Teachers should tap the hidden talents of students

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Teachers should tap the hidden talents of students

Tej Karanji Dandia, the celebrated centenarian educationist of Rajasthan, has led a long fulfilling career as an acclaimed mathematics expert and great teacher. Creator of Dandia Technique of handwriting and author of several books on mathematics, he has been actively associated with a number of government and private educational institutions over the years. His study room is full of the trophies, citations and memoirs presented to him in recognition of his accomplishments.

The lovable "Masterji" who celebrated his 100th birthday on January 20 goes down the memory lane during an interview with Abha Sharma  in Jaipur. He  shared his views on education and

changing practices in teaching:

Is it true that you were scared of mathematics as a school kid?  Isn't it strange that later you turned out to be an authority on the subject and Rajasthan Board of School Education had your mathematics book in syllabus for almost 50 years!
Yes, after being dubbed "nikamma" (no good) in 6th standard by my class teacher, I had almost decided not to appear in examinations but thanks to Sanghi Moti Lalji, who really knew how to read a child's psyche and boost morale, I developed great aptitude for mathematics. That was the turning point in my life.

He was a great influence on you in shaping you as an educationist?
That's right. It is easy to discard a child or dub him no good. Even the government and teachers today judge a student's skills with mere "pass or fail" but no one tries to discover the hidden talent or improve the weak points in a child.
"Kharad keemti, Roop Anokha, Dekh Chala Tu San; Ek Bhool Se Raunak Bhage, Rah Jaye Pashan."
(A student is like a precious jewel, with hidden beauty. It needs to be polished with great care for a wrong cut can devoid it of its sheen, leaving it a mere stone.)

What was your hallmark as a teacher?
I used my capabilities to the best and did regular introspection. I have always believed "one who dares to teach must never cease to learn", so one should always be a student in order to be a good teacher.

During examinations, students turn to temples seeking divine blessings and parents get their horoscopes studied before picking up a career. How can one build self-confidence?
I personally believe the God helps those who help themselves. As goes a local saying "khud chalya hi chalsi, sath-sath Bhagwan" (if you move, the God will walk hand in hand with you).

Medium of teaching is a contentious subject in the country. What do you feel?
It is good to learn and master English as a language but it is not right to impose it in the non-English speaking rural belts. "Taleem Angrezi ki jarurat to hai magar, sabak munasib hai madre juban me" (English teaching is a global necessity but lessons are best comprehended in mother tongue).
Learning English is good but let our mindset be Indian." We are blowing candles on birthdays, forgetting our age old culture of lighting up lamps, communicating in English, printing wedding cards in English. Do we need to be slaves of the West?"

What ails the present education system?
We are simply producing robots not "humans" who can leave behind impressions on the "sands of time".  Teachers are turning into mere tuition machines, so do governments and institutions.  

What keeps you fit and so alert ?
Age is the gift of the God but simple food and regular exercise keeps me going. More importantly, I keep clutter away from my mind. It is necessary to balance the emotional and rational things in life to have a successful practical approach.

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