Ode to my teacher

Prof N Ananthacharya

The educational psychologist, B F Skinner, in his essay, Designing Higher Education, says, “For reasons which are still beyond analysis, teachers are as sometimes extraordinarily effective even when their students are not outstanding, and students sometimes learn a great deal even without the help of good teachers. A combination of good teacher and good student may have almost miraculous results.

“Nothing much needs to be done about higher education when these conditions prevail, but we must not forget the vast number of ordinary teachers who cannot profit from the selection of good students, or the vast number of ordinary students who do not have good teachers. For them, effective educational practices must be designed… for, education will be held responsible for the millions of young people who are now not only not well prepared for the future, but not even sure that they have one.”

These observations belong to the late 1960s, but strongly reflect the ethos of the early 1930s when Acharya Patashala was founded through a simple act of admitting three students to a ‘class’ by Prof N Ananthacharya. Armed with a Master’s degree from the University of Mysore, Prof N Ananthacharya put Basavanagudi on the ‘education map’ of Bengaluru, on August 15, 1935. This date gathered national fervour later on. Men from all walks of life encouraged him.

This small class progressed steadily, and the endeavour expanded into various institutions. The edifice was supported strongly by his wife Narmada Bai. Now in her nineties, she recalls how she parted with her  jewellery to tide over a severe crunch of funds. Such acts of charity remain only as memory engrams. The silver jubilee souvenir of Acharya Patashala bears a gem of a message from the venerable Dr D V Gundappa, who lauded Prof N Ananthacharya’s efforts in ensuring the growth and development of the institution.

Prof Ananthacharya added suitable courses gradually.  The Acharya Patashala girls’ high school was a leader in its genre. These firsts have added up to an institution that stands juxtaposed between a glorious past and a tumultuous future.
Seventy-five years on the education scene has translated into scores of students, who—having passed through the institutions’ portals—were transformed into whatever they wished to be. Being one such grateful alumnus and a trustee, I seek more meaning into the celebration of Teachers Day. 

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