Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The joy of teaching

Most broadcast emails in my institute email folder end up getting deleted but this one caught my fancy. The Parent-Teacher Association of Kendriya Vidhyala (KV) in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus was looking for volunteers from among the well-educated institute community who could take a few classes in the school.

With several of the regular KV teachers away on evaluation duties, the idea was to keep the students engaged and hopefully ignite their minds by having researchers from IISc talking to them. There was no pressure to stick to any prescribed syllabi. The volunteers were literally left free to teach whatever they wish. For instance, Karthik taught lateral thinking and English to ninth grade students. 

Notwithstanding the limited experience I had – on occasions, I’d taught my own classmates in school and college just before exam days – I always enjoyed teaching. It gave me immense satisfaction to be able to make someone understand something. Since my early days of education, I’ve been secretly taking mental notes of what I liked in a teacher and things that I disliked. Now it was time to put it all into use in a real classroom, albeit with a bunch of eleventh standard pupils.

Keeping my crippled condition in mind – I was convalescing from a knee surgery - I opted for a solitary lecture of one hour duration. I chose “Physics in Daily Life” as I wanted my pupils to look at physics not as yet another subject to mug up and score off but as a powerful weapon that when wielded with skill can explain much of the phenomena we see around us.

Eleventh grade students can be really unruly and obstreperous I was told. A fellow volunteer apprehended that somebody could possibly run away with my crutch leaving me stranded! I was expecting the worst. But I was in for a pleasant surprise.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the class was that the girls far out-numbered the boys. I’d never seen such a thing in all my education. I tried to make my pupils feel comfortable by starting off with some small talk and slowly delved into the subject matter. Most of them were very receptive and enthusiastic. Their eagerness and inquisitiveness fuelled my own urge to put the concepts across.

Throughout the class, the modus operandi was - present an example from daily life, discuss and explain why it happens with a liberal dose of hints and humor, and then unearth the law behind it. I won’t say I 'covered' such and such topics. But at least I managed to touch upon the humble yet profound concepts of Newton’s Laws of Motion and Newton’s Law of Gravitation.

I used to hate it in school when teachers used to go on lecturing several minutes beyond the stipulated time. Hence I made it a point to stop dot on time. And as I bid them good bye, I got what I shall call the icing on the cake. They applauded with smiles and claps. If that’s what they call the joy of learning, I wish I could tell them the joy of making someone learn. Thank you XI ‘A’.


  1. lallu boy... i am also interested in such things.. if u need an assistant call me.. hihi...

  2. Awesome! Glad to know you had this experience. Nice work. :-)

  3. Lalit,
    An eye for observation, that you attempted to share with the students, is the one of the most valuable 'gyaan' a teacher can give ! If I can express it in another level, I believe you have sown a seed in the generation. Hope we get more opportunities to nurture these !

  4. Lalit,
    Congrats !! Looks like you and the students had a great time ! :-) Enjoyed reading your post ! And its amazing that you volunteered to do this in spite of your injury..
    I like your site's background too! Looks fresh !

  5. @ ASR: Tip - Do not delete all broadcast emails ;)
    Anyway, will let you know next time.

    @ indisch, Deepak Malani, salil kashyap, Karthik: Thank you very much :)

  6. Lalit,
    I've added a link to this post of yours on my blog. Thanks for you generous gesture:-) Hope your leg is better !

  7. That's great to know Lalit! I am sure the student's must have enjoyed your lecture a lot and also felt enriched..and their enthusiasm must have made you feel good too

  8. @ Karthik: Thanks for linking. Leg is definitely better now :)

    @ vinay: It sure was a feel-good experience...