The English lecture was in progress. I was speaking to the students when suddenly a female student got up from her seat, strode up to the front of the room, and plugged something into the wall socket. Then, she walked back to her seat and sat down.


I was absolutely taken aback and asked her, "What are you doing?"


She replied nonchalantly, "I'm charging my hand phone."


I reproached her, "I'm shocked by your behaviour. You did not even bother to ask me for permission."


She retorted defiantly, "No one is using the socket, so what's the problem?"


I tried to keep my cool. "You are not allowed to charge your phone during lectures. If I allow you, I have to allow the others."


Before I could finish speaking, she stood up, walked past me and pulled the phone and charger from the socket. She went back to her seat, sat down and said, "You're happy now?"


I almost blew up. A hush descended over the room. All the students fixed their eyes on me. They were waiting for my reaction and anticipating the worst. Tension in the room began to mount.


I wanted to lash out at the girl for her insolence. I wanted to punish her for her disrespectful behaviour.


Then I composed myself and thought, "My role as an educator is now put to the test. This is the time I must practise what I preach - teaching and guiding my students with patience and kindness. I must pass this test."


With fresh resolve I looked at the girl with a smile and said, "Thank you for your cooperation. I appreciate your understanding very much."


The other students looked at me in utter surprise, then heaved a big sigh of relief. The tension in the room evaporated and the lecture proceeded without any further disturbance.


At the end of the lecture, I was surprised to find the girl waiting by my table. I was even more surprised when she said, "I wish to say sorry. I was wrong. I should not have done that."


We had a short friendly chat and then she went off cheerfully. I felt good - I knew I had passed the test.

That night, as I reflected over the incident, these thoughts struck me:

  • What if I had humiliated the student in front of the class?
  • What if I had refused to humble myself?
  • Would the student have apologized for her conduct?
  • Would the student have been willing to humble herself?