It was close to half of decade of my being a professional quizmaster that I was fortunate to start interacting with our former President, Dr.Kalam. It was during one of these meetings that he was with a delegation of teachers from Europe. In his inimitable way, introducing me, he asked them if they have quizmasters in their countries. After some silence and smiles he quipped “Don’t bother, he is also a teacher. His teaching method is different and sometimes his classroom is a stadium”.
Recalling the thought process of the visionary man, to introduce me the way he did, gives me goose bumps even as I punch these words. What the incident did to me was interesting. From that day, I started looking at myself as a teacher and explored ways to treat each of my student interactions with a focus on what they would learn.
Couple of winters later, I was stranded one January morning, at the Delhi airport, courtesy the fog, and ran into Mr.Balasubramanian (Bala-ji as he is better known) , the former Academic Director of the CBSE Board. Our discussion, over a coffee, glided to the point of how quizzing can be an engaging form of learning. Bala-ji was at the time pioneering several CCE initiatives across India. He pointed out four things that amazed me.
Quizzing is one the oldest forms of teaching he said. The great Socrates used questioning as powerful tool to learn. The Socratic method revolves around inquiring, probing the mind and going deeper into a subject with more questions. He continued, that quizzing fosters reasoning and critical thinking. He then said, take Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Quiz shows have rounds from visual to audio to logical deductions and more, all of which caters to multiple intelligence. He ended with a quip, Do you know why Harvard is Harvard, it’s because they teach by asking the right questions, not by providing answers.
A decade later, it is heartening to see our system of education evolve rapidly and several progressive schools looking at deploying engaging ways to hold the attention of the students in class. What is fantastic about such methods is that it makes learning fun and one rarely forgets what one learns in a fun environment. It is perhaps appropriate that the word school comes from the Greek word ‘skhole’ meaning a ‘place for leisure’!
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