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Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Teacher's Day 

An unhappy task lies before me, to remember a dear teacher on an occasion meant to salute the noble efforts of this most undervalued and under-recognized profession. The discomfiting humidity and momentary loneliness I feel may pass but the lump in the throat that refuses to go away may not.
Prof. Deven Dhanak who taught me Organization Development about a decade ago passed on last month. While there may be and will be practitioners who manage an easier bite-sized dissemination of their collective experiences, Prof. Dhanak went the other way in his relentless efforts to get young students to think and feel as a practitioner would in similar scenarios, and channelize those to get the class to comprehend issues and grasp insights which would simply not be possible through a conventional teaching medium.
One may have memories of various tints and hues of an education that one increasingly distances oneself from in the pursuit of corporate effects, but some do stand out especially of associations where teachers have taken the pains to lay down the entire contents of curriculum requirements and then proceeded to wipe the metaphorical slate clean in evolving a learning mechanism that would be interesting, inspiring and ingenious.
His confidence and easy affability even while engaging in serious discussions allowed many a fledgling mind to expand and flower, his ability to ruthlessly exorcise all forms of verbiage and sophistry and instill similar traits in his wards and his use of quote-a-minute asides which were founts of entertainment and mirth on the surface and filled with experienced wisdom and genuine knowledge ensured his classes were always looked forward to, in itself a difficult assignment in an era where strong minds and bodies were wilting under the sheer weight of academic demands. Wearing his erudition lightly, he always managed to hold students enraptured who were sick with waiting for the one-liner that they could chortle at or with as the case may be. Looking back, some of my own professional efforts to attempt to peel the onion and get to the heart of the matter while jettisoning conceivably distracting tactics in a vocal articulation towards those may come from some of my experiences listening to him, as also a tendency to nudge folks into talking about an issue and not around it.
His untimely demise will be felt by those who worked with him, but I do believe that those who were influenced most by his style and substance will bounce back, committing themselves strongly to whatever they held dear just as he had once exhorted me and many like me to !


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