Interview by Kritika Gupta
Dr. Yasmin Ghani Khan designated as the Director of JLU School of Education, has more than 20 years of teaching experience. Her qualification includes - M.Sc. (Chem), M.Ed., Ph.D. NET (Edu.) and is currently pursuing PG Diploma in Higher Education. She has been approved for guiding Ph.D. researchers by Barkatullah University, Bhopal.
Her current involvements include National Coordinator for Teacher Education from India in European Commission, Resource Person in Curriculum designing workshops for PGDVE and B.Ed. and M.Ed. integrated programs designed by NCERT. And she is an active member of the Editorial Board of South Asia Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies. Dr. Khan has presented and published her papers at both national and international level.
Dr. Khan talks about the education sector in India
Since ages, education, whether formal or informal has been an integral part of progressive civilization irrespective of the region and culture. In our Indian belief system, educators have been equated to God, more so, some philosophers like Kabir Das put the ‘Guru’ on a pedestal higher than God. This is the glory commanded by the people who explore, learn and pass on their knowledge.
Even today, each one of us has, deep down in our hearts, at least one teacher who accepted us with all our flaws, who helped us channelize our energies, identify our potentials and understand our passions to arrive to this stage in our lives. This person made us believe and strive to be future leaders in our own capacities wherever we go and in whatever we do. Could you recall yours?
The education industry has a very wide scope – preschools or child care centres, kindergarten or preparatory schools, the main schools with 3 specific levels - primary (classes 1 to 5), middle (classes 6-8) & secondary (classes 9-10) then the senior/higher secondary referred to as junior college or +2 level and finally higher education followed by research.
The most interesting aspect is that each level employs teachers with highly specialized and distinct skills to attain specific changes in behavior – mental as well as emotional.
The industry admits its clients as raw material in early childhood (maybe 3-4 years of age usually sponsored by parents or the welfare state) processes or grooms them over a period of 15-21 years through many teachers and returns them to society as global citizens with knowledge and skills making ready for economic activity and social progress.
Leadership philosophy and style as the Director of JLU School of Education
In the past 24 years, I have been witness to a strong undercurrent and a paradigm shift in the workings of the Heads of institutions from a ‘boss’ to being a ‘team player’. Not only in the workplace but also classrooms, the dominant ‘one’ and followers ‘rest’ concept has been rejected. The greatest leaders are those who lead by example and performed along with the group.
As far as my leadership style is concerned, I am very sure that I am neither doctoral nor laissez-faire in my leadership style. At times, I am democratic, and I give my team the final say, while at other times, I am strategic and I lead from the front. I do coach them at times and enthusiastically learn from them, too.
In JLU School of Education, the success is credited to the team, and the failures are owed up without passing the blame in the true spirit of ‘learning from mistakes’. We usually don’t keep making the same mistakes, and this is because we abandon the procedure of the failed experiment and try achieving the defined target differently. We never change the goal post till we have scored on it or we are left with no worthy competitors.
Challenges faced in the journey as the Director of JLU School of Education
No success is truly worthwhile without tough challenges. In my journey, as a teacher educator, the biggest challenge has been fighting the myth that anybody who communicates well can be a good teacher. No doubt, communication is an important competency of any professional but it is not the most important or only one.
To be a good teacher, one must enjoy the company of children; one must be able to read through the child’s unspoken emotions; one must also be able to love and appreciate all children despite their differences, varied levels of achievements and sometimes irritating mischief with a firm commitment to help them improve their own performance steadily. Rita Pierson said, “Every kid needs a champion who would never give up upon him. Kids never learn from those whom they do not love”.
Today, things seem to be falling in place. The need for globally acceptable and strictly implemented teacher education programs is the talk of the time across the globe. Europeans have rethought teacher education especially in Finland. Not only is the selection process meticulous, the academics and the certification process are also very scrupulous. The responsibility and the pay scales are equally high at par with other professions.
As the Director, the biggest challenge is working on the mindset of parents and society as a whole. Everybody wants their kids to be educated by the most efficient teachers in India, but very few really motivate their children to strive for teaching as a promising career. Demographics of India show that about 65% of India is below 35 years of age. Imagine how many are in school and how many have to enter school?
Secondly, many nations are aging and will depend on India for educated and competent human resources, in the form of professional in varied fields including education, the foundation of which is laid in schools by teachers - futuristic in ideas, transformers by actions and humane by hearts. Therefore, a momentum to attract the right people to the right professions on the basis of their abilities and aspirations is needed. We have floated the campaign BECOME A TEACHER, SHAPE THE FUTURE to overcome this challenge.
