It’s vacation for me. Not the kind of vacation where people go to different places, explore life and nature and feel the extremes of life. The college is closed for exams and it is monsoon season in Kerala. It’s raining everywhere. Water…water…water…Thinking about the life I lived as a teacher now, I feel I miss those days. The days of teaching are days of learning too. Those bright and wide eyes fixed upon you for crossing that edge of knowledge that they feel what they are there for. It is a fascinating image; students in a classroom. The classrooms are cocoons in which the teacher and the students are roommates, or rather cocoon-mates!
It is during this intellectual journey through the classroom in my memory, I thought about this story, which I found months before in Paulo Coelho’s blog. So with all due respect to the author, I publish this wonderful story here.
Is the bird alive?
The young man was at the end of his training, soon he would go on to be a teacher. Like all good pupils, he needed to challenge his teacher and to develop his own way of thinking. He caught a bird, placed it in one hand and went to see his teacher.
‘Teacher, is this bird alive or dead?’
His plan was the following: if his teacher said ‘dead’, he would open his hand and the bird would fly away. If the answer was ‘alive’, he would crush the bird between his fingers; that way the teacher would be wrong whichever answer he gave.
‘Teacher, is the bird alive or dead?’ he asked again.
‘My dear student, that depends on you,’ was the teacher’s reply.