While walking down the street a young man sees an old man and asks him: “Do you remember me?”
The old man says no, so the young man tells him that at one time he was one of his students.
The old teacher then asks: “What do you do now, what did you end up doing in life?”
The young man responds: “Well, I became a teacher, just like you.”
“Ah, that’s a good thing, but why just like me?” Asks the old man.
“Well, yes. In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.”
The old man was curious now so asked the young man at what point in his life he decided to become a teacher.
The young man then tells him the following story:
“One day, a friend of mine, also a student, came in with a nice new watch, and I decided I wanted it. So I stole it, I took it out of his pocket.
Shortly after, my friend noticed his watch was missing and immediately complained to our teacher, who was you.
Shortly thereafter you addressed the class saying, ‘This student’s watch was stolen during class today. Whoever stole it, please return it.’ But I didn’t give it back because I didn’t want to.
After nobody responded you closed the classroom door and told us all to stand up and form a circle.
You then said you were going to search our pockets one by one until the watch was found.
However, you told us to close our eyes, because you would only look for his watch if we all had our eyes closed.
So we did as you instructed.
You went from pocket to pocket, and when you went through my pocket, you found the watch and took it but continued searching everyone’s pockets. When you were finally done you said ‘open your eyes. We have the watch.’
You didn’t tell on me and you never mentioned the episode again and never disclosed who stole the watch either.
That was the most shameful day of my life and you saved my dignity forever.
So that was the day I decided I would not become a thief or a bad person in any way. You never said anything about it again, nor did you even scold me or take me aside to give me any moral lessons.
I received your message loud and clear.
Thanks to you, I clearly understood what a good person and a real educator should do.
Do you remember this incident, professor?
The old professor answered, ‘Yes, I remember the situation with the stolen watch and that I looked for it in everyone’s pocket.
The reason I didn’t remember you, however, is because I also closed my eyes while looking for the watch.’
This is the essence of teaching: If to correct you must humiliate then you don’t know how to teach.”