Guruvani: ‘Inculcating values is a big challenge’
What is the biggest professional challenge that you face in your role as a principal?
Heading an institution is not an easy job; even more so in the case of a school of repute such as DPS which has a legacy of excellence. As an educator I have witnessed a paradigm shift in the functioning and expectations from schools. At present, the biggest professional challenge is to inculcate moral values, empathy, kindness and tolerance in children who are growing up in a degenerating social environment. These basic human values are becoming rare. I believe it is incumbent upon schools to ensure that children follow good, if not ideal, behaviour.
Once a teacher, always a teacher. Do you agree?
You can take a teacher out of a school, but you can never take teaching out of a teacher. Educators are apart from other professionals. Skill and dedication are exhibited by all professionals but it is the commitment towards teaching, making a difference and imparting lifelong learning, which makes teaching a passion. One who believes that they can help people with their knowledge, can never stop sharing it, hence a teacher will always be a teacher.
Success has become an obsession with people of all ages nowadays? Comment.
We are running without pause in today’s fast-paced lives. Contentment is frowned upon by most people and is compared with stagnation. It saddens me to see that there seems no way to make people stop and think. They are running after benchmarks of success which seem elusive because there will always be someone better than you. To my students also, I encourage them to achieve their dreams, but not at the cost of their health, home or happiness. I tell them that there is no fixed definition of success. So they must find and hold onto what gives them a sense of accomplishment, as the rat race is never ending.
What in your view is GenNext’s biggest strength? Which are the key areas of improvement?
This generation is defined by its smartness. I have been around children all my life and I have never seen a generation so sharp as the ones born in the new millennium. Technology has enriched their lives. Their adaptation to technology driven lifestyle is perhaps their biggest strength. They understand the power science has to make lives more comfortable. The key areas of improvement are they should take pride in being and Indian and not ape the west mindlessly. They should work more on being a human rather than acting like a robot. They must value morals and the cultural fibre of our country.
Given the diverse needs of today’s youngsters, what emphasis do you put on teacher training?
A teacher must continually upgrade herself so that she can meet the learning needs of today’s students. A present day classroom is a mix of students from different backgrounds. Add the emotional quotients of the students and what we have is a diverse classroom, where a singular teaching approach of ‘one size fits all’ will be a failure. Teachers need training to prepare study material. The use of technology in classrooms can make a lesson interesting, so can out of the box assignments and assessments. These skills can be developed only if the teacher is always upgrading her skills: a teacher is a student herself.
How can the elderly contribute to students’ all-round development?
Senior citizens are priceless resources, but it is disheartening that they are not being utilised. Students who come from families with grandparents tend to be more understanding, aware and responsible. The elderly can join hands with schools/institutions and can use their wisdom to guide students. Grandparents are always welcomed at DPS, GBN and we invite them to share experiences, conduct workshops or simply have fun with children.
What is the role of media in education?
Media is one of the most important sources of informal education. I must appreciate how the media houses have come up with content specially designed for students. Curating news and articles which will interest young minds is an interesting initiative which has found favour among the students. Seeing something in black and white provides the reader with such authenticity that the information is accepted without question. With all the propaganda being published and broadcast via the media, one can only hope that the news presented before students is true and unbiased. Positive news and informative articles can be helpful in adding to the student’s knowledge and confidence.
Tell us about your leisure activities and how you spend time with family and friends?
I like to go on evening walks and read inspirational biographies. When I am with my family I ensure that we spend quality time with each other with no one attending to mobile phones. At meal times we share, appreciate and understand the needs and challenges faced by each member. Most importantly we believe in respecting each family member.
(Indira Kohli, principal, Delhi Public School, GBN )