Open your textbook to page 10! Read the page! Write down the question! Write down the answer!"
Is this how teachers should teach?
Is this how learners should learn?
Is this how the schooling system works?
Meet the person who asks these very valid questions about the Indian schooling system. This is Mr. Arvind Gupta, a renowned scientist, science teacher, and maker of science toys made from trash - An individual who challenges the "traditional" or "conventional" schooling system in India. His works are imbued with a desire to help the children of today learn through involvement. On January 26th 2018, this accomplished educator was awarded the Padma Shri Award. This is the fourth-highest civilian award by the Indian Government which is bestowed on those who achieve much for the country in various subject realms. Mr. Arvind Gupta was awarded for his contribution in the field of Science and Education, where he strives to make learning science fun, understandable, and interactive in schools across the nation. The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) at the Chandrashekhar Auditorium hosted an event, open to the public to felicitate his outstanding achievement.
At the start of the event, Mr. Arvind Gupta's colleagues (or people who have worked with him when he was at IUCAA) gave short speeches about their interactions with Mr. Gupta. Padma Vibhushan Jayant Narlikar, who was Founder-Director of IUCCA described him as enthusiastic and involved in science education. Former Director of IUCCA, Prof. Naresh Dadich mentioned that Mr. Gupta is very popular with a fan following, whom he jokingly called the 'Arvind-Affected People.' He revealed that "Arvind's lab gets the most people who visit," because "He makes science playful and fun." Prof. Dadich also praised Mr. Gupta's simple methods of teaching science, since "Teaching science with complicated machines and museums is difficult to understand." Another friend of Mr. Arvind Gupta, Mr. Arvind Paranjape (who was unable to attend the event) met Mr. Gupta when he was arranging the National Science Fair many years ago. At that time, Mr. Gupta was a science reporter. Mr. Paranjape described in his letter that their precious 40-year-old friendship would forever be cherished by him. Ms. Vidula Mhaiskar, another colleague also expressed her gratefulness toward Mr. Gupta. She also mentioned Mr. Gupta as one to lead a "principle-centric life," who simply loves learning. Another colleague from IISER introduced Mr. Arvind as a mentor, who encouraged him to write a book on the "History of Chemistry," since there was already a book on the "History of Physics." All of these stories proved to me just how much of a warm, passionate, and assiduous individual Mr. Arvind Gupta is.
As one of the attendees, I was very excited to see, hear, and meet a "Padma Shri" in person. And I must say, Mr. Gupta certainly lives up to his title, as he shared his views and experiences in the most inspiring manner. As a learner, I agreed to all of his beliefs about education and the learning process.
Here are 10 Quotes I picked up from his speech, which I felt were the most inspiring and memorable statements.
"The school must fit the child, not the other way around."
As a growing individual who wants to make the most of our learning years, the educational system provided should be wholesome and fitting to the student's needs. A comfortable learning environment stimulates more productivity, energy, and facilitates the learning process effectively.
"All students fear because they don't develop creativity, are afraid of failing, are bored of their school curriculum, cannot make sense of their schooling, or are pressured by their parents expectations."
Many students of my age succumb to the pressures of their academic, social, family, and extra-curricular life. These place the students within boundaries, where they are unable to express themselves. Regimental brick-and-mortar institutions with incomprehensible learning material further boxes them in. However, schooling years are essential, where one should develop their individuality in a happy learning space.
"Unless there is soil, there would never be a spring harvest."
This metaphor perfectly describes the importance of foundation principles of any subject taught at various institutions. Rather than plain textbook knowledge, one should extract information from their learning which they can implement in their later life. Hands-on learning guarantees more recall through projects, presentations, workshops, experiments, and active discussions. This is the ultimate recipe to success - or as Mr. Gupta describes it, a spring harvest.
"A child is a very good assessment of a teacher."
I can comment on this statement from a student's perspective. A student genuinely appreciates when the teacher considers his/her feedback, and applies it to the class. It enhances the learning experience within the class, and strengthens the bond between teacher and student.
"A teacher should understand the importance of emotive words that a student speaks."
Emotive words are powerful, as one word can represent a string of emotions a student feels. Connecting with the children beyond the classrooms is encouraging, as they feel loved and cared for.
"Education is too important to be simply handed over only to the experts."
Educational experts only know so much, since their rulebook on "How to Teach" or "How to Run A School" does not dictate what actually takes place at the campus. Education is indispensable, so the involvement of students, parents, teachers, and principle is required to make it possible.
"We must follow the digital dream the right way."
The digital dream encompasses a larger stream of the Internet besides social media and browsing platforms. Online learning resources are valuable, and are vital to increase understanding of the learning of anything. Most importantly, if it's online, it's accessible to everyone, too.
"Break every rule."
Although this statement sounds radical and irrational, it is quite relevant. Most people have reached great heights since they carved their own path to fame, fortune, and happiness. The world doesn't need robots, but a generation which are capable of creativity and innovation.
"Our lives our short. We make little money. But we must leave a legacy for our children."
The future generation are the makers of tomorrow. It is the previous generation's responsibility to help sow the seeds and plant the water. With just the right amount of passion and patience, the plant might just bloom into beautiful flowers.
So, are you inspired by Mr. Arvind Gupta to be the change you want to see in the world?
Visit Arvind Gupta's webite here.
View his translated books on The Archive.
When Siya is not attending DLRC SHS School-College she is penning blogs, working on her startup on recycling paper with her peers , performing in concerts using flute (even as part of a band) . This blogpost has been reposted from Simply Siya.