Hi, I'm Floyd, a second year MBA student. It's been 17 years since I've been religiously placing my faith in the Indian education system and like every other student I have been subjected to the various climates a vidyarthi is likely to face in the classroom ecosystem.
We've all had to participate in that eternal debate where first benchers and last benchers claw at each other. It’s almost as though they are two unassigned teams that naturally exist in every Indian class room. In fact, most of us might have spent a good amount of time convincing our parents of the cons of being in the opposite team.
So here I am trying to understand both sides of the coin. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to criticize or praise any one over the other without first analyzing various factors that may influence my dear reader’s perception.
One thing is for sure, whether you are a front bencher or a last bencher, you are bound to be famous in the class and, if you’re awesome enough, even the whole institute (of course you’ll have different reasons to credit your fame to.)
So what does it take to be a back bencher? Here’s my compiled list:
1. Give assignments/homework a second priority… you obviously have better things to do.
2. Be an entertainment for the class… because you’re the unsung heroes who destress the environment.
3. Be, literally, “outstanding” students… yes, it’s a privilege to be shown the door every now and then.
4. Have your parents visit your teachers every time you mess up… because you want your parents to relive their school days.
5. And finally, be known as the “gang of troublemakers” … now that’s a title well earned.
And here’s more or less what front benchers are like:
1. Become a teacher’s pet for at least one teacher… hey, teachers can have crushes too.
2. You would get suicidal if you came second… because coming anything but first is a classroom evil, right?
3. You’re the right hand of the teacher… and that’s why monitors, assistant monitors and CRs come into power.
4. Ask every possible question even if you know the answer… a little attention seeking never hurt anyone.
5. Obey every instruction your teacher gives you… that’s testimony to the fact that we live in a matrix and freedom is only an illusion.
Now comes an important question; what gives me the supreme right to criticize either party?
Well, I’ve had the privilege to be on both sides so, there, that’s my vantage point.
From my school days right until I completed under-graduation, I’ve been a back bencher, and that’s more than half of my education life. My score cards were, needless to say, miserable. But I turned out pretty fine. I got admission in some really good institutes and managed to clear all subjects (with some trouble, some help and some expert advice in copying). Moreover, I wasn’t as big an embarrassment to my parents as my peers, teachers and I, myself thought I would be.
Very recently after joining an M.B.A. last year I transformed into a front bencher and my, my, it’s been one hell of a year. I’ve never pushed myself to achieve career and life goals so much. I’ve challenged myself and developed my talents I never even knew were possible. And all it took was sacrificing outings with friends, not wasting time on movies, pretending to attentively listen to every lecture (geez, that does take the life out of you) and being a happy single lad among couples with a high affinity for displaying their love for each other in public, like literally in front of your eyes (get a class “room” for chrissakes!).
Jokes apart, the past year has shown me a side of myself I previously never thought existed. It feels good, knowing you’re capable of so much more.
So what is the best thing to be? A front bencher or a back bencher?
Now, I’m in a phase, which I would call the “stable-transition” phase. I’ve shifted to the back bench again, but I didn’t let go of my first bencher attitude. And that, my dear reader, is the essence of being a balanced individual inside the classroom.
The best learnings aren’t imparted in classrooms (unless you’ve got Jack Black as a teacher. Think “school of rock”). The best learnings are learnt through experience. So in my humble opinion, it really doesn’t matter what bench you hold. Just stay true to yourself, take pride in what you do and do things that would make you proud, be in good company and understand there are no bad students, just people with a different perception.
Don’t mark yourself with a front or back bencher title. It really doesn’t matter. Do what you’re great at doing, hone your talents, give a priority to being a good human being before being a good student and be the change you wish to see.
At the end, it’s who you are and what you do that matters and not which bench you’re on. There are kids who don’t even have a decent structure to study in, let alone benches, and they’ve turned out all fine. So there’s no reason why you, me or anybody should get benchmarked!
‘cos in the end, aadmi
apne kaam se jaana jaata hai, apne bench se nahi!