The Absent Teacher: A Cautionary Tale of Gentleness

While running institutions, gentleness is necessary, but the results of gentleness can be very dangerous and dire.

Afzal Badshah, PhD
Age of Awareness
3 min readMar 27, 2023

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The photo of the author with students

It has been raining all night during the winter and the clouds are still pouring in the morning. It was already cold, but the continuous rain made it even colder. My house is located on a rough, unpaved road, and getting to school on rainy days is a challenge. I take an umbrella to avoid the rain, but it has been found to be broken, which may have been done the day before by the children. On the muddy path to school, I walk without an umbrella. My other teachers are also punctual; teachers who travel long distances from other villages and cities arrive on time as well.

Fifteen minutes after the scheduled time, I called an absentee teacher who lived near the school. There was a carpeted road from his home to the school, so he, like me, had not had to come through the mud. When I asked him the reason for not coming to school, he said that it was raining and he was waiting for the rain to stop. No employee could answer this. I told him that it had been raining for the last two days and this was the forecast for the next two days. Teachers had arrived from other villages and cities and I had arrived in the mud. After that, he said he didn’t have a bike and he would call someone to take him to school.

The photo by the author

You must be thinking that the teacher is wrong; he does not realize his duties. You are right, but let me share with you the real reason. I have been trying to go along with this teacher’s mood and I have been thinking that there may be some issues with him. This is why I have been accepting his short leaves. These were leaves that other teachers have not been taking. My lenient attitude, with the hope that it would gradually improve, led to further deterioration. He started making excuses that the rest of the employees could not even think of.

There is a very famous Arabic story in which a man travels with his camel. On the way, the traveller pitches a tent and lies down inside, tying the camel outside. After a while, the camel addresses its owner and says that it is very cold outside. If you allow me, I will put my head in the tent. The owner gives permission. After a while, the camel makes another request, which is also granted. By doing this, the camel covers the entire tent, leaving the owner outside.

While running institutions, gentleness is necessary, but the results of gentleness can be very dangerous and dire. If you are capable enough to know the limits of decency and understand the next person, then to some extent it is acceptable, as it is necessary for the good capacity of any organization. Otherwise, it can be disastrous for you and the organization.

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Afzal Badshah, PhD
Age of Awareness

Dr Afzal Badshah focuses on academic skills, pedagogy (teaching skills) and life skills.