Former Director Academics, Central Board of Secondary Education
G. Balasubramanian joined the Central Board of Secondary Education as a Joint Secretary and has worked in several capacities in Academics, Examination, Confidential and Administration branches of CBSE. He has also held the additional charge of the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Board. He has been instrumental to the introduction of several innovations in curriculum of CBSE which include frontline curriculum, Communicative Approach to Language Teaching, Information Technology, Alternatives to Homework, etc.
Is teaching an art or science? Is teaching a profession or a passion? I never knew. I breathed teaching and I do so even now. I don’t know why. It gives me the joy of caring, the joy of sharing, the joy of giving and the joy of relating to a new world every day.
A couple of years ago, when I was landing from an aircraft, the pilot who was standing there looked at me curiously and said "Sir, are you Mr. G.B?" I stared at him and said "yes".
"Do you recognise me?" he continued. I did with almost a cent percent accuracy. In a brief chat I asked him "Do you enjoy flying?'
He replied "Yes. Like your classrooms." It was fulfilling.
I detested taking a text book to classrooms. "You never taught us" wrote another old student recently in his reply to my congratulatory message to his doctorate in education. He was absolutely right. I never believed in teaching. I only wanted them to learn.
To me teaching was never the transfer of wisdom from an ivory tower. It was an exercise in motivation. It was an exercise in inspiration. Developing one's personal identity with self-esteem was my only concern.
How do you facilitate the understanding of a concept? How do you relate it to some kind of practical skill and ensure relevance of its learning? How do the students relate to me in the classrooms? These were my predominant concerns.
As a teacher, I loved playing a bit of badminton and chess with my students. Quizzing was my first love. I felt most classrooms can be made to vibrate with positive energy through some simple questions that provoke thinking. The moment I entered a classroom for a substitution period, the students used to ask in chorus "Sir, Quiz!"
Preparing the students for performances, I lived the character of Shylock or Julius Ceaser. "Sir, would you like to read this poem I have written?" a student walked into the staff room. The English teacher raised her eyebrows "Do you teach chemistry or poetry?" I recall replying "The chemistry of poetry."
Tagore, Kabir and Gibran were a part of my chemistry lessons on Chemical kinetics and Periodic table… I don’t know why I did it... it just happened... I loved doing so... I felt all learning was integrated... I never wanted to kill the spirit of my students or classrooms with the fear of examinations... and yet, my classes maintained a reasonably high average in Chemistry... Thank you students!
Do I call my teaching days...Golden days? No... that is just undermining the value this beautiful life gave to me... In short, I loved teaching... because my students made me the teacher they want.
At every possible opportunity in the changed profile of my career in educational administration, I entered the classrooms... quizzed them... provoked them with challenging questions... to think differently... out of the box... Why should we condition their mind only for preparing for an examination?
Today, the classrooms are different... Thanks to global gateways to learning... there are large informal inputs to learning marginalising the formal classroom inputs... the scenario in classrooms is changing. Technology has impacted the quality and quantity of learning. Peer learning is influencing the speed and patterns of learning.
So... as a teacher... I walk to classrooms as a co-learner... To discover newer avenues of knowledge along with them… to experiment learning as a member of the learning team. I feel happy to say... "hey... I don’t know this". I see the joy radiating from the face of my student... 'Can I explain to you sir?" he asks me. "A great teacher he is..." I admire the teacher in the offering!
And so... the greatest gift this profession has given to me... it has kept me young for the last forty years! What more do you need in life?