The Old Men Speaketh

St Joseph’s Boys School – Batch of 1984 visited the school. Here are notes on their interactions with our teachers.

Do you think the education system was better in your time or now?

Rajiv’s answer was that it was bad then, and it’s bad even now. His feeling was that you don’t need to do too much in a school. What is important is the time that the student gets with herself, the Solitude. We need to leave students alone more often. Also missing is inputs in manners. Students need to understand that some people need to be respected, not all. That some people you make your peace with, some you need to fight with. That some people you trust, the rest you don’t.

If it is not Academics that is responsible for success, then what is?

Answer 1: Common sense. Rajiv mentions that he hardly uses his algebra in business. He takes decisions using common sense. Amarjeet is a supplier to Kirloskars. The head of Finance there is only a 10th standard pass. The best gemologist in India is an Angutha Chaap, totally uneducated. It is common sense that has got these people to where they are. Sme lateral thinking required to incorporate common sense into a school plan!

Answer 2: Interest. Amarjeet’s astute observation was: not a single person in this group of friends was working in the same field as his education. Amarjeet was dealing with engineering stuff, being a Commerce student. Vinod is a computer science graduate, who has spent two decades working in the petroleum sector. What got them there was their interest and curiosity.

Answer 3: Relearning. One of the corollaries of interest is continuous learning. When Rajiv moved from his distribution business to jewellery, he attended course in gemology. He was 42 years old at that time, and the oldest in his class.

What changes would you like to see in our education system?

The community has to be a bigger teacher than the school. Children are our national wealth and need to be treated that way. If a kid is not interested, let’s not force him. If we stop a kid from doing something, it’s all the more reason for her to do it. We need to ensure that schools recognise the differences in children, and treat different children differently. Interactive methods are preferred any time over chalk and talk. Teachers need to learn how to reduce student anxiety in classrooms, kids should not have any fear when they come to school.

Gautam, whose wife is a teacher in Global International School, had a very interesting observation. Nowadays, a lot of Google is being used in GIS classrooms. Especially for homework. We need to look at how we can do that at PTP.

Why did Rohitesh shift from the corporate sector into teaching?

It had been almost 20 years since Rohitesh had been working with Dr Reddy’s labs. One day he decided that he was bored of the routine. He decided to shift back from Hyderabad to Pune. In Pune, he was a panelist in a conference, where the SIBM director was a co-panellist. This resulted in Rohitesh getting invited as a visiting faculty, something that continues even 10 years later. Rohitesh has been working on his PhD, which he expects to complete very soon.

What also helped was that Rohitesh’s father was a professor at Deccan College. His dad was instrumental in making a Sindhi to English dictionary. Rohitesh’s mum was also into training; she did training programs for the Indian Air Force. Possibly, the genes also helped in his decision to get into teaching!

How was Atul Gopal in school?

I liked Gautam Sinha’s observation. In 9th and 10th, the fellow used to wear full pants!