Book Chat: With Dr. Ashok Pandey on his first book "The Pedagogical Life-Essays on Educating India"

Over a quick chat on the release of his much-awaited first book, Dr. Ashok Pandey, NPSC Chairman and Principal, Ahlcon International School shares his motivation to pen his first book and plan forward in authoring more.

Q: Why did you think of writing this book?

Ashok: Two people are responsible for it. One Dr MV Prasad, the doyen of Public schools’ education and my mentor. The other my friend and well-wisher Dr Dhaundhial, a prolific writer himself. Both of them suggested to give a book-form to my thoughts, experiences, casual writings and speeches. I took their counsel seriously. And I thank them for their nudge and encouragement.

Q: Tell us something about the book.

Ashok: This book sums up my understanding of what education is all about. It's in a way a story of my evolution as I encountered the evolving nature of learners and learning expectations. Some of my friends have described the book as an educational travelogue. The purpose of schooling, the role of educators, contemporary issues in education and the way forward are the issues I have attempted to cover in the book.

Q: Which is your favourite part of the book?

Ashok: The favourite part of my book or shall I say the low hanging fruit is Chapter 3: In Conversation with Children. There is so much between teachers and learners that even one full volume on it is not enough. However, I have given equal emphasis to the role of teachers, their professional growth and the influence they exert on the young minds.

Q: On which subject/s do you plan to write in future?

Ashok: What motivates people to make supreme sacrifices; build great institutions; and leave a lasting legacy are studies of great interest to me. I have always been intrigued by people’s attitude towards work. Motivation is far beyond the intrinsic-extrinsic binary. My next book will deal with the foundations of achievement motivation, variables of high performance and organisational excellence.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how your publisher helped in the writing process?

Ashok: Mr RK Jain of Sheriden Book Company, New Delhi has been a reliable companion through the journey of publication of this book. He has been a motivator and a cause for writing this book. This Mr Jain did very intelligently, not asking me directly to pen a book. Rather, he would bring a new book written by a professional, every time he would meet me. I got the hint.

Q: Please tell us 5 of your favourite books and why you like them.

Ashok: Tough to name just five. Divaswapna by Gujju Bhai comes to my mind first. This short story of a passionate teacher who struggled against all the odds to make a difference is a must read for all prospective teachers. ‘The Smartest Kids in the World’ by Amanda Ripley gives an insight into the aspirations that the smart children have across the globe. ‘Schools that Learn’ by Peter Senge brings an account of the making of a dynamic educational institution. It’s an excellent narration, and I recommend it to all school leaders. ‘The Finnish Lessons’ by Pasi Sahlberg is the most authentic story of success of Finnish schools. I attended a talk by the author in King’s College, London and bought the book. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins is my all-time favourite. I am always reminded that being good could severely hamper your journey from being great. Thanks to Collin’s ideas, research and conclusions.

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