Wisdom comes in unexpected ways. Thanks to a lot of books, I’d read, I knew this fact far earlier than I understood its true meaning.
What might be counted as mistakes, I managed to convince myself as being so obvious learning curve. So here I stand, today, not knowing if I am overlaid layers of lies on my behavior that now all I can do is a mistake again and yet not realize I have done one.
It’s time I heard it from someone I least expected from. Surprisingly it wasn’t surprising because I knew I can expect wisdom from any source, thanks to the books.
Outside my office there is a smoking zone. A vendor sells cigarettes, Gutkha and other such consumables at a far end of this side. One might refer to this place as a relaxation lounge, but open and without any seating arrangements. People come to smoke-off their stress and ‘unload’ (read talk) off-the-record.
On one fine day, it seemed like it’d rain. FitBit showed five in the evening. The combination of pleasant weather and evening time invited me to go outside and take a walk.
A colleague was with me. After a few minutes of walk we sat on the side walk itself. A cab driver in uniform was standing nearby who happen to know this colleague of mine. They started chatting. I was all ears. There followed a discussion on Central Govt. and demonetization and later state Govt. policies. Driver seemed a well-read and informed man. In our social setup one may not expect such deep understanding of these matters from a man such as himself. But this is not what made me write this matter. That happened later.
Incidentally, a group of people who were smoking nearby left cigarette stubs on the ground and started to walk away when our driver friend broke the conversation, and to everyone’s surprise, approached this group and asked them to pick the stubs and throw in the bin put along the sidewalk.
That came unexpectedly but added to the beauty of the evening; people picked what they were leaving behind and threw in dustbin with a ‘thank you’ to the driver. Evening was not lame anymore, suddenly everyone around became so attentive to what we were talking.
He returned to us with a smile; I asked him if he had done something like this before and if he had hesitated (not that I noticed any) before approaching people to correct their mistakes for some may not receive that well, especially if questioner is not what you place equal in social hierarchy (a sad truth in India). He replied, ‘Initially, people wouldn’t appreciate a driver approaching them and asking to correct their actions. I realized, after some incidents where they completely ignored me or even asked me to mind my own business or sometimes even to do their bit myself, that I had been somewhat hesitant myself since I subconsciously acknowledged that I am placed lower in society. So, I self-taught and learned, gradually, that to convince others I had be convinced myself (Leadership 101!). Hence, I threw away the prejudices & hesitation and started to speak my mind free – with authority and concern I feel I have in such situations. I believe everyone can change when you push the right button.
I have also seen that some are there who appreciate me reminding them and may be next time they will repeat what I have done if they see someone else making the same mistake they did. It’s a chain-reaction and once provoked this feeling of responsibility keeps flowing through. I believe in power of conviction and good intentions; after all this entire country is my home and whenever and wherever I will see someone damaging its beauty I will stop, approach and ask them to correct it. People will learn, slowly, eventually.’
It was time to go back to work so I smiled, thanked him and wished him ‘all the best’ to keep making a difference. He smiled back and said, ‘I should too get back to my cab for people would be looking for their driver.’
Of course, I realized that by not stopping people from doing this mistake I was making one myself. I, now, am making one less mistake and, a difference by such small contributions.
I got to know Mr. Ashok through one of his students. I am delighted that I became inspired to take him as my guest on Success Inspirer’s World. I Wonder if anyone would read this interview and not be inspired. Mr. Ashok speaks with confidence on a subject he masters.
Hello Mr. Ashok! Thank you for accepting to be a guest on this site. It is a wonderful pleasure to have this chat with you and I feel convinced that my readers will enjoy hearing from you.
I am truly privileged. Consider this; I have earned this interview on the strength of a student of mine, Apeksha. Joy is boundless. Thank you for your graciousness.
You are the head of an academic institution in India and I was attracted to you because I met this young, brilliant girl on the blogosphere, Apeksha, and got to know she is a student in your institution. I interviewed her and you must have read the interview. Tell me how you feel about this little girl and how you find her interview on this site.
This little girl Apeksha is amazing, an ideal of a student. Teachers always appreciate and feel happy about suave, intelligent, versatile and obedient students. She is one of those. May I add quickly, I am referring to teachers’ extra little liking for students such as Apeksha. Others are also recognised for their uniqueness. Her interview on the site has the making of a celebrity. It conveys to the adults how clear and how convincing young children could be, whom we always keep under estimating.
Actually, I told myself that her brilliance must be a reflection of her upbringing and especially the quality of education she is receiving. You are the head of her school, tell me about this school; why you call it an international school.
We are both on the same page on this. Her upbringing and education are important contributions. Her own choices, her ability to chose the best and make the best, the opportunities, focus and determination have also got to do a lot in her accomplishments. We at Ahlcon in our effort to impart holistic education to each child are focusing primarily on values and global perspective. Our belief is that each child has the potential to flourish which needs to be manifested. Apart from core scholastic education, our curriculum, infrastructure and pedagogy encompasses education in the art of living, reverence for life, values, life skills, sports, art, music and creativity. We adhere to international and Indian best practices in our educational delivery.
What is the vision, Mission and Core Values of your institution?
Vision, Mission and Core Values:
Vision: To establish Ahlcon International School as a world class centre of learning, a leader in imparting joyful, relevant, and value based education to each child and to ensure complete fulfillment of the aspirations of all stakeholders.
