Guruvani: ‘I am a role model to many children’
Sumita Mukherjee, principal, Ryan International School, Noida, talked to HT School Edition about a wide range of educational issues. Excerpts from the conversation:
What is the biggest professional challenge that you face in your role as a principal?
As a principal, I face multiple challenges everyday starting from paperwork and documentation to quick and accountable decision making. Selection of teachers and finding creative ways to evaluate and improve their performance poses another challenge. Also the biggest challenge is to find innovative strategies to discipline the 21st century students and provide them a safe environment full of love and care in order to build their character and turn them into lifelong learners. It is important to recognise individual differences among students and to channelise their energy in the right way by balancing the different needs of each student.
Once a teacher, always a teacher. Do you agree?
Yes it is true that you cannot take a teacher out of me. I identify myself first and foremost as a teacher than being anyone else. There should not be a divide between a principal and classroom teacher because I believe I am both a teacher and a principal. I realise that I am a role model to many children, where I teach them to adopt the right values in life. One cannot be a teacher only by profession or within the four walls of a classroom. We have to be teachers in school, at home, in playground, market or anywhere with our children in whichever capacity we are working – always guiding them with love.
Success has become an obsession with people of all ages nowadays? Comment.
I agree that success has become an obsession with people of all ages and especially the millennials. They want instant success and feel a lot of pressure to succeed. There is no doubt that this is the society which tells us that we are failures if we are not successful entrepreneurs or professionals. Social media also acts as a trigger in seeing how well everyone else seems to be doing in their lives. There is parental pressure also and success is defined more in purely financial terms, whereas emphasis should be on being happy and satisfied. Students should be taught that it is all right even if they failed to win at times and sometimes they are also pressurised to study in a stream which is not their passion. Students must realise that success and hard work are the key traits to build a society but one should not be obsessed with it.
What is your view, is GenNext’s biggest strength? Which are the key areas of improvement.
GenNext’s biggest strength is that they are tech competent, more confident, more aware and multitaskers with natural entrepreneurial skills. Key areas for improvement could be to embrace more ethical and social responsibility and not to rely too much on technology for solving their problems.
Given the diverse needs of today’s youngsters, what emphasis do you put on teacher training?
Teacher training holds a lot of importance because teachers play a crucial role in the growth and development of a student. Providing training to them can help them develop effective classroom management skills. It also promotes teaching skills, new knowledge, better proficiency and will, which can lead to better educational outcomes. It is also needed to help teachers in creating new teaching strategies and to make learning more applicable.
With their vast experience and wisdom, how can the elderly contribute to student’s all round growth and development?
Students can receive the right kind of mentoring through elders as they have vast knowledge and experience. Children can connect to the real world due to real life experiences shared by the elders. Such relations are important for the society. Students can have a desirable moral development, learn complex problem solving and better emotional and social skills from their elders.
What according to you is the role of media in education?
John Dewey stated that education could not be limited within teacher and taught without social environment. And mass media is one such force in the social environment of education. It updates us with the current situations, provides information, vocational awareness, vast knowledge and spreads awareness on various issues. Newspapers like HT Pace Students’ Edition play a great role in spreading education and lead to developing good reading habits.
Tell us about your leisure activities and how you spend time with family and friends?
My leisure activities include spending quality time with family and friends, providing love and care to a few adopted street dogs, listening to music, reading books on social issues and experimenting with cooking new dishes.