Published: 12th June 2017
This Bengaluru-based teacher wants to make students 'Great at math'
Rukmani Ramachandran talks about the state of teachers in India
There are two ways people can change any system —one is by staying within it and the other is by staying outside it. Rukmani Ramachandran, who trains teachers in an after-school programme at Cuemath, a Bengaluru-based organisation that aims at ‘making kids great at Math’, falls into the latter category. Her teachers are capable of being strict and stand up against parents who call their children weak and complain about their poor score. “Marks are such a narrow, short-term goal,” says Rukmani, fiercely.
A lot focus is on EdTech and how it will solve a lot of problems, but the truth is that teachers are going to solve the problems, especially for the younger age group
But the 31-year-old believes that as much as we need to stop telling children that they are not smart, we must also stop telling them that they are. “We often overpraise a child for their smartness and they begin to hold high standards for themselves. It may give them confidence, but when they make a mistake, they feel dejected and presume that they are a disappointment. Rather, we must tell them that they are doing well because they are working hard,” she says, emphasising that a growth mindset is better than a fixed one.
Flash back: Rukmani did her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from University of Virginia and pulled out of completing her PhD when she decided to relocate to India to make a difference in the education sector
Rukmani acknowledges that there is a shortage of teachers. One of the reasons for this, she states, is that those who become teachers need to remind themselves that this is not a well-paying job, but a labour of love. “Unfortunately, a large section of this profession have begun to look at the lucrativeness of the job and, in the bargain, have lost the plot,” she concludes.
Rukmani, who was the national topper of the Teaching Professional's Olympiad 2016, also vouches for exams like these, "It not only focusses on what makes a good teacher, but also covers the spectrum of a teacher accreditation programme." And as she goes on to talk about other problems the teaching community faces, she stops herself, "I’m very passionate about this and if you don't stop me I'll go on and on…"