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Gandhi as a teacher

Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated on 2 October every year, to mark the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Father of the nation. Gandhi inspired many nations to follow his non-violent approach
towards civil rights and social change. On 15 June 2007, the United Nations voted to establish 2 October as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Despite being involved in the freedom struggle, Gandhi took out time to play the role of a teacher and practised non-violence in school.

According to a popular story, a school attached to the Sabarmati Ashram was headed by Gandhi. The school followed a strict ‘no-caning’ approach. Despite this, teachers wished that they could cane a student when the mischief got out of hand. Some teachers felt that the students took advantage of the non-violence rule in the school to behave in a disobedient way. The teachers decided to put forth their thoughts to Gandhi, who heard them out and advised that there were only two options available – if a teacher tried all the possible non-violent approaches and failed, he or she was allowed to use violence; if a teacher felt that violence would do more harm than good, he or she was allowed to try every possible non-violent method, failing which he or she could resign from the post of a teacher. All the teachers agreed, and one particular teacher said that he would like to resort to a violent approach as he had tried all the non-violent methods possible to bring order in the classroom. Gandhi permitted the teacher to use about cane in the classroom and this shocked many. The teacher started using cane in the classroom. A particular mischievous boy received caning from the teacher and started showing signs of improvement. Weeks went by and the teacher met Gandhi again to confess that the idea to use a cane in the classroom had failed. Eventually the teacher realised the meaning of non-violence. He went back to the classroom with an increased belief in non-violent method of teaching. He put his heart into teaching and started giving individual attention to the students in the classroom without resorting to caning and soon enough, his kindness transformed the students.

This story shows how non-violence can be introduced in the classroom and how a teacher’s kindness and attention can help students alter their behaviour.