The Hindu Column : Teaching – Vision, rationale and personal standards

A few questions have been forwarded to me for a column to be published in THE HINDU. I responded with these answers..

1. What are the standards to which you as a teacher hold yourself? What’s your personal vision/critical rationale/purpose of teaching?

  • I see myself as a learner first and then a facilitator. I believe that no one can be taught. Yes, I can inspire one to learn with my enthusiasm and energy, the discipline and standards I set for myself and the way I go about, all the time, in pursuit of realizing my potential. Potential is unlimited, that is the philosophy I subscribe to. Walk the talk is the methodology.
  • My rationale of facilitating, is to help every individual realize his or her potential. Towards making it happen, I am always creating a learning environment for them to explore, experience and discover; sharing my learning, and bringing in outstanding achievers to interact with the youth. That face-2-face exchanges make a huge difference.
  • It is all about enabling an individual set goal for oneself and chasing them. Once that happens, everything else will fall in place.

2. What educational goals do you expect of yourself in the classroom? What are you committed to doing/achieving?

3. How do you approach your instruction methods to achieve those standards? How do you put them into practice?
4. How well do you model these expectations? How do you evaluate whether you’ve accomplished those standards?

(I found all these questions closely related, hence I am clubbing them to answer)

  • Study, explore, experiment, interact, learn and contribute. I live by a maxim for myself, “Every day I will do something, which I have never done before”.  It could be in any form – reading, meeting, interacting, and writing that fosters my learning and quenches my thirst. Every new experience I create for myself is of immense value in enriching the learning environment – for self and for others.
  • In the similar vein, as a facilitator, I create experiences in the learning environment that enables learners to realize and comprehend the concepts through experiential learning, more than the theoretical lectures of the concepts. So, for me, learning is bottom-up. Knowledge is always built, and cannot be imparted!
  • I continue to live by these benchmarks.  I share all my learning with the co-learners (students) through various means – in the classroom, through my blog (www.sreeni.org), sharing of interesting articles or sources through various media – email, social forums etc.
  • I have always lived by these standards. The feedback one gets is a great indicator. There are formal, written ones and informal ones too. Those that I keep getting are-

o       How do you have so much of energy? Your presence makes a big difference;

o       My absence is being pointed out, whenever I am traveling and not seen on the campus.

o       “What all activities do you do? It is hard to point out where you do not excel?”

o       “Rarely we see anyone take so much interest in everything that happens around, like you. In fact none”

o       “You cannot measure everyone with same yardstick that you measure for yourself?”

Apart from facilitating at the business school, IWSB – Indus World School of Busines, and the Mentors of the K-12 schools (IWS), I do a lot of workshops and public seminars on “Realizing ones potential and dreams” and “Think Big, Start Small” for the youth of the country, “Enabling your child to excel” for parents of school going children. I travel about 200+ days in a year motivating the youth. These sessions give instant feedback about how do the participants feel. They feel charged and share what will they set for themselves and achieve in the next one-year. Many a times, people come to meet me later to share that they did achieve their goal that they set out with after those sessions. The videos and presentations of these sessions are available on my website / blog www.sreeni.org.

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Come Let us make this world a little more Cheerful! Dedication on a Teachers Day!

Wishing each and every teacher a very happy TEACHERs’ DAY!! Here I am acknowledging every mentor – a teacher in every IWS, larger CL family in test-prep, vocational centres, at IWSB, also a parent, a facilitator and that includes scores of children and youngsters from whom I learn every day being in their space, interacting, discussing or playing with them.

I am on “Realizing Your Dreams” Bharat Bhraman. I reached Dehradun early in the morning today for a motivational Session addressing students who aspire to get into corporate world with an MBA degree from a premier institution.

Can we facilitate children like Munni who are out of the school system

Can we facilitate children like Munni who are out of the school system

As has been my endeavour, with the usual struggle, I headed out for a morning walk. I went through the lanes and by lanes, walked past the marvelous stretch of institutions of national importance – ONGC, FOREST Institute, Forest Survey, Geological Survey etc. While on the walk, I noticed fairly a large crowd of children at a flourist at 7am. I was wondering how is this flourist so busy, so early in the morning? Realized that the children, a few of them in best of the Sarees, Salwar Kameezs, all looking like mature adults, are flocking the flourist to get flowers and bouquets for their favourite teachers! I entered a couple of schools including a Kendriya Vidyalaya to sink in the spirit of the day!!

I recalled a few teachers days down my memory lane. One that came to my mind was when I was at Indus World School in Hyderabad, where quite a few children came dressed like their favourite teachers and behaved through the day with same mannerisms. At the end of the day all students assembled and asked their teachers to enact various scenarios, like CAT-WALK, DANCING, SINGING, while having a blast.

