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Guruvani: I have to inspire students to tread paths beyond confines of textbook

By By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi,

Alka Sahani, Principal, Vidya Jain Public School, talks about where she wants to see her students 10 years down the line and much more.

The role I essay as a principal is a fascinating confluence of duties pertaining to both leadership and management., writes Principal Alka Sahani.

Q. In these politically volatile times, should students be insulated from political upheavals? How do you educate them about the changing scenario?

Alka Sahani: I believe that if we want our students to be the catalysts of change instead of passive and submissive citizens, we have to ensure that they are aware of the local, national as well as global political scenario. This awareness will eventually make the students socially committed and conscientious citizens. By making them politically aware, they come to know what is happening in the country. As academicians, we have to educate the students beyond the four walls of the classroom. We need to make them aware of contemporary issues around the globe and learn from them. They need to be taught to believe in dialogue and deliberative democracy. It can be done through Street plays on contemporary issues.

Q. How do you motivate children to be ‘Green Citizens’?

Alka Sahani: Our school has always been a front–runner in promoting environmental awareness among the students. Propounding the aim of “Thinking globally and acting locally”, the school actively participates in various programmes to sensitise children so that they join hands to usher in a new era marked with a broad commitment to preserve the environmental heritage. The school regularly organises ‘cleanliness drive’ and mega plantation drives like Van Mohatsav. The school has been declared as a no-plastic zone. Campaigns such as zero waste week and e-waste collection are also regularly organised.

Q. Our PM Narendra Modi, in his annual Pariksha Pe Chracha speech, repeatedly motivated the students by saying that they shouldn’t just strive for high marks. Do you say the same to your students?

Alka Sahani: I firmly believe that education is not simply about delivering a curriculum to meet the demands of a rigorous examination system; rather it is deeply entrenched in a vision to stimulate intellectual curiosity among the students so that they develop an intelligent awareness of the world. We are blessed to inhabit a millennium that revels in the transformative indulgence of knowledge, and it is important that we make the most of the opportunity. We have to provide our students an enriched and meaningful learning experience that will allow them to work independently and hone a quintessential spirit of enquiry. I encourage my students to have an understanding of the concepts rather than mere memorization or rote learning. I also urge them to participate more actively in the social, political, economic and cultural decisions of the day in order to change the world for the better.

Q. Pedagogy is changing with leaps and bounds every year. How do you keep pace with it?

Alka Sahani: Education needs to keep pace with the changing times and what better example than the adaption of online teaching modes by the schools worldwide in the Covid-19 pandemic times. When the change is truly embedded, it helps to expand teaching and learning from being something that just happens within four walls to something that can be done anywhere. Our school was one of the pioneer schools in North Delhi to start with structured online classes. The need of the hour is for teachers to embrace the pedagogical changes. This is why the teachers are trained through webinars, hands-on sessions, discussions, capacity building programmes etc. to keep up with the changing trends.

Q. How do you motivate students to take up sports as it is a vital part of school education these days?

Alka Sahani: The motto Khelega Bharat toh Khilega Bharat, aptly articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, envisages that academics and sports should complement each other. It is quintessential that sports activities are carried out accompanied with the academic curriculum for the holistic development of the students. In our school, games and sports are an integral part of the curriculum. The school organises outdoor activities and structured physical activities for the students and accordingly inter-class competitions are held. Every student of the school is required to participate in any one sport of his/her choice and accordingly, the winners are awarded badges.

Q. Where do you see your students and this school 10 years from now?

Alka Sahani: I envision a great and bright future for the students as well as the school. I foresee my students making a mark for themselves globally. Ours is a progressive school and in the future it will be known for the quality and robust education it imparts to its students.

Q. What is the toughest challenge in your profession?

Alka Sahani: The role that I essay as a school principal is a fascinating confluence of duties pertaining to both leadership and management. The chief among the challenges we confront is to sustain the rhythm of the relentless pace of social and cultural advancements. As their mentor, my responsibility is to prevent any dearth in the number of opportunities that the staff and students may partake, and to inspire them to tread paths beyond the confines of textbooks.

Q. Would you inspire your children to take up this profession?

Alka Sahani: I always strive to inspire my students to take up the profession of their calling and by pursuing a career in education, they will benefit society as a whole. The impression a teacher makes on an individual in classroom continues onto the next generation.

Q. Are you still in touch with your teachers?

Alka Sahani: Teacher is a mentor, counsellor and a confidant who opens the minds of the students, acquaints them with their inherent talent and helps them to unleash their capabilities successfully. As a student, I attest to the benefits of a strong relationship between an educator and pupil. My teachers not only just led to my academic enrichment but also my well-being. I am in touch with most of my mentors to whom I am indebted and owe my success to them to a great extent.

Q. What are your three inspiring words for your students?

Alka Sahani: Nurture your best!

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