Standard of the curriculum at JLU School of Education
JLU School of Education is regulated by National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). All its Teacher Education Curricula have been developed in line with the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education 2009 and is working in close collaboration with the Regional Institute of Education, Bhopal, a premier Teacher Education Institution of National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT).
We are already working with European Union Universities on the Tuning India Project coordinated by Deusto University, Bilbao, Spain for synchronizing our Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree programme on global standards. I am the National Coordinator for Teacher Education in Tuning India Project. We are implementing university for the pilot study of the programme.
Referring to execution, apart from rigorous academic inputs we provide our future teachers a lot of ‘Engagement with Field’ activities, like school visits, school attachments, field trips, school internships, experiential learning, seminars, workshops and more. Self-learning and guided peer teaching is an integral aspect of course transaction activity. Assignments and projects add on to the academic credits of specific courses.
JLU School of Education is slowly and steadily breaking free from monotonous recall based paper-pencil assessments to evidence-based authentic assessment systems for creative teaching activities.
Changes noticed in the education sector over the past few years
Change is inevitable and nobody can defy it forever. Education has changed at various dimensions. Teaching has been recognized as a full-fledged profession with a rigid selection process into its programmes followed by 4-5 years of professional instruction with integrated internships and finally certification at global, national and state levels.
Another important change being - Teachers are no longer informers who fill the child’s brain with knowledge for salvation. Teachers are highly qualified and skilled professionals with the competencies to nurture human minds into evaluating and innovating human resource for the evolution of civilized humankind.
This means they no longer JUST teach. They create situations for learners to observe, interpret and develop knowledge in social situations. To achieve this, teachers have started to rethink progressive changes in teaching methods, pedagogies, approaches in treating the learners, the technique of assessment and much more.
Constructivism is the talk of the time. Inclusion is another aspect that opens the door to the underprivileged and differently abled to interact with the privileged ones. It also breaks barriers of age for learning and learning can continue at the learners pace.
In the domain of Teacher Education also, ‘educating teachers to be humane with the will to learn all life and accepting new trends along with cherishing the cultural legacy’ has been agreed upon in the Tuning India Project.
George Lucas said, “The one way that the world hasn’t changed; teaching still remains the most important job.” Technology may replace or rather has replaced the ‘informer’ but even the idea of AI or artificial intelligence is restricted to the cognitive aspects of the human being. Needless to remark that as long as human’s dwell on the earth, human children will need human teachers to help them grow emotionally and socially across the various stages of human development. So, the best professionals in this field, equipped with the skills of being lifelong learners, problem solvers and innovators will never find themselves jobless.
Methods opted to establish a healthy relation with the students
I have been a teacher since 1994 and continue to be one. With the advancement in technology, people have been debating the need of human teachers when information is available at a click of the mouse. I am an adamant advocate of the fact that the information available is not knowledge.
Knowledge is the construct of a human mind and this construction is a result of observation and interpretation which best occurs in social settings and through communication. All the more, it’s not just the cerebral cognitive and motor skill domains that are groomed through education. The social and emotional development and well being of every human child and adult needs is also the teacher’s duty.
The designation of Director, JLU School of Education bestows upon me the responsibility to make these emotional connects work more effectively. I am usually available to my students in office hours or on the Whatsapp.
Goals for JLU School of Education in the next few years
The school is currently 3 years old. In the next 5 years, I see JLU School of Education among the premier Teacher Education Institutions of India with some internationally renowned graduation programmes. As mentioned before, the Teacher Education Institute is already in the process of going global.
In 10 years, JLU School of Education will be an epitome for research in School Education and Teacher Education. Teachers educated from this institution will be competent on global norms for the profession.
Suggestions to the youth and aspiring students
I feel that school and college days are the days when we make joyful memories. These are the least stressful days in human life. Therefore, you should utilize these days to the fullest in identifying your interests, aspirations and abilities to be able to draw a ‘realistic’ picture of the positions, you aspire to attain in 5, 10 and 15 years from ‘now’. You should also have a ‘doable’ roadmap to work for reaching there with a burning desire to work hard to achieve the set goals.
I have observed that most students in this age do not realize the difference between a ‘wish’ and an ‘aspiration‘. You have to work hard for the second. However talented one maybe, the role of passion and hard work cannot be nullified.
Norman Schwarzkopf remarked, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war”. This quote has been adopted by the most prestigious institutions as a motto to stay prepared for the unpredictable variations that destiny has in its Pandora’s Box. The task of a teacher is to help the student become a lifelong learner while it is the student’s and finally the professional’s responsibility to stay informed and updated about the latest trends in the field of job chosen. The professional should also be able to adapt to situations and adopt the latest ideas after critical reviews and restrain from following the herd blindly.