"Better Than a Thousand Days of Diligent Study Is One Day With a Great Teacher." - Mr. Krishna Kuppachi

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1. Tell us more about your experience as an educator.

While I was doing my MBA, I started teaching ‘Aptitude for Competitive exams’ on a part-time basis. Although Aptitude is not a core subject, it was very challenging to teach, and more importantly, it gave me an opportunity to test my ability to engage a class. When I got back to teaching after a 12-year career in banking, I found that all the challenges in teaching were still there. This time, I had to deal with a new generation of students, who had at their fingertips, all the information that the internet had to offer.  I also realized that Millennials are very well equipped to become the best leaders in the industry.

Being an educator is a wonderful experience. Every new batch of students brings along a new perspective and a new approach to teaching. Learning is fun, so is teaching.

2. What is your opinion of the Indian education system and how would you like t
o change that?

I feel that the Indian education system has experienced some positive evolution in the last few years, but they're still is scope for substantial development. While there has been a general move towards emphasizing the practical aspects of theoretical concepts, the implementation of such a move needs to be streamlined. For example, the project work done in college is, in theory, a good component of formal assessment. Yet, it is often not effectively implemented or monitored.

At the school level, rote learning continues to be the focus as far as assessment is concerned.

Curriculum design also seems to be a matter of concern. A regular B.Com student needs to take up 36 courses over the three years of study. This adds a lot of pressure to the course and the faculty often have to rush to complete the syllabus rather than give students the time to understand concepts.

There also needs to be a comprehensive approach to developing employability skills in students. The current assessment model of our education system focuses on reading and writing skills. However, to successfully clear interviews, listening and speaking skills are very important, and these are rarely assessed. This applies even to professional courses.

3. What changes in the teaching methodologies have you seen in recent times?

The case study approach and teach-backs are gaining popularity in various streams of education. These certainly bring in a practical aspect to the understanding of the concepts. A collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach to learning is yet to take formal shape in the curriculum. At school level education, the use of digital boards and research-based presentations are gaining momentum. These will surely help the student community at large.

One radical change that I would love to see in the teaching methodology is the inquiry-based learning method. We get used to reproducing answers for a specific set of questions. Instead, if we encourage students to frame questions, I believe that it would enable a better grasp on the underlying concepts in the course and develop in them higher-order thinking skills.

4. How does education help one do well in their career?

At school-level, education helps in giving a broad perspective on a range of subjects. Students move on to choose specialization and micro-specialization as part of their college education. Given the dynamic nature of the economy and fast-changing business models, it is imperative for students to be abreast of the latest happenings to make their education relevant to their careers. We are a part of an integrated tech-driven global economy. The advent of AI, ML, and Data Analytics is transforming businesses. The traditional approach to education is no longer enough. Supplementary technical skills are also a necessity.

5. Do you think teaching as a profession is viewed at par with corporate jobs?

That’s a very interesting question. I don’t think we have reached that stage yet. Having said this, new-age EdTech firms and businesses do consider teaching professionals as corporate partners. In my opinion that is not enough. The teaching profession overall (school, college, professional, etc) needs an image-uplift.

6. How can we adopt technology to make teaching more effective?

Technology can be a distraction given the ubiquity of social media. One can easily lose track of time. However, its also an inevitable part of life today. Creative ways of using technology will certainly help in effective teaching. Already many EdTech companies have started gamification to create interest in learning in the student community. The formal education system should make some of these platforms a part of its system. Interactive quizzes and revision techniques can supplement learning.

Moreover, not just technology adoption, approach to teaching (especially at the higher level) needs review as well. Teaching, in my opinion, should be more hands-on.

I’ve always appreciated the approach of medical studies. Some of the faculty are from the practice and hence more relevant to the teaching and latest advancements in the field of study. Shouldn’t regular education adopt a similar style?

7. Why does India need more educators like you?

Having a corporate experience does help in transferring knowledge. The insights that I gained from handling various corporate roles helped me transfer such critical inputs to the student community. It surely helps to be able to present a more factual detail than a perceived one. I would suggest that traditional educators should be encouraged to seek more corporate exposure, to enable them to experience first-hand some of the skills needed to perform a task. This exposure will help them guide the students to gear-up for likely challenges in the future. This will also help make the subjects more relevant. It is a fine balance between theory and practice.

An effective educator needs to be creative in engaging the students. They should also be encouraged to develop a sense of punctuality, time-management and self-management.

Educators should lead by example. After all, the students emulate educators!

- Mr. Krishna Kuppachi,  Mentor at Ed Station

- Interviewed by K.Anushree

- Edited by Shilpy Sharan

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