Must start with confessing to the dilemma that I faced more than a decade and half ago, on retirement from LIC. What post-retirement career do I opt for?
By instinct, I preferred a second career in advertising and public relations. I dabbled in my first choice for about a year and half and had to abandon this option because of extreme volatility in the market.
The alternative was teaching. Glad to acknowledge that my second choice turned out to be a lucky one for me in terms of job satisfaction.
Even though I had been a trainer of sorts in my company, full-fledged teaching was a different kettle of fish. Was not too sure that the students would accept me as a teacher.
I still remember my first class of life insurance underwriting with the PGDM-IBM Batch in the year 2003. I had gone fully prepared with notes for myself and handouts for students. As I had worked as a life underwriter for about five years in my first posting with LIC, I had an unexpectedly good time, possibly because the students might have felt that I was talking sense.
I have been lucky that this happy experience has continued for the last decade and a half. Over the years, I was delighted to find that our insurance students have been doing exceedingly well in all fields whatever the handicaps they had in terms of linguistic skills, lack of industry experience, etc.
Full credit to the students for rising up to the occasion each time, for, they have been at the forefront in the Institute whether in terms of extra-curricular activities, placements, social service initiatives, etc. The teachers, of course, have been acting as the catalysts.
Over the years, I have been able to detect a broad pattern among the student population. This is a kind of impressionist grouping.
The first category are the “eager beavers”. Form the very first day you can detect them in the class room making themselves handy for the teacher to arrange the attendance register, markers, drinking water etc. entirely unsolicited. They are self-motivated and driven. By and large, they are able to sustain their enthusiasm throughout. They may not necessarily emerge as toppers but they are the boys and girls to go to in times of emergency. They end up with good placements and make excellent company men or women and emerge as BIMTECH’s ambassadors in the industry.
The second group can be called the “surprise packages”. These students emerge as stars in due time and establish their academic supremacy sooner or later. They may not be the best team players but bring glory to the institute by winning competitions and contests. However, they may not be the first in the placement stakes, as recruiters have their own criteria.
The third group, are the “aam admi” of the class, the hardy lot, who would survive and somehow make it to the companies. Some, among them, move on to the first or second category eventually. This happens because of the transformation that they undergo in their summer internship, during which time they realise their own potential and rise up.
Few takeaways from my stint as a teacher over the past decade and half:
- A good teacher needs to be a lifelong student, who is open to the use of technology in class.
- In this day and age, the students armed with their Google know more than teachers.
- It’s always about you, the teacher and your commitment and not about them, the students. You will, ultimately, get the students you deserve!
- Respect begets respect.
- Students can surprise you by their brilliance in the most unexpected ways.
- Cut some slack to your students and permit them to make mistakes from which they will learn.
- If you keep in touch, even after they leave the campus, they will reciprocate from their corporate world, which will benefit the institute.
In the end, I would like to commend the following quote from Kurt Vonnegut, the famous American writer:
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Prof. KK Krishnan