When Terrence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons) throws a chair at Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller) in the movie ‘Whiplash’, it made me wonder how extreme can be a relationship between teacher and student. In the movie, Neiman is abused, berated and broken down so that he can rise again in the end like a phoenix. But that was real-world not real, maybe. However, the world can be far better. Take Anand Kumar for example. He is a mathematician and had started the Super-30 program under his own Ramanujam School of Mathematics in Patna, Bihar under which he gives coaching, lodging, and food to economically backward students who prepare for the IIT-JEE entrance exams.
Only one name comes to my mind when I hear the word education – Sir Ken Robinson. Born to a working-class family and being one of the seven children Kenneth (Ken) Robinson is an internationally acclaimed author and an advisor on education. He received his knighthood for his services in the field of arts. His books ‘Out of our Minds – Learning to be creative’ and ‘The Element – How finding your passion changes everything’ are among my favorite books on education which also includes the ones like ‘Krishnamurti on Education’ by Jiddu Krishnamurti. His Ted Talk about ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ has been viewed more than 13 million times on YouTube alone. He advocates individuality over conformity, diversity over standardization and curiosity over compliance. He is a critic of “command and control” climate in the current education environment and wants the schools worldwide to be more empathic towards the students.
The other person who has influenced me a lot is Salman (Sal) Amin Khan, the educator and founder of Khan Academy which is a free online education platform teaching subjects ranging from mathematics to history. Khan Academy has more than 3 million subscribers. His videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times. He was included in the list of ‘100 most influential people’ by Time magazine in the world for the year 2012. Even Forbes magazine put him on their cover. Khan Academy today offers content made my specialist faculties in an engaging way through 8 different languages other than English. It also provides online courses for tests like SAT and MCAT. Khan Academy is now a worldwide name which was mentioned by likes of Bill Gates.
The education and the teacher-student relationship is today a function of technology and innovation. And the way it is changing, education systems of tomorrow will not even require physical classrooms. A YouTube channel ‘CrashCourse’ is another favorite. It hosts people like John Green (writer of ‘The Fault in our Stars’) and his brother Hank Green and presents their videos in an entertaining manner. The channel has more than 6 million subscribers and teaches subjects ranging from US History to Astronomy. They have made education fun for all.
The reality is that I have never seen them or met them personally but have learned something of importance from them and still they are my teachers and I am their student. Their lessons were a cinch to use and their words were gold. Reflecting, I think in this age of digital revolution, the students have the choice of choosing their teachers compared to 2000 years ago when the teachers were selecting the students to teach. But still, the choice will decide what we will learn.
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