A close-cropped, lean figure clad in a sober coloured shirt is a common sight in St Joseph’s College (SJC), Bangalore. Besides this, what makes Cheriyan Alexander a popular professor on campus is a pleasant gentlemanly smile on his face. More than three decades of teaching has done nothing to diminish his enthusiasm, he says. “Teaching is something I will never get bored of.” “Some of the teachers of my time like Father Julian Fernandez managed to make the most ordinary subjects interesting, and this was something that made me want to be like him,” he says.
Prof Alexander, who has been teaching at SJC for 33 years, is the head of department for English. Teachers in his time would use the most extraordinary and creative techniques to lighten up subjects. “This would make us pay attention and inspired me to hold a class spellbound like they did.” As a student of life and literature, he draws from both classical and current sources, to illustrate his teaching.
Known to be a ‘walking encyclopedia’, it is easy for him to lure his students with interesting facts till he gets their undivided attention. Born and raised in Bangalore, he studied in St Joseph’s School and later went on to graduate from SJC in Science. He then pursued a diploma in Medical Microbiology in Vellore after which, in 1982, he completed a Master’s Degree in English at Bangalore University. His areas of interest are American and Eastern European Literature, Literature and Philosophy, Literature and Religion, and Literature and Science. He is also allowed ample freedom to introduce innovative teaching methods. Maintaining discipline in class was a huge challenge for him as a teacher. But he has always kept an open communication channel with his students. He believes their company has kept him “forever young.”