Every teacher was once a student, and so was I. The philosophy of education I adopted in my eight-year teaching career was shaped by the twenty-five years I lived as a student. As a student, I probably had a long list of qualities that made teachers great: preparedness, energy, mastery in subject matter, being organized, etc. I had an English teacher who acted out a scene of the short story from the prescribed prose text; my physics teacher used to make steel balls fly in the laboratory experiments to demonstrate projectile motion. Though it aroused the interest in the classroom, like many other students, I kept up with the learning in these two courses, but I did not chose to study English literature or pure sciences later in my life. In my observations I found that many qualities which we normally attribute to superior teaching, though significant, does not necessarily correlate to inspiring students and promoting deeper learning. This tentative statement delineates two pivotal attributes that contributed to my overwhelming success as a student, and how I today strive to contribute to this dyadic objective as an instructor.
Creating conducive environment:
I firmly believe creating a conducive environment is far more important than a list of preferred qualities a professor may possess to MBA student accomplishment and teacher success. The talk, however engaging, should never be one-sided. Making extensive use of a Socratic approach to teaching, I create a learning environment where my students are freely allowed to ask questions, and as a teacher, I aim to have a dialogue and a relationship with my students. To either solve a case problem or elucidate a concept or theory, I’d like to break down into a series of questions, the answers to which gradually distill the answer a student would seek.
The mutual respect for everyone in the classroom provides a close-knit, family-like environment very conducive to learning, and in this nurturing realm, I strongly believe students will be enticed to burgeon. I make a sincere effort to reduce the faculty-student distance by connecting with them over the social media outlets, chatting with them at their convenience instead of the firm office hours. I even let my students to call me by my first name, if that will make them feel closer. There are rules agreed by all students to follow, but I also give them the freedom to express their curiosity, passion, and creativity. My lectures in marketing may not be linear and rigid, but it would be coherent – always delightfully surprising, and never condescending. Beneath this seeming chaos and non linearity, there is always an underlying sequence and method that aids edification.
I believe education is a life-long process. Learning does not end on graduation day. Even while pursuing a course, learning for students does not need to stop when the class is over. As a student before and a teacher today, I’ve discovered that only when you inspire an audience they not only become overly attentive, but they are driven by an insatiable curiosity to know more, even after the class or course or program is over. It is often said that a good teacher teaches; a great teacher inspires. And, good is always an enemy of great. The desire to stimulate other people’s curiosity about the subject the teacher teaches revolves around engaging students to new knowledge, interpreting the knowledge shared, and applying the knowledge created. I have found that when students are taught with high rigor and when the knowledge is applied with high relevance, it adequately helps students to gain, retain, and use the knowledge imbibed. Students of today live in a well-informed world; they need inspiration – not teaching.
I have taught in a wide variety of settings – online, boardrooms, lecture halls, and large auditoriums. I have taught different audiences – undergraduate students, middle-level managers, full-time and executive-level MBA participants. I have taught courses across geographies and cultures – the US, Singapore, India, Middle East to mention a few. I have thereby experienced a multitude of cognitive styles presented by students in formal learning environment. It is when the students feel my passion for the subject I am teaching, and the sheer delight to share, I find success in empowering students to learn. It is my intention to continue along this pathway knowing that the journey is more important than the destination. I believe as a teacher I can affect eternity, enlarge people in myriad ways besides the subject matter.