"If not we, then who?"
Dr. NIRMALA KRISHNAN is the Head of the Institute, Mahindra World School, since 2009. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy, Bachelor’s degree in Education (B.Ed.), M.Phil in English Literature and Post-Graduation in Guidance and Counseling. Her PhD research work was on Shared Values, Dialogue and Education as means for Warless World. She is the recipient of numerous awards that include National Award for Education and Innovative Idea award and Fellowship in Innovation in Education. Through her programme, ‘I am a responsible girl’, she has touched the lives of as many as 32000 girls from all over India.
1.As a National Award Winning Principal, what do you think has helped you reach where you are, today?
Few things that form the core in me are, the zeal to see every child happy, my belief that each child is differently talented and has potential to achieve his/her dream, and that human resources, if tapped rightly, can enable achievement of any goal. These have helped me a lot.
2.What according to you are the important values a school should impart to its students?
We, at Mahindra World School (MWS), have four ethos – Respect for myself and others, excellence in everything we do, integrity as a way of life and innovation as a habit. These are few important values that should be imparted.
3.‘A school that does not have or use a school bell’, is something unheard of. How does it work?
Do we need a bell to ring every time we have to do some work? I don’t think so! Self-discipline is the approach. We have installed clocks in every class, synchronized with the one at the school reception. For the younger ones, we use digital clock till they start reading time.
4.‘No invigilators for examinations!’, is non-existent. How did this idea come about? How does it work?
Do we always need someone to monitor us? We have identified integrity as the 21st century employability skill. The best way to imbibe this, is through self-discipline.
The initiation process involved orienting teachers, students and parents. Presentations were made by the students in the morning assembly, on need for invigilator free exams. Lengthy discussions were held during circle time, on being accountable. There was consistent communication through posters created by students. Announcements were made before the assessments, to remind everyone of the discussions. Now, after 6 years, it’s an effortless practice. During exams, after the question papers are distributed, the faculty sits outside the classroom for any assistance. Students complete their assessment and walk out.
5.Students in your school undergo fire drill, earthquake drill and terror attack drill. Why do you believe it is important? Would you advocate this in other schools?
Why do we invest on medical and life insurance policies? Why do we wear seat belts and helmets? All these are for safety and security. These drills create awareness in students about the real life threats. It prepares them to face similar situation anywhere they are. It is lifelong learning.
Our Microsoft Students Ambassadors Shobitha & Rohan have also developed an app to inform citizens in the neighborhood about such emergencies, by sending alert messages. Every school should proactively engage their students and staff to save lives and property, in case of such situations.
6.Your school has set a benchmark in cleanliness and has also received the National Award for Sanitation, in 2012. Mahindra World School is also the first school in India to introduce clean restrooms within the classrooms. How did your school involve itself in such an initiative?
MWS campus is designed as green campus in terms of ambience. Sustaining this ambiance is the responsibility of every child at school. An elaborate training program for students and faculty, to create a culture of cleanliness and responsibility, is conducted during circle time and morning assembly. Marches around school, engagement in nearby villages and other activities have led to students owning the school’s cleanliness as their pride.
7.Your school uses kindle in the library. How important and impactful do you think technology is, in the current generation?
Technology is inevitable. How we use technology to enhance joy of learning, keeping at bay the risk of gratuitous exposure, is a challenge.
Kindle has a focused approach in developing reading habit. The books sought by students are downloaded for them to read.
8.Mahindra World School is a school that’s truly ahead and pragmatic in its views. What inspires you and your team to have such perspectives and implement such initiatives in the school?
'A cart fallen ahead is warning for the one behind’. Pragmatic views evolve from a desire to learn. The current scenario in the neighbourhood and across the world is disturbing. We as educators, who spend valuable time with students, should maximize the pragmatic attitude in them.
9.What is your message for all the teachers and educators out there?
We educators should always keep the three point approach in mind. One on one dialogue, shared values and veracious education will ensure that our responsibility as an educator is realized. Saying this, my simple message is, ‘Now is the time. If not we then who? Let us not lament later for what we could have done today.’ Whatever may be the reality of life today, if each educator decides to embark on a mission to empower every student, the vision of warless world is possible.