As a teacher, I went into the field of education thinking that it was my job to teach children the answers to everything. In time, I've learnt differently.
It started in a quite literal fashion. I set exercises for all my students wherein I gave them a set of answers. Their job was to come up with the questions. There were many possible correct ways to do the exercise. At first, the children stared blankly, then they struggled to fit logic with language. I was surprised, but then I understood where we've been going wrong. It also took me back through my own life's journey of 'growing up'.
The first time I remember such a challenge was when I was a student. We were asked to write an essay about our favorite book. Back then in 6th standard, I think, I had left behind Enid Blyton and was going through Sidney Sheldon. I gushed for one page about this swashbuckling adventure called "If Tomorrow Comes". Ma'am Anuradha gave me the requisite marks, but she also wrote a note that froze me completely- she asked me why I so admired a protagonist who had taken to thieving, and justified it. I felt a few moments of deep shame. Then, I felt wonder at the fact that that was a question I hadn't asked myself. Why?
The second time I remember something similar was when I watched a stand up comedian make fun of the movie 'Titanic'. It was another bolt to my brain, as I realized that yes, I actually really didn't like that long-ass movie (his words, not mine ). I had let myself be swept along with the tide of admiration that everyone around me had for the movie.
People like my teacher, and incidents like those are very visible markers that I can look back on and see how I was led into the path of questioning everything- my motives, my beliefs... it led to the most precious thing I have in my tool kit for life- my awareness.
Now, I see the children around me, going along- sometimes docile, sometimes defiant, and I am so amused at this process we all evolve by. And I am so grateful to the people and the circumstances that guided me. I look forward to giving back. (I am so moved I seriously considered adding a hashtag-feeling blessed, but thankfully the moment of weakness passed)