True Educators Are Not Easily Deterred

Founder of Super 30, Anand Kumar speaks with BW Businessworld about what it takes to be a true teacher and society’s duty in supporting and respecting our educators at weekly dialogue, Wednesday Wisdom

Anand Kumar is a mathematics educator and founder of the Super 30 programme, which coached underprivileged children for the IIT-JEE entrance exams. His efforts and programme’s success gained Kumar global notoriety. 

At the BW Education weekly dialogue, Wednesday Wisdom, Kumar shared his views on the role of an educator in a society. He believes that for education to be a priority, people need to feel inspired and have a passion for learning. He states,  “[Translated] When people are inspired to educate their children, and education becomes our priority, that is when change can happen, knowledge can spread and history will be made.”

Responsibility of the Educator

As an educator, Kumar’s primary message goes out to his peers. He exclaims, “[Translated] As educators, we need wake up and start inspiring others.” While Kumar is not unsympathetic to the plight of educators during these unprecedented times, he chooses to see the benefits of online teaching and focuses on the job at hand, that is providing education for all.

Kumar repeatedly talks about “true educators” and “true teachers,” which distinguishes between those who teach as a profession and those who teach as a passion. According to Kumar, “[Translated] A true teacher is not deterred by whether a classroom is physical or online. Their imagination is enough to engage students.” This is because when one is passionate about teaching, challenges become opportunities to grow and learn. 

Pandemic and Digital Learning

Like all education institutes, Kumar’s programme had to move online. While the pandemic has been a difficult time, with a lot of loss and challenges, Kumar affirms, “[Translated] My knowledge that was only accessible to 20-30 children can now reach hundreds.”Further adding, that regardless of one’s background, everyone has a form of screen, whether it is the latest model or a second-hand piece, everyone is now ready to spend some money on internet access. Online education has made it possible for anyone with access to gain knowledge and even degrees at a very low cost if not for free. He adds that the Common Service Centre (CSC) can help those who do not have devices. Thousand of CSCs have been set up in villages across India. “The next step is to connect these centres with our service,” says Kumar.

Supporting Education and Educators 

Education and educators can only succeed with proper support from all stakeholders -  teachers, parents, students, government, and society. Kumar comments, “[Translated] Conversations in society can sometimes revolve around politics too much. No one talks about: How UPSC students can perform better? how can government school education be improved? how are we making sure all children receive the opportunity for education? - this awareness is lacking.” He further adds, “[Translated] If our country wants to bring change in the education system we need to get good resourceful teachers. On the government level, teachers should be appointed based on the merits rather than by their degree and should be provided rigorous training.” 

With the shift to online classes and students learning from home, Kumar also asks parents to support teachers by helping to maintain their authority. “[Translated] Parents in these zoom classrooms can sometimes question the teachers in a way that takes away their authority and respectability from the students.” While educators are expected to be knowledgeable, they may not have all the answers. Though there is nothing wrong with asking questions and pointing out mistakes, it should be done in a manner that encourages learning on both sides. He continues, “Just because an educator may not have all the knowledge, they should not be disrespected.”

Anand Kumar takes a philosophical approach to education. Holding the belief that a positive attitude and mindset are the most important factors in spreading knowledge. This attitude needs to come from everyone. Educators must have a passion for teaching; government, institutes and parents must support and encourage this passion; and students must respect it. He says, “The more respect you show an educator, the more inspired they are to teach.”

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