Chandra Bhatia has worked tirelessly to promote human rights in her native India, but she knows that her efforts will only be successful through the empowerment of each and every child. Bhatia, a 2010 regional winner of the Microsoft Teacher Leadership Award, has been widely recognized in India for her work, which is based on her belief that education is a fundamental right. We asked Bhatia her thoughts on the critical role of education in building civilized societies.
If you could change one thing about today’s “system” of education, what would it be?
Commercialization and privatization of education should be challenged. Education is not for sale. Every section of the society must receive equal opportunities for education, as I believe education is a fundamental right.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
Use of ICT in education has facilitated innovation in education to a great extent. Every educator must explore these avenues. The 21st century skills are primarily concerned with preparing a larger percentage of students for emerging job clusters and this should be prioritized.
Can you describe the teacher who most influenced you?
My English language teacher – her vocabulary and correct use of words, along with personal qualities – attracted me. But I also strongly believe that “life” itself is the best teacher – and life teaches us infinite lessons.
How can other educators facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned?
Each day should be a learning experience for us. My mantra is: learn quickly when facing new problems, analyze both successes and failures, then try finding solutions. And enjoy the challenge of unfamiliar tasks!
What advice would you give a new teacher?
There is never a bad or good student. There is always a bad or good teacher.
Good teachers have always helped students discover the value and relevance of new skills and knowledge, because children now live in a world of almost unlimited streams of trivial and profound information, of enormous opportunity and difficult choices. Helping students make vital practical, emotional and social connections to skills and content is more important than ever. Teaching is the most satisfying profession in the world!
What is your greatest hope for the future of education?
I firmly believe that lifelong learning takes time and commitment, and that educators must use that time to pursue best practices. Quality in education is what makes learning a pleasure and a joy. Schools must inquire deeper into their own practices, explore new ways to motivate their learners, make use of learning styles, introduce multiple intelligences, integrate learning, and teach thinking, and in the process discover the passion and moral purpose that makes teaching exciting. Confucius rightly said: “If your plan is for one year, plant rice; If your plan is for ten years, plant trees; If your plan is for a hundred years, Educate children.”
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About Chandra Prabha Bhatia
Chandra Prabha Bhatia has been teaching social science for over 23 years and, in 2008, received the National Award for Teachers, presented by India’s President, in recognition for her valuable services to the community as a teacher of outstanding merit. Bhatia is active in promoting the rights of women and children, and leads human rights and life skills workshops.
Current residence: Kolkata, India
Education: M.A., B.Ed, Diploma in Human Rights
Websites I check every day: Partners in Learning and Facebook
Person who inspires me most: Professor Amartya Sen. His book The Argumentative Indian is a piece of sheer brilliance, a must-have.
Favorite childhood memory: When I received my first merit card for English.
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Europe
Favorite book: The Monk who Sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma. The book is an inspiring tale that provides a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance and joy.