Bringing new-age Teaching methods to Heritage Institution

Dr. (Mrs.) Madhu Kohli, Director – South Point School, Kolkata  followed the footsteps of her father who nurtured her instincts in the field of education. She is an alumni of St. Paul’s School, M. G. College, Kanpur and Kanpur University

Dr. (Mrs.) Madhu Kohli started her career in teaching in 1968 as a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at AND Post-Graduate College, Kanpur, India. After migrating to Kolkata, India, in 1976, she joined Balika Shiksha Sadan, a girls’ Higher Secondary school, as Principal and Rector.

With her encouragement, major changes in teaching methodology and evaluation patterns were initiated in the institution. Students were encouraged to engage actively in a range of extra-curricular activities besides academics so that they could achieve an all-round development of their personality. The happy outcome of their efforts was felt in the School bagging a number of awards in many fields.

Dr. (Mrs.) Madhu Kohli also pursued her Ph.D in the field of educational psychology and her thesis was on ways to improve and catalyse the learning process with the help of audio-visual aids.  “My passion is to make students focused, ambitious, caring, confident and courageous. My priority in life has always been my work and I truly believe that work is worship. I am passionate about what I do and enjoy exploring all avenues at work every day” she says.

In January, 1995, she joined South Point School, Kolkata, as Academic Advisor and became the Principal in June, 1997. She is still engaged as the Director of South Point School and Secretary and Manager of South Point High School.

Team ABT reached out to Dr. (Mrs.) Madhu Kohli to know more about her journey as an educationist.

Greatest inspiration
My greatest inspiration has been my mother. She has been with me through happy times as well as hard times and instilled in me the feeling that there is nothing difficult to achieve if you honestly work for it. My mother was the one who never stopped until she saw me fulfil my dreams; she shared with me her confidence and positive attitude towards life. She has been a role model for me. What I am today is because of her tireless efforts. She inspired me to strive hard when I started my career. During those days, girls were not quite encouraged to aspire for a career but her determination that I should hone my individuality was so deeply ingrained in me that I set out to fulfil my goals in life. I will always be indebted to my mother.

Difference in the education system over the years
The education system has undergone a sea-change since my time. I never studied in Classes I, III and V as I got double promotion for these classes. Such rewards are not possible in the present scenario — no matter how meritorious a student is. I was very young when I passed the Secondary Examination (passed Class X at 12) and, hence, the level of maturity was not what it should have been. Now sometimes I wonder if I was quite casual in my attitude!

Today, the twin pressures of, studies at home and in school are often proving too much for students. Add to it the burden of parents’ expectations and their attitude towards career choices for their wards – and we spot many a roadblock in the way a child sees the world.

Initiatives at South Point
South Point, even before I joined it, had made its mark in the field of education with extraordinary Board results. Also, since its inception in 1954, its teachers and their teaching skills have been legendary. The School’s staff is highly qualified, efficient and dedicated and inculcates among the students a sense of pride, responsibility and love for learning.

After becoming a member of the big South Point family, I joined my team members and the top management to take education to the 21st century. We emphasised the importance of using technology in the current classroom situation. Digital classrooms have since reaped excellent results – the brilliant performance by the School’s 12,000+ students makes us so happy and proud every day.

Our students, Pointers as we fondly call them, have made a mark by excelling in all avenues of life. Multitudes of pupils, who have walked through the portals of South Point, have left a lasting impression in their respective fields. We see Pointers doing well in areas as disparate as science, academics, economics, medicine, journalism, entertainment, art and culture and sports. Besides excellence in academics — as proved by the regular good results in various Board examinations — South Point strives to give a holistic education to its pupils, instilling in them social values and duties as well as preparing them for the life ahead as responsible citizens of tomorrow.

It is wonderful to note that Pointers thoroughly enjoy and excel in co-curricular activities of all genres. Diptayan Ghosh, the youngest Grand Master in Chess from West Bengal, India, is a student of South Point. National winners in various other sports in CBSE competitions are Pointers too; we appreciate their hard work and cherish their triumphs.

South Point has a global presence through its alumni, who are spread all over the world and are luminaries in their own fields. By 2019-2020, the School is poised to relocate to a sprawling and futuristic new campus spread over 6.65 acres of land with a built-up area of more than 6,00,000 sq.ft. South Point is then expected to have a student strength of about 14,000 and staff strength of more than 1,000.

Impact of the Social Media on Education
It has been our constant endeavour to help students use the cyberspace responsibly and understand the effects of their online activities not only on themselves but on the reputation of their families and their school as well as on their future. We reiterate that students’ posts on the social media are not personal. It is a social space where impressions are created and identities are formed; a bad name acquired through the social media can create a buzz and can even go viral. It takes a lot to build reputation, even online, and only a minute to destroy it.

Most cherished milestone in life
My greatest achievement was when I started teaching post-graduate students at the age of 19. Some of my students were possibly older than I was! It gave me a lot of confidence to accept all challenges in life.

If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
If I could do one thing differently I would like to change the mindset of those youngsters who do not understand the importance of family. I would also try to make parents understand that they should not choose the career for their child. That right rests with the child. Parents, however, should give the correct guidance by pointing out the options that could be suitable for their wards. A child must neither bear the burden of parents’ unfulfilled desires nor is he/she obliged to fulfill them.

The road ahead
In addition to working for South Point, I would like to constantly use my educational expertise and experience for the betterment of underprivileged students. I would try my best to make their future bright by providing equal opportunities and facilities to them and by making their lives pleasurable and stress-free. I believe the right balance of studies and fun makes the task much less daunting and that is what I would like to bring about.