There are two important stories called, “Front Seat Brahman” and “Teachers of Import” that have a common conflict. That common conflict is education vs. non-education. The character in “Front Seat Brahman” is Sushil Rao. He is from Bombay, India. The characters in “The Teachers of Import” are Amarel Collymore and Elke Walcher. Amarel is from Bridgetown, Barbados and Elke is from Austria. They all moved to Queens, New York for a particular reason. Sushil did not mention whether or not he went to elementary or high school.
However, from the story it sounds like he took school lightly compared to Amarel and Elke. Sushil states, “I went away to agriculture college to learn how to be a farmer, but they made me dissect frogs in a botany class so I quite. So I enrolled in a philosophy college. A year later, my father died and I was kind of out of control. I quite college and became a traveling hippie” (Lehrer/ Sloan, 32). This proves that he did try to go to college, but was not dedicated enough to finish college.
He thought there were better opportunities and prospects out in the world than just going to college. That was not the case for Amarel and Elke. Amarel was a college graduate and taught high school English. She had decades of teaching experience and decided to come to New York. Elke was also a college graduate and taught science. Both teachers came to teach in New York because there was a shortage of teachers and the New York City Board of Education was looking to recruit teachers from different countries. Amarel was not used to the student’s behavior the first week of classes.
She states, “In Barbados, if a student acts up, they get put out the door right away. When I first started teaching here I thought the kids were raging all the time. Then I figured out its just normal for them to curse and swear” (Lehrer/ Sloan, 55). This shows the differences between the way students act in Barbados vs. America. I think American students, depending on the school though; have very low respect for their teachers compared to certain countries. Elke had a different experience. She said, “It’s a prejudice Europeans have against blacks anyways.
The movies give the impression that all blacks are criminals and they all live in the Bronx. I couldn’t believe the class was half black. Most of the guys are wearing gang jackets and bandanas” (Lehrer/ Sloan, 59). This proves that Elke was in for a big surprise and they were not like the Austrian students that she was used to. Sushil was more of a spiritual person rather than educational. For example Sushil says, “You can live without food for days at a time. But water you need almost every four hours. Water is like diamonds. Our life depends on it” (Lehrer/ Sloan, 36)!
People know they cannot live without water, but I have never heard anyone phrase is quite like that. This shows that Sushil is such a deep and meaningful man. Sushil has such a great view of life and appreciates it so much more than the average American. The two teachers and Sushil make the education vs. non-education conflict have some similarities and differences. The two teachers take such great pride in their work as teachers. Just as Sushil takes pride in sharing his stories with people, cooking and his publishing company.
He did not need college to succeed like Amarel and Elke, but the women definitely make education a big part of their lives. These are just two different views these people have. In a way, Sushil was teaching the people in the cabs about his country and his beliefs, just as the two teachers teacher their students. Sushil does not mention how education is portrayed in India, but according to Amarel and Elke teachers are very well respected and getting an education is very highly though of. The two teachers were not sure they wanted to stay in New York or go back home and teach.
In the end, they did both want to stay. Amarel concludes with, “I’ve gotten accustomed to these kids. The Lord brought me here for something. I am not yet sure what it is. I know now if I hate to, I could teach anywhere. But I’d like to teach here again next year if I can” (Lehrer/ Sloan, 57). Elke concludes with, “Teaching is a calling. If you do it just for the money you won’t last. Especially in New York. Some of the teachers look at me like I’m nuts whenever I talk with great enthusiasm for teaching” (Lehrer/ Sloan, 61).
This show that both teachers are now getting used to the idea that they can help these students and teach them to respect teachers more. They both succeeded in the end. Sushil also succeeded even though he did not go to college and education was not a part of his life. He was starting to make dinners for his friend and all his friends. Then Sushil and his friend started up a publishing company together. That proved he did not need a professional education. He was poetic and creative and that made him a success.