By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) Passion, perseverance and a flair for building relationships with students are pre-requisites for the kind of teachers that the world needs, says American motivational speaker and educator Brad Cohen, whose book “Front of The Class” — detailing how Tourette Syndrome made him the teacher he never had — has inspired upcoming Bollywood film “Hichki”.
“Hichki”, with a cast led by Rani Mukerji, is the second movie to be inspired by Cohen’s story after the 2008 American film “Front of The Class”.
“This is an amazing experience. I thought I was lucky enough to have one film made about my life. But now to have two movies made about my life story, I’m truly honoured. It is a great feeling to know so many people are inspired by my story.
“I know ‘Hichki’ will make a difference in the lives of so many people around India and the world,” Cohen told IANS in an email interview from Atlanta, Georgia, where he has been working for over two decades.
The Yash Raj Films movie, he says, is especially for teachers.
“It is a reminder for every teacher about the difference they make in the life of their students. Teaching is the best profession in the world. We need more quality teachers. It is my hope that my story will inspire others to want to grow up and become a teacher.
“It is my goal for people to walk away from ‘Hichki’ being a better person,” added Cohen.
During his growing-up years, Cohen used to be reprimanded by his teachers for the tics and noises he caused, which were a consequence of his struggle with Tourette Syndrome, described as a neuropsychiatric disorder.
It is because of this that he decided to be a teacher that he never had — to be accepting towards every child.
What according to him are the three most important traits needed in a teacher?
“Passion. A teacher must bring passion to the classroom. They must make learning come to life and engage students to be the best persons they can be.
“Perseverance. Teachers must never give up on their students. And they must never give up on themselves. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs, but it is also the most rewarding job. Teachers need to be that role model and show their kids to never give up on pursuing their dreams.
“Build relationships with students… Teachers need to get to know their students and build trust, because if a child doesn’t trust his or her teacher, the teacher won’t be able to teach the child. But once that teacher gets to know (the children) and what motivates them, the teacher can support them and help them find success in the classroom.”
Besides this, he believes people need to be more open and honest about their issues.
“If we hide issues, then we are dodging the tough questions. We must embrace people’s differences and help support them to be the best they can be. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
“The truth is that everybody has an issue. Some are severe like Tourette Syndrome and some are not as severe and may go unnoticed by common people. That is the theme of ‘Hichki’. If people would just look at other people’s illnesses like we do a hiccup, then the world would be a better place.”
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)