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Ramachandran Ananthakrishnan
Ramachandran Ananthakrishnan

Ramachandran Ananthakrishnan



Unique way of teaching
It is a safe bet that more than 70% of the teaching fraternity as of today are nor comfortable in using computer as a teaching aide in the class room. Even the majority of 30% who claim to use power-point presentations in the class room are in the habit of reading from the slides. Most of them are using computers and internet for copy pasting and nothing more. Today's children are more computer savvy and much more adaptable to the internet and other information sharing devices. So the faculty members should learn to discuss the facilities available and also the digital libraries across the world that are open to the learners irrespective caste or creed or religion. The developing countries like India should concentrate on providing much more stable internet speed and downloading facilities so that our students can make the best use of resources available elsewhere. There must be periodical workshops conducted for the benefit of the teaching community in every Institute.
My inspiring personality
All my teachers who taught me while i was in school (1956 - 62) were certainly qualified to be role models. In those years, they never had access to such rich content and variety of text books. They were also lacking in resources and certainly cash starved. Yet, they had taken such personal interest in the well-being of their wards and had given their best so we can stand up and face the world as we are doing right now. Today's teachers have the access to all these things at their finger tips but many of the fellow teachers blame the students and a lame excuse that many of the students are not interested in studies. Any one who is able to inculcate a habit of self-study and ask thought provoking questions and students must feel they have a greater role in class room study is my Role Model.My role Model is Dr.V.S.Huzur Bazar (H.O.D, Dept of statistics, University of Pune -1972) from whom I learnt the art of teaching mathematics without using the blackboard. I do it for the last 40 years
Most Rewarding Moment
I was teaching in a Science college affiliated to the Madras University and I.I.I Madras had announced an inter-collegiate competition for the students of mathematics from Tamilnadu. One of my students came to me asking for suggestions and I told her at that time, I would give her a topic and if she could find out the answer and present a solution to that, she would get the top prize. At that time, the internet and other cross-reference facilities were not available. The question was to develop an algorithm for multiplying two three dimensional matrices. Students are taught multiplication of two dimensional matrices in the class. She was able to think out a solution and with very little help from any of us, she was able to present the algorithm and won the second prize from among the 120 odd entries at the competition. This encouraged our students in succeeding years and for the next 7 years when I was the H.O.D of maths, our students were winning prizes and got admission to IIT also.
Future of Indian Education System
more and more digitization of educational media - internet to play a vital role in the spread of education - less dependence on class room lectures and online tests - better and faster delivery - old form of lectures to give way to slide shows and multimedia presentation - simultaneous translation of lecture notes and study material in different languages - better demonstration through simulation and animation of principles and ideas that were difficult to explain visually till today - handheld devices to capture entire class room activities and exchange of similar ideas through global network sitting inside a class room - lecture on the same topic by different faculty to facilitate instant comparison - lessening the burden of carrying bulk books - less paper and pen work - however not all these changes are for the better - increased dependence on mechanized sources also take out the joy of learning - especially at the lower level.
Important Lesson
One incident that affected me most. A student whom we had taught for 3 years, on the last day bade farewell and on reaching home, jumped in the well and committed suicide. From then on, I made it a point to understand the problems of the students and in my brief career, I have saved 8 lives. There was a student who was considered a rowdy element and detested by all teachers including me. Finally he was rusticated and many felt that I was instrumental for that. The boy was waiting to beat me up, I was told. So i went to him asked him what made him do such things. he looked at me straight in the face and asked me ' if you teachers look at me as a rowdy, how else can I behave?'. The truth in his question really stung me and brought about a change in me. I did help him to continue his education and today, he is a lawyer. The lesson learnt is that, we teachers make such serious mistakes without even realizing it. Every teacher must take an oath not to prejudge a student for any reason.
Outlook about way to raise quality education
Earlier, a good majority of students were denied the opportunity to choose their own line because of the reservation policy. Now, with the opening of private colleges and universities, the students have greater freedom in choosing their line. However, granting permission to open any number of colleges without bothering about the need, has resulted in a lop-sided situation. Now, everybody wants his son / daughter to be an engineer or a doctor. Not many are opting for basic science courses such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry etc and even English. Thus there is an acute shortage of qualified faculty to teach these subjects and many Institutes are using B.Tech and M.Tech people to teach basic science subjects. this certainly contributes to undermining the quality of education and god knows what will happen after 10 years. This must be reversed.
Favorite Non-Academic books
I read books by Antony Robbins, Robin Sharma, and watch video presentations on motivation, personality development etc. This has helped me in understanding my students better and counsel them where necessary. While discussing the power of positive thinking in one of my classes, I was talking about Norman Vincent Peale. He talks about his teacher who would first write ' I cant do anything' and make the students repeat that loudly again and again. Suddenly he would go to the board and erase the 't' and it would read ' I can do any thing'. A girl surprised me by asking for the 't' to erase when it comes to doing problems in mathematics so she can score high marks. It was so sudden and left me stunned but luckily I could recover and say the 't' stands for time. From then on, I started insisting that my students note down the exact time it took for solving each question and those who did it sincerely started scoring high marks, The trick was, they started knowing the exact time needed.
