Stalwarts 2022

Education Stalwarts 2022 | Mr. S. C. Arora, Vice-Chairman of LPS Global School, Noida | Leaders in Education

Education: ‘It is the manifestation of perfection already in man.’

                                                                        Swami Vivekananda

MOTIVATING AND INSPIRING STAFF AND STUDENTS

Education is the most effective tool to change society for the better. To impart education, it is essential to have dedicated and committed teachers. Education is a matter of the heart. When a teacher teaches from the heart and not as a duty, best results are achieved. Here, the principal plays a pivotal role. He/she has to create a culture where the potential of the teachers and the students is realized. Hence, the principal has to play many roles. One of the most influential roles is that of empowering teachers so that they in turn inspire the students.   

Since the principal holds such an important position, he should possess sterling qualities. He should be a man of impeccable character and complete integrity, a man of vision, determination and should be self-driven. He should be willing to take risks and be full of self-belief and possess a wide perspective. When a principal fosters a staff’s collective belief in themselves, the staff will incorporate that positive attitude towards their own motivation and enthusiastic engagement to work with students.

Teaching is the noblest of all professions and every teacher is involved in the task of nation building, which should be the driving force behind all teachers. The idea is never to ‘catch’ the mistakes of teachers, rather to be a critique and give them constructive suggestions for their overall development. Teachers are given responsibility in the task of building up the school and also be involved in the process of decision making. Therefore, teachers’ input is solicited in the frequently held staff meetings where a consensus is reached for any innovation to be implemented. This results in educators putting their heart and soul into the teaching-learning process. When teachers are upbeat, students also feel enthused; the work then is most productive.

The present education system focuses on cramming. Most teachers believe in teaching the text and ask children to memorize and reproduce the same in exams. This method curbs independent thinking. Memory is mechanical: intelligence is consciousness. Therefore, our thrust in the school is to lead the learners towards original thinking. This is achieved by putting unusual questions which are not given in textbooks. Perforce, they are required to think. Questions like – Where does the dew come from? Where does it disappear? Why is the sky blue? – will definitely make them think.

It’s important that the staff’s and principal’s thinking is aligned. To create such a shared vision, I continuously discuss with the staff and influence them to think in the direction of the objectives. Together, we chalk out programmes and hold events where they are actively involved in the planning and execution so that they have a sense of ownership of such projects. When a person thinks that it is his enterprise, he ensures its implementation to the hilt.

Teachers must be kept motivated at all times. The principal must be passionate about his work and exude positive energy and optimism to keep the workers high on motivation. Passion is infectious; it rubs on the teachers and in turn on the students. I rarely say “no” to reasonable suggestions of teachers for the growth of the school. Another way of motivating staff is through genuine praise and encouragement. There have been mistakes, missteps and hurdles in actualizing the vision, but I do not denounce them. I have held their hands and guided them.

The principal cannot achieve anything all by himself. He must build up a great team and leverage each worker’s strength. He must not tread on their sensitive toes and has to be careful not to hurt their self-esteem. He must boost their morale and keep providing guidance. They must feel that their contribution is being recognized. A sense of justice and fair play must prevail. I treat everybody alike. Merit and output are the main criteria for recognition, rewards and promotions. To strengthen the team, the leader should give credit to the whole group for achievements and take the blame on himself for failures.

The school structure is like a pyramid: there is only one head and the rest are all teachers. But to keep the staff motivated, one has to create positions of responsibility as an incentive. In the schools I have headed, I created many positions of a little higher status. For instance, class in charge for all sections, academic in charge, positions of heads of primary, middle and senior school were created. Teachers were given responsibility for cultural, literary and other activities. Controllers of internal examinations and CBSE work were appointed. All these positions carried some monetary allowance as an incentive. It served two purposes- one, work was done efficiently; two, teachers were motivated.

As far as students are concerned, there are numerous ways to keep them motivated, right from narrating value-based anecdotes to providing them with a host of facilities in school to develop their unique talent.

Education should aim at multi-dimensional growth of the child. It should empower and liberate an individual. It shouldn’t be confined to the academic subjects, but should inculcate human values too. It should help in internalizing values such as empathy, resilience, adaptability and concern for the environment. Since the change in this century is taking place exponentially, people are bound to change jobs, or even their profession. So, the bookish knowledge they gain in school or college alone won’t be of much relevance. What is required in the current century are life-skills like communicating effectively, listening patiently, interpersonal relations, decision making, polite disagreement, flexibility and adaptability, civic literacy, environmental literacy, health literacy and collaboration.

Education should foster the habit of thinking, questioning, assessing the situation, analyzing the situation, willing to examine and even fearlessly challenging the existing knowledge and beliefs, generating questions and finding answers to them.

Knowing that creativity emerges from inner stimulus rather than by outer demand, they are encouraged to perceive the world in new ways to find hidden patterns to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena and to generate solutions. The most powerful ways of stimulating creativity is via the process of visualization. Internal imagery frequently contains the kernel of a new, original idea. Therefore, the imagination of children must never be reined in, or else it will shrink and shrivel.

Additionally, our emphasis in the school is to quench and quicken the children’s curiosity. I think curiosity dimmed is a bright future denied. Our emphasis should be more on self-learning rather than teaching. Schools keep frightening children about exams and not securing a good job. But no real learning takes place under pressure and stress. A frightened mind deprives a student of knowledge, joy and beauty of life. Many children get alienated with this dull approach. The stimulus for learning is provided in our school, with efforts to innovate joyful learning methods. Experiential learning and a hands-on approach is encouraged. For effective learning, children are engaged in project work, self-study and discussions. We like our students to travel as much as they can. A great deal of learning takes place outside the classroom.

There is never a dull moment in the school.  Children are kept busy with various activities. As a result, they remain motivated and inspired. No child is born to crawl. They are born to glow from inside and fly. In addition to possessing intellectual prowess, they will have strong guts and sinews. Our students would be architects of their own fates; they would be captains of their ships. Therefore, they are bound to bring glory to themselves and to the country.

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