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Sep 20 2019

Learnings from Sonam Wangchuk

I had the fortune of listening to Mr Sonam Wangchuk, an engineer from Ladakh who has transformed education, ecology and even the economy of the cold and arid region in the frontiers of our country while attending the Netapp partner summit. Mr Wangchuk, to support his own engineering studies started teaching tenth graders in his region, and figured out some of the challenges with education in his region.

He decided to abandon a career as an engineer, and set up schools in the cold deserts of Ladakh. His efforts helped the average 10th grade pass percentage move from miserly 5 percent to 75 percent in 20 years time. And for those who failed to clear the exams, he created another school where they used life skills to teach the students aspects of different subjects.

His story is available online, but here are some key takeaways that I have managed to gather from his amazing presentation and lecture.

Teaching requires you to invigorate the imagination of the student and unless you are able to make it an unforgettable experience the student is bound to forget. Hence everything about learning has to be an unforgettable experience.

Teaching has to be localized with examples which is as close as possible to your roots, and perhaps related to your own culture and language. There are principles of every aspect of science and maths (which are considered as the toughest subjects for average student), in nature and your surroundings. Making students relate to them is the best way to ensure that he or she remembers what they have learned.

Best way to learn is to teach others. This will ensure that you fix the gaps in your own knowledge and helps you to articulate which in turn improves your own understanding of a subject.

Finally contribute something back to society, in terms of efforts and ideas. All of us can do that bit to make this planet a better place for future generations.

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