CHENNAI: CAN an android and a smart board ever replace a great teacher in the classroom of tomorrow? Absolutely not. That’s what speakers at the gala TNIE EdEx 40 Under Forty Awards event held at Feathers on Saturday night all agreed on.
Chief guest for the evening, Supreme Court Judge Justice J Chelameswar spoke about his own teachers and the way they inspired a sense of respect in him. “The concept of a teacher as a guru is something that all of us need to understand deeply,” he said, explaining how his gurus over the years had shaped his life and approach to his profession. He also added that students needed to develop a sense of respect for teachers, something that they were not doing very well currently, as they were being misled by things that they see in movies.
Noted speakers and luminaries took part in a panel discussion to debate the relevance of teachers in an increasingly data-driven classroom – a centrepiece that was bookended by the awards presented to 40 great young teachers from across South India. They have been curated and brought down by TNIE, all of them had been featured in the anniversary edition of EdEx. The event was sponsored by Hindustan University and was supported by Cambridge English Language Assessment, Chennai Live 104.8 FM, Kalam Centre, Scholarink.com and Feathers.
While Srijan Pal Singh, CEO, Kalam Centre, pushed for an increasing need to use technology to increase the reach of education and teachers, actor and educationist Gautami stuck to her guns – driving home the point that “technology can merely be a last-mile connector, an enabler, but it can never be a teacher.”
The panel was moderated by Dr J S Rajkumar, Lifeline Hospitals who kept the tone and temper light and breezy, reflecting on how his teaching experiences have been enhanced by the use of technology.
“I remember how I recently went for a lecture and I was told some 5000 people were supposed to be there. I was surprised when I walked to find that only some 300 people were around. When I asked them, they showed me the analytics and I was surprised to find that almost 9000 people were tuned in from across the campus. Activist S P Udayakumar responded to a question whether education would ever be provided for free in India by saying that it was a shame that we were still asking this question after 70 years of Independence.
T K Arunachalam, Cambridge English Language Assessment, stoked another feisty debate by saying that English needed to be mastered as a skill and need not be the medium of instruction – a fact that was supported by recent studies that they had conducted.