M.S. Ananth, former director of IIT Madras and visiting professor of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) Bangalore, on Monday offered some valuable lessons in education to students and teachers of Bhavan’s Varuna Vidyalaya, Kochi.

Speaking at ‘Merit Day-2012’ organised by the school to felicitate its meritorious students at Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), Thrikkakara, Mr. Ananth asked students to give a free rein to their brain as intuition formed an integral part of learning. “Self-confidence is built on confirmation of intuition through logical calculation,” he said, showing the link between learning and creativity.

In his inspiring talk centred upon Indian concepts of education, Mr. Ananth said examinations were orthogonal to education and learning. In fact, teachers feared examinations more because if students fared badly in exams, it would reflect poorly on their teaching, he said in a lighter vein. “Students should compete with themselves, as it is healthier. All other forms of competition lead to jealousy,” he said.

Comparing the house of education to that of an old monument, a ‘beautiful never-ending structure’ with perfect rooms and rooms that were under constant modification, he said, quoting Aurobindo, that teacher should be a facilitator of learning. “Instead of covering portions, he/she should try to uncover a part of it… The approach to a problem should be diverse. Similarly, the teacher should go from near to far, meaning the instances cited should be from a milieu familiar to students,” he said.

Mr. Ananth cited character building, knowledge acquisition and application of acquired knowledge as the three goals of education, asking educational institutions to inculcate strength of character in students.

Later, he gave away prizes to students of the Varuna Vidyalaya who fared well in competitive examinations. NPOL director S. Ananthanarayanan, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan director E. Raman Kutty, NPOL associate director A. Unnikrishnan, and senior scientist and chairman of school management committee K.V. Rajasekharan Nair spoke.

IIT screening

On the sidelines of the Varuna Vidyalaya Merit Day, Mr. Ananth told The Hindu that the Damodar Acharya committee in which he was a member had recommended a combination of “normalised board exam scores and scores of an aptitude test followed by a joint screening test” for down-selection of candidates for admission to the prestigious IITs. The recommendations of the committee, constituted to review the Joint Entrance Examination for IITs, had received mixed response from the academia, he said.

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