My Chess Teacher

Rahul Subramaniam

Mr. Shorman's Effects

Many teachers have had a positive effect on me; one, however, stands high above the rest. Richard Shorman began teaching me chess about the time I was in the sixth grade. At first I perceived him as a quaint, eccentric old man who would go off on many tangents as he lectured. He would unexpectedly mention a great literary work and explain its significance with deep insight. Although I was initially irritated by the distractions, I would later learn to appreciate the wisdom of what he had to say. Soon our discussions would include not only chess but also school, medicine, science, and life. His brilliance as a teacher came from his ability to allow me to form correct conclusions, as opposed to merely imparting knowledge to me. Mr. Shorman repeatedly stressed the importance of paying attention, following directions, and working hard. Once a student had proven to him his willingness to do these things, he would provide him with plenty of enriching material to nurture understanding. In this way Richard Shorman helps to refine my understanding of the (Vedic) Holy Scriptures and introduces me to a wide range of disciplines, thus facilitating my growth into a mature young adult. I will be forever thankful for his excellent example of how virtue and compassion should not be restricted to church meetings and spiritual discussions, but to everyday interactions.

A Brief Introduction

Richard Shorman: a kind and virtuous mentor who has inched me along the path of light and wisdom. His tranquility and unbounded compassion are evidence of his deep knowledge and understanding of the workings of our world. Mr. Shorman remains balanced by participating in events and actions, while not being affected by them. His life of selfless service is one I would like to replicate.

Values Represented

Richard Shorman is special because he is a rare westerner who embraces deep eastern traditions. However, his skill manifests in his ability to deal with a wide range of different people; his knowledge of various cultures allows him to connect well with most any student. His values include helping others to become insightful and responsible, so that they may lead selfless and worthwhile lives. His principles are based on universally accepted truths and teachings, from which he never diverges. Although flaws are inherent in human beings' characters, Mr. Shorman's comes closest to being pure and unblemished.

Most Admired

Of all my influences, Richard Shorman has been by far the most inspirational. He makes me feel more than human, as if no obstacles are too large to conquer. Once Mr. Shorman stumbled upon an essay I had written and studied it carefully. Eager to receive tips on my writing skills, I questioned him about how well the work was structured. "I am not reading it," he remarked. "I am observing your handwriting. Your use of both printed and cursive lettering signifies an inconsistent and disconnected mind. I also see that you are careless when crossing t's and dotting i's. These may seem trivial, but it is in the details where true mastery arises." Seeing my shock at receiving such sudden criticism, my mentor softened and smiled. "I am not telling you about the good things in your writing. There are plenty, but how would it benefit you to know them? My goal is to make you a better person, not to flatter you with compliments." 1 This is a healthy attitude for teachers. They must care for the students' long-term progress, not their short-term pleasure. Thus, although much work may make a child's life miserable in the near future, it builds his capacity to manage stress and to think clearly, skills increasingly necessary in life. Richard Shorman does this well, but his real talent is not in the clarity with which he explains complex concepts or in his ability to make fine distinctions and discernments, but in his being a perfect model of what he preaches. He teaches others by who he is, not by what he does. His living example speaks just as cogently as his words.

1 Not exact wording, but adequate paraphrasing

--Fremont, Nov. 2005

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