She started as a pre-primary school teacher at a Jaipur school. Now, 27 years later, as principal of the Palace School, Jaipur, Urvashi Warman is in a place where she can influence the entire system.
Excerpts from an interview.
Did you always know you’d be a mentor for kids your whole life?
My schooling took place in various parts of the country as my parents were in a transferable job. Each school and every teacher left an indelible mark on my personality, which made me realise the power a teacher has over her/his students. I am deeply grateful to all of them for making me what I am today. I emulated them and then evolved on my own.
What has the journey been like?
I started my career as a Montessori teacher in a nursery school 27 years ago. Nursery children soak up everything around them without being able to discriminate between right and wrong. We adults are poor role models. We shout when things don’t move according to our wishes and then scold our children when they throw a tantrum. These children taught me to be conscious about my words, actions and reactions.
Original career: Montessori teacher, higher secondary teacher
Now: Principal of Palace School, Jaipur
Beliefs: Nurture aptitude, not simply marks
A few years later, I joined a higher secondary school. My work profile fortunately, entailed more than classroom teaching. I was involved in most of the school’s cultural activities, which gave me the opportunity to be with students of all age groups outside the classroom regime. I learnt so much about the human psyche from my children.
What are your ambitions as the principal of Palace School?
We believe that teaching is not a profession. It is a mission to be fulfilled from your heart. Our teachers are carefully groomed to become sensitive and empathetic to the academic, social and emotional needs of a child.
A child in our school has to be a happy child, with a fine balance of the intelligence, emotional, spiritual, creative and physical quotients. That is our first and foremost concern. The rest follows.
What education gap are you trying to address?
Educators today belong to an era where learning was primarily based on memory and knowledge. However today the examination pattern asks questions based on analysis, synthesis, application and evaluation besides memory and knowledge. And so we find students floundering at competitive levels.
The biggest challenge for today’s teacher is to step outside her/his comfort zone and train herself/himself to teach the skills (which he/she needs to acquire first) that will show the student HOW to think and analyse and not WHAT to think and reproduce.
What are your biggest challenges?
Somewhere over the years our minds have accepted the clearance of IIT and IIM exams as the benchmark of success. There’s nothing wrong with that if one has the aptitude for it, but studies have revealed that the extreme pressure youngsters are subjected to in the process leads to severe psychological problems.
Who are your inspirations?
My mother. She has battled ill health all her life, but never let it bog her down. She is a living example of grit, determination, courage and motivation.
How important are women in the field of education?
Women are nurturers by nature and thus take to this profession very easily. However, men play an equally important role and we need more men to join the teaching profession at the school level.
What does ‘women empowerment’ mean to you?
‘Women empowerment’ is a very misunderstood and overrated term today. According to our culture, woman is Shakti: she is born empowered. But she has let societal conditioning crush her individuality. She needs to be reminded of her powers. No amount of legislation is going to help her unless she wants herself to be helped.
What’s your advice for aspiring teachers?
There never was a better opportunity to grow as a teacher and as an individual as there is now. Go for it.
Outro: Principal of Jaipur’s Palace School, Urvashi Warman believes children must be happy if they are to succeed