The other instance I recalled included my paying tributes to one of my inspiring teachers when in Class seven, Mangathayaramma, a strict, articulate, competent yet loving teacher, who taught Social Sciences in the Middle School. I recall Prof. Ramdass, maths teacher in my Class XI, who really inspired me and I went on to score a century in the board exams, not that marks are important. Yes, one can really inspire an individual to excel, push ones boundaries, and leave a lasting impression on a young mind.

Since then I have been inspired by numerous mentors who have made significant impact to my thinking including but not limited to Prof. Sundarrajan, Prof KRS Murthy, Prof Ramachandran of IIMB, Prof. Anil Gupta of IIMA and founder of SRISTI and NIF, Prof. Kiran Seth of IITD and founder of SPICMACAY, Prof Srivathsan techno-facilitator of developmental space now with IGNOU, Prof Kannan now VC Nagaland University, Ramji Raghavan, Founder of Agastya Foundation and Desh Deshpande, founder of Sycomore networks, apart from all my colleague mentors in CL Family from whom I have been learning for over a decade. I pay tributes to each one for their humungous contribution to make the lives of scores of family and children better.

Over the last decade in CL family and especially last four years of IWS’ journey, I have come across many a mentor in our corridors who are dedicated, who involve with great ownership, who take responsibilities much beyond their domain, eager to learn, with only one single aim of facilitating children and the parents and families to create a wonderful environment for learning and upbringing of the children. I pay tributes to each one.

As I was walking along the roads in Dehradun, I came across three women rummaging and packing the collected waste in large polythene cement bags for disposal. They do nothing but this every day for their living. I saw a five year old Munni with a year old brother Raju, playing and taking care when their mother is busy earning livelihood to support them. This scene gets repeated at so many places every day.

How do we really make the lives these children better? How do we enable such families? I was thinking about the POLICY of compulsory education to every child – Right to Education!! How do we really make it happen? How do we realize this dream? What role do we have as teachers and facilitators, as responsible citizens of the society?

IWSB students facilitate children of construction workers in the evenings

IWSB students facilitate children of construction workers in the evenings

At Indus World School of Business (IWSB) in Noida, there are a few students who run a school for children of construction workers in their own classroom at the end of the day. I see a Vipresh traveling every weekend to facilitate farmers in the district of Aligarh to take up Organic farming. I See a Jaydeep working to find ways to take grassroot innovations to the market place by facilitating the rural inventors. I pay tribute to each of the passionate initiators and volunteers.

Each one of us can really push ourselves a little more and go beyond if we really want to. How about teaching the maid at home and her children? I am eagerly looking forward to all our schools throwing open the corridors every evening for such endeavours where children from the neighbourhood come to learn and enjoy in the same learning spaces. How about creating a small Science or Art learning centres within the premises? How about proactively bringing children and their work – any kind of art form – into the corridors of our institutions?

Come let us dedicate ourselves to stretch a little more to make this world more humane and cheerful.

Wishing each one of a great year ahead!

Love and regards,

Sreeni
sreeni@careerlauncher.com

MY dream for INDIA, My dream for Career Launcher

This is an article I wrote on our internal blog on May 20, 2008

Dear Mentors and Facilitators,

I would like to address each one of you as the Mentors and facilitators of FUTURE LEADERS of the world. That is what I believe in, and I see each one of you as. Here in, I am addressing everyone from all the institutions of the larger Career Launcher (CL) family. But these thoughts are not limited to only CL, I would be delighted if every education institution finds a vision and a role in enabling an empowered India.

Last four months and especially the last thirty days, have been a real learning experience for me, as I created opportunities to visit many a centre and spent an hour or two at each in Delhi, and at outstation centres too, including that of our enabling partners, for a day or two. Also during these visits, I have had the opportunity to interact and address many a student with dreams in his eyes, from each one of your centres, and parents who have aspirations for their dear ones. Thanks to each one of you, for making my visit and interactions exciting and worthwhile.

Every year scores of students walk through our corridors, enliven our learning spaces, enjoy the meaningful interactions with you all, in the process, a few (a few hundreds, I mean) get charged and conquer their dream world – Schools of Business, Technology, Law, Hospitality, Design, fashion and……. many more, which we don’t even realize that we facilitate them to get into!! Are we just coaching or teaching them?

Do you really see what role we can play in enabling?

Dear Mentors, do we see the next Mittal or Ambani, Mallya or Murthy, Kamath or Nooyi in our premises? Do you see a future Balakrishnan Or a Palkhivala in our corridor? Do you see an OBEROI or Armani in our class? Do you see a Sharukh or Hariprasad, Sachin or Lance in our arena? Do you see a Manmohan or Kalam, Bobby or Shashi, Rabindranath or Hargobind enlivening our learning spaces?