About Me
I did my M.Sc with Statistics in 1968 and did my M.Phil in 1987. I started teaching from 1969 and continue teaching till date. I have the habit of asking provocative questions and make the students find an answer by themselves and I always give natural examples while teaching a subject. This has helped me avoid using the board though I teach Mathematics related subjects. I am presently coming out with my own digital books that can be read by students using handheld devices also. Some of my digital books can be accessed at my website for a limited time. Other details about me can be obtained there including my video resume for a limited time. I am interested in reaching more students and Institutions with my digital books and I welcome help from all quarters to this idea. Others, interested in coming out with their own digital books, I can help and we can create a successful market from such a joint effort. Silicon India can help me with tips.
My Advice
1. never prejudge your student.
2. learn to appreciate your students. A student of mine, helped me understand the virtue of appreciation. He was a student who had failed in a majority of subjects before coming to the third year. In one of the motivational class that I was regularly conducting, he came on stage to say that a teacher who loves his students like a mother and disciplines his students like a father will be treated with reverence like a god. He was trying to explain the statement 'Matha, Pitha and Lord' in Tamil. Though he spoke for just one minute, the applause he received from his class mates was perhaps the first time he had been appreciated and he cleared all his back papers in the next attempt and completed the course. So, appreciation can work wonders ( if it is genuine ).
3. If you have to scold a student, do it in private and not in the presence of others.
Outlook about increase students’ participation
There is a systematic undermining of values in every field. Day in and day out, news channels talk about corruption, rape and the ills of society and the good things that happen are hardly noticed or highlighted. So, there is a need to include value education as part of our curriculum and the teaching fraternity should be a pillar of strength in building up this society of the future. The least that we can do is not err by example. Curriculum should not be just a marking system that encourages memorizing and recalling. genuine projects must be made part of the curriculum. My friend was telling me that his grand-daughter, a student of class III in U.S was given an assignment on pollution and she collected data on Pollution by leaving cardboards with fevicol at different places in the township and went about collecting the pollution data for a week and later presented an analysis. if a student of III std can do it there, why not our engineering graduates do it here.
My priorities
I am used to staying awake late hours at night and hence, I have enough time to think and organize my teaching materials. Since I am prone to asking questions and one question always leads to another question ( from the answer provided ) , i think of simple examples to explain the concepts and hence I have not felt the rush of time so far. This is what I learned from my Role Model ( Dr. V.S.Huzur Bazar of the university of Pune) way back in 1972.
Strongest Subject
My strongest subject is Probability and Random Variables and Operations Research. Probability is such a topic for which you can always give examples from real life and what is happening around us. It is also a subject where you can ask different questions and force the students to think differently. So I enjoy teaching Probability. Random variables is just an extension of probability. Operations Research is also known as the science of decision making and it gives insight to decision making. These subjects have helped me in counseling my students better and hence I chose them as my strongest subjects
Way to motivate Students
In my first class, wherever I go, I give this assignment to the students. They have to assume that all their prayers have been granted and under that assumption, they have to visualize what they are 15 years hence and mentally be there and prepare a visiting card as if they are there. A majority of students fail to do this, the first time and with help, they start thinking and prepare the visiting card. Many of them are clumsy but there are always a few who are very clear. Taking their example, I ask others to revisit and I always find an improvement. Then I ask them to write in brief, to be there after 15 years, where they must be after 10 years. This is followed up with ' where they must be in 5 years', then in 3 years, in 2 years and in 1 year and where they are now. This kind of a discussion helps me to understand the students by reading what they have written. It gives me a handle if they go off. This has helped me in saving atleast 8 precious lives
Family Background
Born in a family of 6 brothers and 2 sisters. My mother a 3rd standard passed,took a vow that all her children would be graduates. My father served the Southern Railway as an Auditor and sacrificed a lot in bringing us up. He would always insist that we should never use the word ' I beg to submit' in anything we wrote and that we must be self-sufficient. Two of my brothers rose to the level of Managing Directors of companies (with just a B.Sc and B.Com degree)and I came into teaching. My wife is a P.G in Economics and never went for work. I have a daughter doing her B.A in English Literature. My maternal Uncle was chief secretary of Kerala and generally all the members of my family are well educated and had worked in top positions. I had helped my wife establish a data processing agency in 1983, and we were successful in having Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Southern Railway as our clients during the period 1983 to 2003. My daughter has started contributing her own blogs already
Most Challenges facing by students
The challenges are many. They see knowledge explosion around them but a majority of teachers are unable to guide them properly because they are adequately equipped. Compared to our days, the distractions are also many and so they want a short cut to every thing. But unfortunately, there is no short cut to real learning and this is the biggest challenge they have to overcome. The teachers must be properly equipped and motivated to help them succeed and this is also lacking in the society. In our days, there was hardly 5% of students getting 80 plus but today, there is hardly 10% who do not get 80 plus in the exams. There is peer pressure and further compounded by the the single child syndrome in many families. With both parents working or busy in their own way with different social activities, the students do not have outlets to destress themselves. Thus, they have challenges in different forms to overcome.
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