Secondary School Level

On Being A Back-Bencher

Several students scramble to occupy the front benches of the class-room. They think that to be seated on a front bench is a badge of intelligence and scholarship. They can attract attention of the teacher and flatter him with appreciative nods while a lesson is being taught. They look down upon back-benchers as intellectually backward.

I, for one, have always preferred a back bench. I know too well that the back-bencher is one of the most misunderstood souls in the world. It is commonly supposed that those who occupy the back-benches are up to some mischief, for they are strategic places to launch paper-arrows and cat-calls from. In fact, the majority of them are quiet, well-behaved souls. Nor are all of them dunces and duds.

Several distinguished scholars, statesmen and administrators, it will be found, have come from the ranks of the neglected back-benchers. Though many back-benchers may not do very well in this or that examination, quite a few of them finally come off in flying colours, while the honour able occupants of the front benches, for all their reputation for scholarship, generally turn out to be students of mediocre calibre. Why, then, do they prefer those remote benches near the rear wall of the class-room? Their innate modesty mainly explains this unwanted preference. From time immemorial, modesty has been regarded as the hall- mark of a true student.

Though the back-benchers are aware of their ability, they shun the limelight and are determined to have no truck with outward show and hollow pretenses. Their modesty should not be mistaken for mediocrity. They are like “A violet by a messy stone, half hidden from the eye !” but capable of blossoming out as good students and useful citizens.

There is another reason, too, why some wise students keep away from the thrones in close proximity to the teacher. It is an awareness of the advantages and privileges of sitting on the rear benches. If a teacher makes a slip or commits a howler - it is a mistake to suppose that only students commit howlers - you can laugh up your sleeve or even openly smile, securely hidden behind a tall back in front of you. If a particular lecture happens to be dull, you may safely dream of green fields and babbling brooks, thrilling adventures and enchanting experiences. At such moments, I pity my class-mates who, seated on the front benches, are ever in the task-master's eye.


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