To ensure quality in our educational services through optimizing intellectual and infrastructural resources, capacity building, practicing ethical and transparent management principles and adhering to the core value system.
•Students and parents are the primary beneficiaries of our services.
•Our activities and programmes must revolve around the children and contribute to their growth and learning.
•To train and encourage Teachers to develop competence and commitment.
•Constant up gradation of school environment, characterized by love and compassion.
It certainly is not just anybody who can be the Principal of an institution like this one. Would you mind introducing yourself? Where did you study and what are you academic credentials?
Some 33 years ago I chose to work with young kids immediately after my Masters in Physics from Allahabad University, which at one stage was known as the Oxford of the East. Later I did my Masters in Education and in Management. During my long career I have worked with many prestigious organisations in India and abroad.
I was honoured to receive ‘National Award for Teacher’ (2012) by the President of India. I am currently pursuing issues such as School transformation, quality interventions, professional development of teachers, innovations in teaching-learning, technology integration, global peace and harmony and climate change.
My work and opportunities took me to countries such as USA, UK, Germany, Singapore, Malta, Sri Lanka, UAE, Thailand, Vietnam and Tanzania. I led Principals’ delegations to the University of Malta in Europe, University of Rice in Houston, USA and to the Institute of Leadership, Nottingham, UK.
The Ahlcon International School, that I head for the past 13 years, is ranked among the best Schools in Delhi-NCR and ranked on the top in East Delhi by several school surveys. Our all India ranking is also very high. It’s a lead Environmental Club School, Lead School of Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a two times recipient of International School Award by the British Council and recipient of National School Sanitation Award 2012 given by the Gov. of India. Currently I hold The Chair for National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC), a professional body of over 160 schools. What is unique about your institution? In other words, what distinguishes it from other institutions in your city?
Our emphasis on joyful, relevant, value based education, integration of technology, strong bonds between teachers and students and high parental approval are unique to us. Utmost care of the children, creating opportunities for them to develop skills and competencies to succeed in life are the mandates we fully own. We recognise that the world outside is competitive and carrying a certificate stating your marks is not enough. What will distinguish our students from the rest is the value system they have developed, their ability to fit in organisational culture, attitude, poise and creativity that they practice.
What is it that this institution can write home about? I am thinking of the achievements over the years. Who are some of the products of your institution that make you proud?
I must mention three important inspects: continuous and sustained scheme of teacher development, Celebrating their success as much as those of the students, International linkages; with Germany, UK, Australia, Denmark, association with British Council, Goethe Institute, Korean Cultural centre, Australian and American Centres and integration of technology both for educational administration and the management of teaching and learning are the endeavours worth writing home about. Our technology partners MGRM Net a US based provider has installed an application MSTAR as part of our e-government platform.
Our alumni have reached every part of the world in every walk of life, from liberal arts to science, engineering and medicine. Two of our students Aashi and Akshat represented India in Asian Rifle shooting competition held in Kuwait in Nov 2015. In the last 10 years 25 of our teachers and 200 students have travelled abroad as part of our exchange programme. It is very fascinating for me to see a parallel between the great work done by our current students and equally great achievement by those who passed out.
What is the role of education in the building of the world? I consider teachers as the real architects of the world. What do you think?
Education is the only hope and instrument to not only build the world but to bring order, peace and prosperity for all. Education alone can restore dignity to human soul and wipe out the scourge of hunger, poverty, disease and deprivations of all kind. I completely agree with you that the teachers are the architects of the world. Since the ancient times teachers, priests and the elders have been accorded that responsibility and capability to mould societies. In my view the role of teachers is paramount and they really hold the key to shape an utopian future of the world
I think that the credit for the good things of the world should go to teachers. They form all those who build the world. In the same light they should also bare a big part of the blame for the wrongs of the world. If students are educated to be excellent, they will be and will offer the best to the world and if they are educated to be mediocre, they will be and will offer mediocrity to the world. What’s your comment?
Well I see your point. But I would put it differently. It is not so much about apportioning blame or credit. It is more about all organs of the society working in cohesion to ensure good upbringing and education for the children of the world. I consider all children as assets of the world. I strongly argue that teachers should also be considered as assets by the organizations and the society. While they have to take their responsibility of nation and world building in all earnest, societies must endeavour to invest in them, their learning, upgradation and continued growth. I agree with you that teachers have lasting influence on their pupils. But the role of parents, society, polity, media cannot be discounted.
Some of those who will read this interview may be interested in studying in your school. What do they do?
We cater to a segment of population covering a radius from 0-10 km from our school. Admissions are fairly regulated by the Government and it is widely publicized.
I believe also that some of your students and teachers will read this interview. What word do you have for them?
My dear colleagues, students!, I have truthfully shared the values we stand for. On your behalf I have articulated our identity, essence and attributes. Collectively we have to live upto the expectations. Schools are agents of social change. Interestingly the change is unleashed by the teachers by producing first rate students, the future citizens. Continue to cherish this lofty goal. Gratitude, integrity and humility are the virtues students must imbibe.
It was a real joy for me to talk to you and I want to thank you for accepting to answer my questions.
Pleasure is entirely mine. I am amazed how closely resonating our thoughts are. I find in it your endorsement for good work. I find in your questions an opportunity to reflect and revisit our efforts, programmes and work with the students under our charge.
Thank you very much for creating a platform to discover people, appreciate them and encourage
them. A rare feat indeed. Congratulations for your great work.