We Need Educators Who Inspire Us to Become Educators Like Them - Dr Vidisha Vallabh

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

The best way to understand any concept is by teaching it in simplest words. Keeping this in mind I started my career as a teacher in 2014, while pursuing post-graduation in Community Medicine from the prestigious Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences in Dehradun. 

Under the able guidance of my senior faculty members, I slowly gained confidence to face a lecture theatre choc-a-bloc with students, to work with them in labs and to introduce them to the rural and urban community, we work with. After completing my MD, I realized that I enjoyed my interaction with students and hence joined my Alma-mater for a career in public health and teaching. 

I learn from my students as much as they learn from me. A good feedback system from students as well as my teachers has helped me shape up as the teacher I am today.

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

Indian Education system acts like a common mould for creativity that comes in all shapes and sizes. From the day a child starts his/her/their formal education in India, they are made to learn what the society expects from them, not what they wish to know. Not everyone needs to be a lawyer or an engineer, we need more poets, dreamers and historian. 

Children are expected to follow a pattern of learning, which has been followed since decades with high emphasis on theory and none on hands on. Our education system fulfills the cognitive and psycho-motor demands to some extent but compared to education system in Singapore or Netherlands we offer nothing in the effective domain. Hence, we have excellent followers but no leaders.

A complete overhaul of Indian education is needed to bring out the best in us.

Starting from basic skills like holding a conversation to cooking to taking care of oneself should be started in all primary schools. An open library and sports room are as important as a classroom. Self-directed learning, asynchronous classes, smart classrooms, educational trips, project-based learning are few of the methods we need to incorporate in our schools.

In higher education, a curriculum revamp is much needed, though it is often overlooked, citing low funds, poor interest, lack of time and resources. Modern medicine is can no longer afford as “see one-do one” attitude anymore, in view of the sheer number of medical cases and violence. E-learning, standardized patients, simulation exercises are quickly becoming the norm in medical education due to technological advancement and more so due to current pandemic.

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

Rather than asking students to imagine a concept, teachers are bringing in models and simulations to their classrooms. Fair number of teachers are experimenting with Abacus and Vedic Mathematics. Many schools have already introduced technology in the form of smart classes, simulated environments, games, videos and flipped classrooms. Nature walks and poetry appreciation have become a regular feature.

If we look at medical education, Department of Medical education in colleges have been tirelessly working to make learning a gratifying process. Introduction of online synchronous and asynchronous learning, virtual class videoconferencing system, simulation-based learning has been introduced to bridge the gap in medical education by delivering cost-effective, repeatable, standardized medical training on demand independent of location, instructor deficit and financial concerns of the student. 

Testing has become relatively stress-free with objective structured clinical/practical examination (OSCE/OSPE). As a teacher, especially since the pandemic, I have been conducting regular online classes with problem-based learning, self-testing and a robust feedback system which requires an active participation of both the teacher and the learner.

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

Education is just a stepping stone towards opening our eyes to the wonders of this world. Many have created successful careers without the advantage of high education, by relying simply on their people skills, experience and of course a burning desire to succeed. Hence education simply opens us up to the possibility of what we can become. Education is the tinder-box to the fire of inquisitiveness in each of us. Though it can never be superior to the zeal of learning, good education acts as a catalyst for worthy learners.

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

Teaching was a profession much revered in ancient times. In India, though it is a respectful profession, it is not a rewarding profession, financially and career-wise. Despite nurturing great minds, teachers often find themselves being dealt the shorter end of the stick. But the hustle-bustle, the pay-check of a corporate job though missed by teachers is not as satisfactory as being loved and recognized by students, years after teaching them.

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

To be incorporated in teaching and learning methods, technology should be low-cost and adaptable to local needs. Subsidized internet and access points, technology introduction and refresher courses for teachers will pave the way for e-learning in schools and colleges. Teachers can design their courses, manage their schedules, give formative and summative assessment and grade them in lesser time as compared to conventional methods.

The learning environment created by virtual learning is unparalleled. Be it a virtual tour of heart or recreating a battle ground, simulation creates an easy and instantaneous grasp of concepts for the students. Quizzes in the form of online games and problem-based learning enhances the learning and from copying answers, students can engage to collectively to design solutions. Technology can thus facilitate basic knowledge acquisition, better decision making, team learning and act as a practice for the actual event.

7. Why does India need more educators like you?

India needs more educators, not just like me, but from all walks of life with a brilliant array of experiences, because after all this is what teaching is, sharing my experiences with learners. India needs teachers who are open to change, ready to accommodate technology in their lives. We need passionate educators who are experts in their field, but are always ready to learn more, teachers who can encourage and open the minds of learners, empathetic teachers who are buttresses to their students, teachers who cheer students in all their wins.

We need educators who inspire us to become educators like them.

Interview by - Sanjana Jain
We Need Educators Who Inspire Us to Become Educators Like Them - Dr Vidisha Vallabh We Need Educators Who Inspire Us to Become Educators Like Them - Dr Vidisha Vallabh Reviewed by Sanjana Jain on August 02, 2020 Rating: 5

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