There is no single person from whom I learnt more in life than Brother Gannon. This statement is true not only for me but practically all my 10th class mates. This makes Brother Gannon special. Let us know him and the lessons he taught us.
He was a slim medium height Irishman about 70 years old (I can only guess his age from his appearance-all his hair were white). His lone companion was “Lassy” a black Spaniel. He was totally dedicated to teaching us, a bunch of 30 rough teenagers from Meerut, most of whom could neither speak nor write proper English, to face life. To handle ‘rough guys’ like us he was generous and fair in his usage of the ‘black board duster’ on our heads and cane on our bums. His commitment to duty cannot be fathomed by the current generation because I do not come across any such teacher now.
He taught us Math (that was his subject), English and Geography. He was not formally trained to teach English or Geography.
Most Important Lesson
The biggest lesson Brother Gannon taught me was that formal training or education was not essential to know something if you wanted to. How this lesson has helped me in my life:
- I am a self-taught Tennis player and Boxer. Later in service life I trained Boxers to compete up to the national level.
- When I found that the training at NDA, IMA and Infantry School had failed to teach me how to shoot properly I taught myself and later taught my Battalion to beat all competition in shooting!
- I strive to learn the diverse subjects which my students formally study today.
His commitment to teach us was tremendous and inspirational. Profits and results were not his concern. He had left his family, home and took no salary. We were his family. He appreciated genuine effort and rewarded students for that. The biggest reward was just a look of appreciation. In my various teaching/instructional appointments I have tried to copy him but I do not think that I would ever come close. I have not sought tangible rewards. The intangible rewards which keep me energized have been:
- The cheer in the voice of a successful candidate and
- the glint in the eye of a winner Boxer or Shooter.
Every Sunday we had to write one essay and a précis of a good passage he gave us. His detailed checking of expression and advice on not to use extra words helps me to guide students today to improve their expression.
Sports and Academics
He liked us to pursue sports but enforced balance between sports and academics. He made a trip to the sports field at 6 pm and chased us home with his cane. At 70 he could run!
He took long walks in the morning and evening along with Lassy. No rain could deter him from his walk. He continued his walks in all weather conditions. This has helped me a great deal in pursuing my plan for the day irrespective of snowfall in Arunachal Pradesh and rain in Nagaland.
He is Alive in Our Memory!
Brother Gannon taught us in 1976. I am writing this blog in 2018. His invaluable lessons of life are a part of me. Like me, through so many of us he continues to live in our memories and inspires our lives even now!