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I had a personal home-tuition teacher who used to coach me since I was in 9th grade.

At first, he was a very sincere teacher, who always gave me sufficient homework, gave me extra practise questions, and generally helped me do better at his subject (Mathematics). In return, I tried to be a sincere student, and did all the homework he gave me :), and also tried to give him the study material that he asked me for, as I had a lot of extra study material lying at home. My teacher would see these, and he would ask me for a copy of those. I would (or rather, my parents would) take a copy of them, and pay for the copies themselves, as there is a tradition in India that the teacher is to be respected even more than God himself (see here).

As time passed, my teacher stopped helping out so much, and began increasing his fees while delivering lower quality of teaching. He even began asking me (again, my parents in reality) for payment even for the extra material that he used to provide me with.

In course of time, I wrote and qualified for the second stage of a certain examination, which I did partially with this teacher's support, and partially with support from my school. However, a few days before the actual examination, my tuition teacher said that he had gone abroad for a business trip, when in reality, he had gone for a holiday with his entire family. I got to know this from a really reliable source. This really made me furious, because I had multiple doubts to ask, and at that time even my school was closed for the same holiday (Dusshera and Diwali, if anyone wants to know).

Then, when I was preparing for the second stage examination, which happens a few months later, this teacher began providing me with substandard quality of questions as my parents had made a delay in making the payment. Nevertheless, I continued to help him, and one day, he asked me for some really good and expensive study material, for a "few" days. He took the actual books this time, not a copy, and he hasn't returned it yet. It's been nearly a year now.

Ironically, I actually qualified for the second stage of the examination, even with the poor-quality questions I had prepared with. However, now, I am no longer in contact with this teacher, due to his attitude and high fees.

Should I thank my teacher now that I have qualified? If yes, then should I ask him for my study material?

I'm a teenager from India, studying in the 11th grade now.

  • 1
    Did you happen to ask your parents about this? How do they feel? – anongoodnurse Aug 24 '17 at 16:05
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    @anongoodnurse They asked me to thank him... I'm not feeling like doing that, so I asked for advice – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Aug 25 '17 at 10:12
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(1) I am Indian myself and this is a good learning experience for you not to give excessive importance to teachers during your higher studies.

As you noted,

there is a tradition in India that the teacher is to be respected even more than God himself

but in my experience with Indian teachers over a period of 30 years, such reverence should be extended only to those few teachers who really deserve it through their kind, caring, sincere and sensitive approach to their students.

All others who exploit the reverence we are expected to give generically, you simply ignore. They are paid to teach and that's it.

(2) Regarding this part of your question:

Should I thank my teacher now that I have qualified?

and this concern you raised in a comment:

However, if I don't resume contact, and he gets to know about this by himself, then what would I do?

You answered this yourself:

Ironically, I actually qualified for the second stage of the examination, even with the poor-quality questions I had prepared with.

So I think you don't need to contact him and you would do nothing 'if he gets to know' because this teacher is no longer in contact with you and the circumstances of your 'drifting apart' professionally were not at all to your educational advantage. You still got good result in your examination, so more power to you!

(3) You can ask the teacher for your books back -- if the books are really expensive then your parents could strictly demand that the teacher should return them immediately -- but in the interests of avoiding an unpleasant confrontation, I would write them off instead and concentrate on your future studies. Your answers here at Interpersonal.SE reveal you to be a sensible young person and you shall surely succeed in all your endeavors without depending excessively on individual teachers.

You will also later understand (if you haven't already) that people behaving selfishly is so common that we have no need to take it personally -- people are like that only, so we will learn to forgive if not forget: by which I mean you can try to understand the teacher's selfishness; forgive the person for taking your books, giving poor coaching and almost damaging your exam result; and remember it for future reference so that you will not be upset when someone else behaves like this later.

You can consider the lost books a 'fee' paid to the person for 'teaching' you this valuable life lesson.

  • to forgive if not forget Do you mean to forget if not forgive ? I believe the intended meaning is "if you cannot forgive them, then just forget" – Vylix Aug 24 '17 at 22:22
  • Not at all, @Vylix -- how can you forget someone that you can't forgive??? The usual saying is 'forgive and forget' but my point is that we can forgive if not forget: forgive them since it is only stupidly selfish, and still remember it neutrally without ill-feeling. Remembering is useful for future. – English Student Aug 24 '17 at 22:38
  • For example: you'll never be able to forgive what a rapist have done to you, but learn to move on, and forget the bad experience. It seems we look it from different perspective ;) – Vylix Aug 24 '17 at 22:45
  • Yes @Vylix your point is well taken but when I say 'forget' it is extreme as in 'not even remember' unlike what you say 'come to terms and move on' -- so my point is bit different from yours, that OP can try to understand the teacher's selfishness, forgive the person and remember it for future reference so he will not be upset when someone else behaves like this later. Now I clarified this in my answer. – English Student Aug 24 '17 at 22:51
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Disclaimer, this is from an American perspective and doesn't take into account any nuances of Indian culture.

However, now, I am no longer in contact with this teacher, due to his attitude and high fees. Should I thank my teacher now that I have qualified?

If you are no longer in touch, then I see no point in reaching out to him. He may have been very helpful to you at first, but it's clear that he became unreliable as time went on. It sounds like your success is because of your own diligence and intelligence, not because of his help, so I'm not sure he even deserves thanks. I see nothing to gain by restarting contact with him now.

If yes, then should I ask him for my study material?

The answer was no, but if for some reason you did decide to thank him, I wouldn't ask for the study material. If he's had it for over a year and hasn't returned it yet, then you aren't going to get it back. Consider it a lesson learned to be more careful with who you trust in the future.

However, if I don't resume contact, and he gets to know about this by himself, then what would I do?

What do you expect him to do? Demand that you thank him for services he didn't provide? And how would he find out in the first place? I think you are very unlikely to hear from him, and any reaction you would get is something you could easily brush off and ignore.

  • Thanks... this really helped me... However, if I don't resume contact, and he gets to know about this by himself, then what would I do? – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Aug 24 '17 at 15:19
  • This is pretty much it. I'm an Indian. – NVZ Aug 24 '17 at 16:04
  • @AbhigyanChattopadhyay add that to your original question body. – NVZ Aug 24 '17 at 16:05
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I agree with David K here. No need to reach out to him since you're not in touch lately. And the study material is a lost cause, so no point in asking for that either.

Hopefully, next time in a similar scenario, you should be more careful about letting somebody borrow your original materials.

However, in case you accidentally cross paths in the future, do greet him, and if asked, tell him about your results. Don't hold any grudges against him, but don't bring him back into your life either.

I am an Indian, and I fully understand your situation.

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