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Nijil tr'Korjata

Who Teaches the Teacher?

Who Teaches the Teacher?

An Amanda Davis and Nijil tr’Korjata Joint Log


There’s a fine line between being a teacher and being a crutch. That line blurs when the teacher becomes more of a friend or a buddy than an authoritative leader who can give instruction, guide learning, and correct inappropriate responses and/or behavior. When the teacher is a parent, that line may disappear altogether.


All this and more fogged Amanda’s mind as she contemplated the process of teaching Nijil how to teach Annisha.


She sighed. Annisha was a highly intelligent child and was much more capable of manipulation beyond the ordinary “winding around her little finger” that young girls tend to do with their fathers.


She sighed again. She needed tea.


Nijil was due in her sitting room in about ten minutes: just enough time to brew and steep a pot, set the tray, and put out some orange scones. Yes, tea was a good start. It would be a calming influence and something to take their minds off the complexity of the problem. Why in blazes did everything have to be so….


Amanda stopped cold, her hand frozen between the tea kettle and the cups in the cupboard above the stove. Of course. Teaching isn’t the problem, it’s the focus on complexity that clouds the issue. That’s the problem. Nijil probably knows nothing about the syllabus or the complex nature of the curriculum. So why tell him?


Instantly, Amanda relaxed. The kettle whistled. The door chimed.


“Come in,” she called cheerfully, “I’ll be right with you.”


Nijil stood at the door to the counselor’s office. He’d been cleared of the shuttle incident, but surely his fitness for other duties came into question. The review board must have picked up on the intentional firing upon Annisha’s shuttle. Armed with only a PADD mini, he awaited the Doctor to open the door.


“Hello, Nijil,” said Amanda as the door opened. “Please... come in. You really mustn’t stand on ceremony for me; you can always come straight in.”


“Last time we met I did not stand at all if I remember,” said Nijil in an attempt to lessen his own nervousness. He walked past the threshold and let the door close behind him. “The Captain did not mention a need for counseling. Was there an issue with my logs? This is about me returning to flight duty, isn’t it?” He thought of Annisha. “Wait, what has she done now?”


Amanda smiled and drew him toward the settee where the tea table and the scones beckoned. “Relax, Nijil. You’re not here for counseling, you’re here for tea and a nice chat. Milk? Sugar?”


“Please,” he sighed. Nijil was delighted to drink hot tea, no doubt not replicated. He sat down and marveled at the pastry. He’d not seen it before. A strange triangle shaped affair, then bit off a corner.


When the tea cosy lifted, the rich aroma of freshly brewed whole-leaf English tea filled the room. When she poured the scene mimicked a Victorian tapestry. The furniture had been passed down from that era, as had the fine Royal Doulton china tea set. As usual, Amanda chose to dress to match the setting: an ankle-length flowing skirt and matching silk blouse. “There we are,” she said as she handed him his cup and poured one for herself, then settled into the settee opposite him. “Better?”


Nijil nodded as he sipped. “Mmm, yes this is quite strong. The scone you called it, is good as well.” His eyes looked upon her attire. “I did not dress appropriately. An outfit from long ago?”


“Only the style, Nijil, not the age. In the afternoons, especially for tea, I like to dress as though I were at home. It’s relaxing. It helps me absent myself from the cares of the day and concentrate on the things that really matter. I hope you do the same at least once during the day, especially now that you are a father.”


He bit off more of the scone. “I’ll try to give her a sense of home. Funny, my father asked me if I knew what I was doing. I said yes, but he knew otherwise. I just couldn’t abandon Annisha. Not again. Not into the talons of those two thieves.” He tensed up at biggest regret, took a large sip of hot tea.


“Nijil.” Amanda set her cup on the tray and leaned forward a bit. “You could not have known that they were thieves. No one did.”


“I suppose not,” he said looking into his cup. “I did not want to make the time for her. Too busy I said. My thoughts were on Jylliene, Lt. Kital.” He finished off the scone and placed the cup down. “From no women to two women in his life,” he mused. The thought amused and terrified him. “I am fortunate they have taken a shine to each other. Annisha is a lot to handle.” Nijil looked off in the distance.


“I’ll tell you a secret, Nijil, if you promise never, ever to tell anyone.”


He leaned in and instinctively reached for a scanner he did not have to see if the room was bugged. “Yes?”


Amanda leaned closer and her voice dropped to a clandestine whisper, like a nosy neighbor about to drop a good tidbit of gossip. “We’re crafty, Nijil. We women are. You’ll never handle us, so you may as well not even try.”


He sat there in a bit of shock, reaching for his tea cup. “I’ve been on the receiving end of betrayal, my first e’lev. I’m familiar with some of what you speak, but she paid a high price for her choices. That being said, seeing her dead after the attempted takeover of Aegis brought me no joy.” He drank more Earl Grey. “Annisha is very crafty.” Nijil grinned into his cup, then looked Dr. Davis in the eye. “This is about Annisha isn’t it?”


“Annisha certainly is part of it, but more precisely, her education. More tea?” The still-steaming pot hovered over his cup.


“Yes.” The tea quite delighted him.


“So. About Annisha.” The tea poured rich, the milk and sugar within easy reach. “How are her lessons going?”


Nijil perked up. “Her engineering lessons are going very well. I figured I should start with what I know. It covers some math, warp field theory, and how different systems work together. She seems captivated, but I can’t help thinking it’s like shopping for shoes. Er, no offense.”


Amanda laughed. “No offense taken, and I think I know what you mean. But,” it took some time for the laughter to subside, “please do enlighten me.”


He looked puzzled. “You mean about shoe shopping?”


She nodded. “And how it figures into your lessons.”


“Oh, as if she wants to please me to the point where she’ll play along, even if it’s boring or undesirable. I should find something she really latches on to and help her with that. However, I think what keeps her interest is how a lot of what I do are tiny puzzles, connected to other puzzles.” Nijil stopped for a moment. “I think she finds joy in solving problems, no matter what they are.”


“And have you ever felt that what you are telling her, or teaching her, she already knows?”


“The engineering no, but she picks up on things so fast it’s hard to tell the difference.”


“Well, one way to tell the difference is to have her play the teacher.” Amanda paused at his reaction, then explained, “If she can teach you and her teaching is valid, then you know she understands. Then you gently push her beyond that. You play the student. Pretend to be ignorant. Make her think. When she comes to the point where she can’t teach you then you know where to begin and what to elaborate on.”


Nijil gave the idea some thought. He leaned back on his elbow and held his face in his hand. “This works for areas I’m familiar with, engineering, shuttles, singing...” His mother insisted on his lessons when younger. Despite all of his engineering skills, his voice pleased him greatly. Few knew he could carry a tune, including Jylliene. “I will need to consult reference material for matters of galactic history, culture, and art.”


“One step at a time, Nijil. And remember, you will not be the only one teaching her; she will have advanced tutors for culture and art.


“But for now, just continue on as you have been with engineering, and, if you don’t mind, I might peep in on you once in a while. Then we can meet if you have any questions or if I have something that might help you… like another scone.” Her smile was sincere and encouraging.


Smiling, Nijil added, “These are sweeter than most Rihan desserts. About Annisha, I just hope I’m not retarding her development. I think she’s in a strange emotional state. Not shock, but, I don’t know. She speaks little about her own parents, but I suspect a reason. I’ll ask Jylliene what she thinks about it and report to you. I have more questions, but I don’t wish to carry too many burdens at once.” The engineer finished the last of his tea. Warm and strong, it’s just what he needed.

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