Through the eyes of a teacher - The New Indian Express

Through the eyes of a teacher

Published: 30th September 2013 12:00 AM

Last Updated: 29th September 2013 11:19 PM

A Bengali having made Kozhikode his base, Debashis Chatterjee, director of IIM-Kozhikode, has found comfort in fish and football, two traits the two states share.


In his latest, The Class Act — Notes from the Diary of a Teacher, Prof Chatterjee talks about teachers who he has met over the years and those who have influenced him. Surprisingly, he doesn’t always talk of people who we traditionally acknowledge as teachers — people in cotton garb, spouting stern bespectacled faces et al. Be it his student Manjunath who gave up his life to the oil mafia or Claudia, a glamorous tourist he met in Columbia, his anecdotes are peppered with interesting messages. Excerpts from an interview:


Why do you feel some of our teachers are cynical about the teaching profession.

Our society has benchmarked money and material as parameters for a successful person. Some of our school teachers make even less money than a plumber. Teachers need to be supported by communities in order to have a better impact of their profession in the society.


One common grouse we hear is that our teachers are not in learning mode.

I am a product of great teachers who didn’t work for money. Everywhere there are exceptional teachers who constantly reinvent themselves and exceptions who teach the same thing over and again. Great teachers will always have a never-ending thirst for knowledge. In my book, I have talked about a professor who tears up the notes once he is done with them for fear of not learning new things. There are enough lessons to be learnt from this example.


What did you learn from Manjunath, one of your students?

Manjunath was from the 2003 batch. He was a supervisor of petrol and diesel filling stations of Indian Oil Corporation. He gave up his life because he dared to question oil mafia selling adulterated fuel. The day Manjunath stood up for something he believed in and even paid the price for his honest deeds with his own life, frankly our roles were reversed and he became my teacher.

More roles his teachers played can be found in his book.


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