Quest For Knowledge – A Paradox

paradoxStrange are the ways of life. As a kid, I was never a good student. School petrified me, and formal education was something that I detested. I am talking about those days when corporal punishment in schools was rampant. Teachers used to consider it their right, and parents also accepted it as something very normal. If the child did not toe the line, or needed to be disciplined, then corporal punishment was called for. These were the days before the word counseling gained popularity, and schools were forced to shed the old ways.

Not being a particularly bright student, I found myself frequently on the receiving end. I still feel the sting of the slaps sometimes. I had a maths teacher in my early years, who took it upon himself to “sort me out”, as they say. Those were not the days when one could rebel against teachers – our upbringing just did not allow it, no matter how harsh or unjustified the punishment was. The net result of this was that it put me off maths, AND studies in general, for life. And it put me off the idea of school. I was one of those rare few who hated their school. I just could not wait to get out of there, and once I did get out, I have never gone back there. Not even once. Not even for a visit. I do occasionally attend get-togethers organised by classmates, but I have never gone back to any event organised by the school. Never.

Immediately after school was over, I decided that I would not go in for further studies, and would start working, and so began the quest for a job, which I found very soon, as an apprentice steward in a prominent five-star hotel in the city. I preferred waiting at tables, learning to be a bartender, and other general jobs of the hotel industry, to joining an educational institution and study again. I would probably have been a dropout, had it not been for my sister, who insisted that I at least enroll in a distance learning programme, and even went and completed all the admission formalities on my behalf. And so, I became a reluctant student – pursuing my Bachelor of Commerce degree from Delhi University simply for the sake of getting the piece of paper called a Degree, which was supposed to magically open doors of a bright career for me.

Connecting the dots in hindsight, I can now see that without that degree I would never have gone ahead to join the airline industry, where I got the opportunity to further enhance my knowledge by being nominated for several company sponsored courses, and the funny thing was, I excelled at whichever course I undertook. And as luck would have it, this reluctant graduate went on to head an airline several years later, for more than a decade before more twists and turns of fate changed the course of his life.

The Paradox

As I said in the beginning, strange are the ways of life. This reluctant student, who had shied away from the word education, was suddenly in the field of education. The journey to becoming a trainer began with the airline industry and continued beyond that. I got so involved in this field that I even acquired a specialization in training & development. The quest for knowledge, which had almost died in my school years, suddenly revived, and I found myself hungry for more. I was hooked. Correction – I still am hooked. The best hours of my life are those that I spend in the training rooms and class-rooms. As a visiting faculty with some educational institutes, interacting frequently with youngsters who are the age of my own kids, I am now catching up with the college life that I never had, and loving every minute of it. It is said that there are valuable lessons to be learned from every adversity, and I learnt mine well – I do not make the same mistakes with my students that my teachers made with me, and I am happy in the knowledge that I have managed to get along well with most of my trainees and students – hopefully ! šŸ™‚

So keen is my desire to go further in the field of education, that I am now continuously looking for ways to enhance my skills in this area. Thanks to the internet, and my insatiable quest for information, over the years I have become a computer expert, and quite comfortable in the online world. Hence it was but natural for me to develop an keen interest in online learning. And then I stumbled upon Coursera and found a treasure house of knowledge – all for free. I am happy to say that I am now enrolled in half a dozen of their courses, AND looking forward to completing all of them, because each one of them will bring me a step closer to mastering the world of online education – and that’s where I intend to be spending most of my future, apart from my current assignment in the travel & tourism industry.

Not many people know this story, and many in my circles would probably be surprised. The most surprised would perhaps be those who knew me as a kid, because they are the ones who knew how much I hated studying. Even some of my relatives, including my sisters, still cannot get over the fact that not only am I in the field of education now, but I am also continuing to study further at this age. In fact it has become a standing joke in the family now. The guy who hated education so much is now deeply involved with it.

Who knows where the journey of life will eventually take me, but I am happy with the way things have turned out. perhaps I have found my niche in this paradoxical turn of events. And I’m looking forward to it.

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  1. Pradeep Khare

    This biographical sketch of yours is really motivating for a lot of people who were not fortunate enough to have good teachers.It is also an eyeopener for teachers who have a lot to learn.Kudos Sir,for reinventing your self!

  2. My mother hated her school life too, and today she is a teacher herself. She often jokes that she is repenting for not having studied in school! I am sure your students must enjoy your training sessions. I know I learned a lot from the short interaction we had a few months back.

  3. Really an interesting article. It’s something those in the teaching profession should read.

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