Asha Alexander, the Principal of GEMS The Kindergarten Starters, Dubai, gives us an insight into her life and explained how students can become the best possible version of themselves through resilience and a problem-solving attitude. She also elucidated how parents and teachers can help in this journey of the students.
Journey to Today:
As her husband was with the Indian navy, Asha Alexandar had to frequently change cities. As a result, she taught in various schools across the length and breadth of India. She also got to teach in schools having students from varied income strata.
Mrs. Alexander has always been more intrigued and fascinated with different people than the different places. She believes this made her more understanding to different students, making her a better teacher.
Mrs. Asha Alexandar climbed up the ladder through her dedication and skills. She has always believed that “The Best Resource of any School is its Teachers”. She has always proven her worth and tried to justify the position she holds as an educator. Right from her childhood, Mrs. Asha Alaxander was taught that the key to success is ‘feeding one’s body as well as a mind well’. And this is what she imparts to all her students as well.
Mrs. Alaxander’s father has been a great inspiration to her. He was extremely open-minded and saw no difference between a girl and a boy. That is something that she has always followed and taught all her students.
Another great inspiration in her life is Mr. Nelson Mandela. She admires his resilience and how he fought against all the odds to make his way through the world. This is something she has always tried to incorporate into her life as well.
Resilience and Problem Solving Attitude:
Mrs. Asha Alexander feels that Resilience and a Problem-Solving Attitude helps people excel in their lives. She believes that all students should inculcate these to grow into the best version of themselves.
- Resilience: She feels following a certain set of ethics and values is extremely important for any person. But, the hard part is sticking through those values at all times. A person can easily hold on to their ethics in a good situation. However, what actually matters is if they are resilient enough to follow them when times are harder. Students have to be strong minded to stick to their values even when the entire world is against them.
2. Problem Solving Attitude: Mrs Alexander feels that thinking too much about the origin or extent of the problem is a waste of time. What is important, is to think about how to solve an existing problem. As soon as a student understands the art of solving a problem, they will have a key to making their life more successful. She asks the students to look at a problem like a tough question in an exam, that they need to find the answer to.
Technological Advancement and Climate Literacy:
The pandemic has affected the educational sector in a massive way. Schools had to move from an offline mode of teaching to a totally alien digital mode of teaching. However, Mrs. Alaxander did not face any problems with it. Even before the pandemic, she understood the need for technological advancement. She knew that it was the future. She had already replaced physical books with E-books and used various digital platforms. So, when the pandemic hit the entire world with a big blow, the impact was minimal for her school staff and students.
Another important thing that she introduced in her school was Climate Literacy. All her teachers and students are trained for it. And her future goal is to embed Climate Literacy in at least a hundred schools in over 25 countries by the end of this year. She wants to make this change a part of the curriculum. She feels there are a lot of career opportunities in this field like climate justice and legislation which is still untapped. Once, students have ventured into this zone they will get more opportunities and exposure in life.
Advice to Teachers :
Mrs. Asha feels that in the Indian Educational society, teachers are more inclined towards theoretical knowledge. Teachers should focus more on teaching “how to learn” rather than “what to learn“. They should take time to explain concepts to students and not just teach them how to absorb those concepts.
Another very important part of learning is “asking questions“. Teachers should encourage students to ask questions and be curious. They should never disregard any curiosity of a child because that would put a hindrance to their growth.
She also tells us, how ‘labelling a child’ limits their growth. Teachers should understand and accept that every child is unique in their own way. And they have their own way and pace of learning. So, rather than labelling a child and comparing them, teachers should acknowledge their uniqueness. This would help them grow to be the best version of themselves.
Advice to Parents:
Asha Alexander feels that Indian parents try to keep their children in a bubble. They feel if their children have to solve problems on their own, then what is their role in the child’s life? However, this is not the case. This only hinders the child’s resilience and problem-solving attitude in life. If parents give the answers to all the questions, then they are short-circuiting the relation between theory and practice for the child. Parents should let their children fail and let them learn from their own mistakes. Only this would inculcate a problem-solving attitude and help them grow in real life.
Parents should not pull strings for their children, and let them make their own way in the world. Mrs. Alexander strongly believes that ‘struggle is the only way children can grow stronger to survive in the real world’.
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