Journey of learning

I started my teaching career about 30 years ago, with my students being just a few years younger to me. Nostalgia and mounting age often make me look back longingly at that period where the teacher was held in high reverence and students looked upon adoringly and respectfully, though the teacher was only a couple of years older.

In the era of no internet and no access to information, except through notes of seniors and library books, the person on the dais in the classroom was highly revered. More so, if the subject was tough and the few available books were in tatters with lots of missing pages. I felt very close to them too, as I was just starting my career, which depended a lot on their success in exams and life. Teacher’s Day was a sentimental affair with roses, small gifts, moist eyes and bouts of tears as the faculty found the affection overwhelming.

That they were older students in college didn’t make much difference, as they were still “kids” who needed understanding and handholding. Most of those bonds are still intact, thanks to social media and its capacity to “connect”.

A slow change took place as I started my family and my career in full swing. In addition to teaching, I had to focus on improving my knowledge and skills. My students ensured that I was constantly updating myself, by asking questions of real life applications and usage of various tools and techniques. This phase also saw me interacting with professionals from other areas who sought advice on many aspects. I struggled hard to keep up and be a good family person as well as a professional. Of course, support from people close to me ensured that the journey was never tough, just bumpy.

As I reached a new level in my career path, in 1995-96, the Internet was upon us. A slow revolution started then, starting to affect us in early 2000. Students found a new “guru”, a more reliable one (according to them) who never scolded them no matter what inane question they asked, helped in their homework, assisted them and of course, connected them.

I benefitted, too, as internet helped me acquire advanced degrees by providing me with reference materials. Orkut, I think, was one of the trendsetters which had a vast majority hooked. To keep up with the younger crowd, I signed up as well and managed to connect with a lot of students online, twisting the teacher-taught relationship a bit. Smartphones weren’t still the norm and teachers and books had some importance left.

The advent of smartphones definitely brought in a major transformation. Social media ensured that students could be friends too, making learning and classroom interesting. My research and interests developed faster as I knew that there were many who took a keen interest in my work. Their inputs and suggestions made us ‘collaborators’ on many a project and took learning to greater heights. 

Learning and teaching is never a stagnant process. The more one puts into the process, the more will be the yield. This journey has been rewarding and enriching. Life has come a beautiful circle.

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