Do we realize that we facilitate about a thousand corporate leaders of tomorrow every year, many of them will go on to occupy the positions of CEOs and COOs of this world, few years down the line. We are already experiencing this, as we look at the corporate sector, some of the students who have walked through our corridors in mid-nineties are reaching the top echelons now. Imagine, how many hundreds of them will be occupying such positions in the near future. Visualize, how many will go on to lead not only the multinationals but also the nations of the world? The world? Yes, indeed the world.

The world is talking about India being the knowledge super-power, along with China. Brazil and Russia will also get into some contention. Anyways, the world is hailing India. Over the last decade, we have seen many a Multinational being headed by an Indian. NASA, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia,Vodafone…. the statistics say that 30-60% of the enablers in these organizations are Indians!! These are a result of brain-drain of 70s and 80s.

Let us go a little further back in History – Body-drain of early 20th century: Many Indians, farm labourers, hardly schooled, during 1900-1920, moved to nations stretching from FIJI in the east to Mauritius, Maldives in the Indian Ocean to West Indies in the Atlantic. Do you realize that quite a few from the next generation of these families are heading the adopted countries as Prime ministers and Presidents? Going ahead, If Barack OBAMA, a child of an African Immigrant, is in contention for the PRESIDENTSHIP OF THE USA this year, Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal, child of an Indian Immigrant, who is the youngest ever governor in the USA (State of Louisiana), is seen as a potential presidential candidate in the near future!!

An article in The Economist, one of the reputed international periodicals, a few months ago, said that vast stretches of inhabited Europe is being rendered lifeless with growth in geriatric numbers and population dwindling. ‘Some of the villages and towns are being taken over by pack of Wolves!!’ It also went on to say, the days or not far when many of the countries in Europe, who hold on to their immigration forts steadfastly, will have to throw open the doors for skilled workers from the subcontinent to help the nations keep going!! This will lead to the next wave of skilled and qualified workers from India move to the corners of the world.

As an example, let me talk about Gulf. The world over, the movement is towards democracy and it has reached the shores of the Gulf Countries. Indians constitute over 40% of the population, majority of them are skilled workers, most of them have moved in the last 30 years. Also, many of the large organizations in these countries now belong to Indians [Jumbo, NM, LuLu, Varkey…..], though an Arab is a part-owner (mostly in books). The countries in this part of the world can neither wish away impending democracy nor the Indians. Once the democratic movement sweeps solidly, aam-janata (majority Indians) will certainly influence policy making and governance, which they already do behind the scenes now.

In such a fast changing context, with huge numbers of trained manpower, India is being hailed as a knowledge super-power!! As a nation are we really realizing our potential? Do we know some hard facts about our nation?

What percentage of students in India, who join schools really finish their class X? What percentage of Indians move to university? Mmmmmmmmmmm…., take a guess?

The numbers are abysmal 6% and .62% (as much as I know, situation may be even worse). Imagine with these numbers, we as a nation are being hailed as ‘Knowledge super-power.’ What would happen to India and Indians, if these numbers are facilitated to grow by a few percentage points?

Dear Mentors, I see Career Launcher, as a movement, will be one of the catalysts to bring about this change, albeit in a small way. This is also one of the reasons, I see, why we have moved into mainstream education – schools, business school that focuses on facilitating entrepreneurial leadership, and pretty soon a university. The other reason being, by facilitating an individual to really blossom in the formative and absorbent first fourteen years of life, we can not only contribute to every individual realize her potential and make her dreams come true, but also that of the nation.

Six schools functioning this year in cities and towns, twenty more taking shape in the villages of Andhra Pradesh; We dream of reaching out quality education to every village in this country in a decade or two, that is about seven lakh of them; Every school, with a vibrant, invigorating and stimulating learning environment, enabling truly leaders of tomorrow.

Also look in this context, our endeavours in the vocational and skill development arena – taking over a few Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) in every state, across the country, creating finishing schools in retail, finance and banking, engineering etc. Integrating these institutions with the schools across the country will enable the youngsters, not only go through stimulating learning at schools, but also facilitate them gain skills that they can use to earn a respectable livelihood even if they do not go for higher education. I am sure, when the world throws open the doors of immigration for skilled workers, they certainly have an opportunity to move across the barriers.

If the children of not-so-educated farm workers, who migrated to various parts of the world, can become the PRESIDENTS and PRIME MINISTERS of the countries, What will the educated India moving around the world be, in a couple of decades from now? I foresee fifty percent of world leaders, by the turn of the century, to be INDIANS!!

Dear Mentors, do we see what an impact we are going to make in this world. Now, do you see the future leaders of the world walking through our Corridors? Are we not mentoring and facilitating them, thereby ‘Inspiring Leadership’ of the future world.

Do you see the role I see for The Career Launcher Family in enabling the FUTURE INDIA!!

Dear Mentors of the World, we truly should be saying – ‘Karlo Duniya Mutti Mein’.

Come, let us make it happen.

Sreeni
sreeni@careerlauncher.com

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