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Teaching: A lifetime process!

Rajendra Chandorkar

Since the day we enter this wonderful world we start to learn knowingly or otherwise. We continue to do so, till in the end we philosophically come to know that we hardly know anything. The infinite scope of knowledge is so magnanimous that it takes years to even know what we do not know. Yet we have our ego, pride and vanity. One person, who ought to know maximum about the phenomenon of acquiring knowledge and further disseminating it, is a teacher. Especially those, who are teaching topics of great dynamism, realize that they have to be ready for the current and future trends.

Small help is great:

One of the acknowledged authorities in technical education narrated an experience. Long ago in late sixties he started his career as an Asst. Professor in one of the regional engineering colleges. He taught with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Somehow, he could not gauge the understanding in the students. He thought he did, but could not be sure of the same. He was lucky in a way that his seniors were involved in the improvement of the juniors. One of them attended a few of his sessions and said “Young Man, you are very well prepared, your charts are excellent, you have current knowledge but you are too fast even for me, so the students would be hard pressed to keep pace with you”. The young teacher could understand the tip and implemented the suggestions.

The scene changes and after 17 years the now not so young teacher is presenting a paper in an international conference. His senior teacher is in the Chair and listening very carefully to what is being presented. At the conclusion he stands up and congratulates the speaker saying “It is incredible that how well you have picked up the knack of expressing the matter at a speed which is ideal for the audience. It was a great appreciation and the gentleman relishes it even today.


The skill of the teacher lies mainly in simplifying the complex topic in a stepwise process. The topic made simple can be the solid foundation for a future application of the concept for finding solutions. If possible the teacher should have a constant example which should be applied in all concepts. Same names, same situations somehow make better impressions on the student’s mind.

The matter to be delivered in a slot and the receiving capacity of the least capable student has to be matched. One factor is the speed of delivery, while other factors are easy illustrations, anecdotes, personal experiences, citing of problems and more importantly their solutions achieved through the presently taught topic. The involvement of the students in the lectures greatly depends on the quality aspect. The quality of the teaching which reflects in contents, clarity, delivery style, ability to cite appropriate examples and the overall impression of the teacher on the students. Sometimes it is seen that the same lecture is received wonderfully well in one section, but totally fails to generate any enthusiasm in the other. The reason can be traced to the other aspect of the quality, which concerns the students. It mainly deals with the grasping power, interest levels, time of the day, mood of the students, and impact of the subject on the overall curriculum. The sum total of all these and many other such factors can affect the teacher. No teacher can teach if the students are not interested and unfortunately so there has been no exact rule by which the process can guarantee any appreciable success.

Teaching is bilateral:

Many students tell the teacher that the teacher is great, he sounds good but they do not comprehend. In such cases the Socratic approach of questions asked by the students and suitably answered by the teacher helps. The point here is that even for asking the questions the students have to be attentive. In most Hindu scriptures this Q&A approach is used.

What the teacher wants the students to understand and what the students really do, can be separated by a huge gap. To bridge such a gap the teacher can employ the reverse presentation technique. In this process the teacher asks any student randomly to summarize the lecture. This has two benefits. The first is that all students are comparatively more attentive in such classes and the second is the lesson gets revised just in time.

The students sooner or later learn what the teacher teaches but the teacher has to be on his toes to keep up with the students. The teacher is worried about his knowledge and ideally should take pains to increase and advance the knowledge, but he is more worried about how to transfer his knowledge to the students. This is very tricky and the tricks change very fast as per the requirements of the subject and the students. Unless the students can apply what is been taught, the rest is really of little consequence. The process of teaching is one of the best examples of bilateral activity and the success can only be achieved by a combined effort. There is nothing like a successful teacher without successful students but strangely there can be successful students in absence of successful teachers.

In the competitive educational world some smart people are creating confusion by misinforming the students that they are like customers. It is here the thinking teachers come in and explain to the students the disadvantages of being a customer and advantages of being a student. So if one really wants to be a teacher he has to study much more than the students. The teacher has to learn to anticipate “What next” and must prepare for the answers. The relationship between the students and the teacher should ideally continue well past the final exam and again the teacher has to be proactive in such a process. The teacher has to explain the scope of the learning on a lifetime scale so that the students really learn while they are in the colleges. Their education is more fruitful than those students who are after the paper centric education. The stress on the course completion in a mechanical fashion can produce results but it rarely takes responsibility of assured understanding in the students. What ultimately matters is how much learning the student can use for the betterment of self, the organization he works for and the society where he spends his entire life. Each student in such direction is a true certificate of appreciation for a teacher and many teachers confirm that it is far more satisfying than the material benefits.

The author is The Dean, Training and Placement at the Lokmanya Tilak Jankalyan Shikshan Sanstha, Nagpur.

Rajendra Chandorkar

Aabha 53 Vasant Nagar,

Nagpur: 440022

Cell: 9423102543/

Very well said. Simplified Concepts shared with students open up their own direction of thinking. Teacher must learn, convert learning to simplified concepts and share the same with their students.
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