I have been blessed with some wonderful teachers over the years. They have ignited in me a passion for the subject I now study and teach. If it were not for these truly inspiring figures in my life I would have a very different life.
Almost anyone who has studied the sciences in India knows that the way sciences are taught in India makes it very difficult to continue your love affair with the subject. Throughout school, the focus is on getting ‘good marks’ so you can get into a ‘good’ university. When you reach the university level you strive to get ‘good’ marks so you can get a good job and so it goes on like that. Somewhere on that journey, you forget why you undertook the journey, ‘to learn something’.
According to me, the purpose of education, whether it is in school or at university, is to gain knowledge. Sadly in India, the assessment does not reflect the learning you have attained. There is at most times a great disconnect what you learn and what you are tested on. My schools were not much different but along the way I found some teachers to guide my learning which made me the person I am today.
I would not comment on how it is worldwide but the current state of Indian education is that it stymies true learning. There is rigour in our education system and it does produce some great minds but unfortunately, it does not produce many original thinkers. Many would argue that some of the most successful people, in sciences, arts or business are Indians. And they would be correct. But if you look more deeply you will see that most have completed their further education outside India and many have not even had formal education.
Eventually, in learning varied subjects you find your passion and you continue in that field to attain mastery. It can be that you are passionate about engineering, medicine, theatre or music. As long as you are passionate about something, you can put your heart and soul into it and attain great heights.
I feel a major reason for this is that we do not have many original and inspiring educators. Unfortunately, you do not come across too many teachers who inspire the young minds and enhance their potential. I was fortunate in that instant. I got some wonderful teachers along the way. They taught me to how to think originally and critically about my subject.
I also had some wonderful parents who did not want me to take up a specific career because it would be the ‘right’ thing to do. They allowed me to study mathematics in university knowing full well that it was not a traditional field of study one chose in India. In conventional wisdom, these subjects do not lead to what is called ‘successful’ careers. But if I can echo one of the characters from a popular Indian film,
Do not chase success, as you will fail. But if you chase excellence then success will follow you.
I came here to the Australian National University to further my learning in Statistics and Actuarial Studies. I also teach the same subject in my department. I am still learning to be a better teacher every day but my goal is to be as inspiring as my teachers.
I try to instil the same passion I have for my subject in my teaching style.
I know that as long as I am not excited about the subject I teach, my students will never get excited about it.