By Dhanya Nair
This Labor Day weekend was all about being a couch potato for me. My husband and I binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix though I was occasionally troubled by guilt pangs about impending readings for school. Stranger Things is set in the 1980’s and revolves around four pre-teen nerdy boys who love playing dungeons and dragons. One of the four boys goes missing one evening, and the plot quickly thickens with secret government spy-operations, teen romances, an alternate dimension (the upside down), and a blood-thirsty creature which reaches through walls.
The show harks back to simpler times when children had to rely on board games for entertainment, books for edification and flights of fantasy, and teachers–not google–to understand constructs. In their quest for their lost missing friend, the three boys are aided by a girl with psychic powers, a dedicated police officer, and concerned family members; but, for me, the star of the whole operation was Mr. Clarke, the boys’ science teacher. The boys accost him at a funeral for understanding how an alternate dimension can exist and be accessed, use the audio-visual equipment he furnishes their school with, and even call him on a weekend night to build a sensory deprivation chamber! Phew! Mr. Clarke! Of course, the boys were logically sound and hence were able to understand and execute their teacher’s instructions flawlessly. The only time I ever called my science teacher was when I tried to make soap at home in an aluminum container and realized science could never be my calling!
Mr. Clarke was the unsung hero of the show for me because he simplified theories for his students, encouraged curiosity, made himself available to his students even during his time off, was compassionate towards his students’ developmental tasks, and reinforced faith in the power of science. Having said all this, Mr. Clarke’s depiction in the show did seem simplistic to me. However, I do wish I had a science teacher like him. Maybe, I am doing a disservice to all my teachers by wishing this. My teachers have helped me fight all sorts of Demogorgon, I have relied heavily on them in the past for understanding the world around me, and still rely on them to correct my grammar, equip me with ideas, bolster me with kindness, and provide me with words of wisdom. If knowledge is power, then all those teachers who consider teaching their true calling are superheroes, my kind anyway!