A CONTACT FROM MY HIGH SCHOOL REQUESTED ME A WRITE-UP ABOUT MY HIGH-SCHOOL EXPERIENCE. I sent the following, and felt may be worth-sharing. Fact-checkers are welcome!
Browse through the biographies of accomplished personalities in any area: you will come across with an honorable mention of their high-school days. Students at this level in an age group of 13 – 16, are the most excited and excitable lot, because that period synchronizes with their power to tiptoe and peep into the expanded horizon of knowledge.
A child may be curious to ask questions, but they really do not worry about the exactness of answers. On the contrary, a high-school student possesses a rebellious mind, with an inclination to ask right questions, with great expectations for right answers. The exposure to various topics during the high-school days has an irreversible influence on the psyche of a student, which follows her/him throughout life, enabling to love special topic/s that one pursues doggedly during their academic and professional lives.
This bestows upon high-school teachers a great responsibility to speak the best facts to the students and patiently wait for their feedback. Such a circuitry leads to critical thinking, and is marked by “asking-telling” episodes that should be treated as a continuous story in a never-ending serial. Any answer that a teacher provides should consider the past-present-future scenarios of the students’ knowledge base. As a person who has coached and advised students in all the levels — from first grade to doctoral days — either “unofficially” or as a part of professional responsibility, I can vouch for this! Treat a student as a lamp to light, not always as a cup to fill!
I belonged to the class of 1962-1965 of the St. Thomas Thope School, which, then, was a branch of St. Thomas’ College High School, Trichur. Fortunately for us, we had a stock of great young teachers — intelligent, dedicated, hard-working, and compassionate — with the result that I became interested in all the subjects, the fervor of which I follow to-date.
A major part of my professional life was spent in scientific research laboratories, aside from professorial duties in college level at the smallest and the highest academic institutions in the world, encompassing all-girls’-, all-boys’-, and girl/boy-mixed environments.
I can’t bridle my thoughts without mentioning about some of my teachers, especially, my science teachers:
• Mr. K. P. Kunjippalu master was my favorite (and, I believe, I was his, too!) ─ a witty, wise, and emphatic personality! Whenever I used an oxidizing agent later on, I always remembered the analogy he instilled, in which he compared each oxidizing class to known shops in the neighborhood, big and small. His demonstration of persistence of vision was a classic by itself, where he envisaged each frame of a movie (taking Bharya — a super-hit of the day — as an example!) with a song sequence (Periyare…). I remembered this particular analogy while writing an article on two English movies, about a year back. Memories etched during that period are indelible!
• Mr. K. K. Joseph, the biology teacher from Kottayam, excited me with a new accent on plant stems and human physiology!
• Mr. G. K. Kurup, the best Malayalam teacher I ever had, (probably from Kottayam or Kollam) indirectly influenced me to even opt for Malayalam as the second language in the college, that I chose, in spite of the fact that I had fared better in Hindi in the SSLC finals and everybody advised me that students, in general, do not score good grades in Malayalam, those days (which was true, but I never repented)! Kurup master taught me how to mine and harvest word-power, how to dissect and appreciate a poem, and how to write good prose.
• Mr. Antony master (Sorry! I do not recall the exact initials; may be K.J.) from Mission Quarters, Thrissur, who taught me mathematics, opened a new window to the mathematical forestry. The algebraic abstractions and stumbling blocks were delineated so well that the unknown X became a friend in the questioning domain of Y.
• Mr. Ramaswamy Iyer, the head master and an excellent teacher of English and Mathematics, was feared so much that it partially affected our learning abilities.
• Mr. N. T. Joseph with his sweet, soporific voice enchanted me with his jokes, chained with important titles from Shakespeare. Mr. Jolly Kattukkaran from Ollur, also a good English teacher — though I might not have been his favorite student — was an enthusiastic teacher who taught me the word “enthusiastically” for the first time in the ninth grade, that I recalled many times while endorsing enthusiastically hundreds of American students to medical schools via recommendation letters.
I might have missed many excellent teachers who also deserved honorable mention in this short dossier.
Thope School was a great melting-pot in shaping my life. I could participate in Malayalam and English elocution competitions representing Thope School (of course, after knocking down other candidates in preliminaries within the school), which came to my mind even yesterday while delivering an excellent talk in a community meeting.
In short, the School prepared me very well for the SSLC exam, with a registration number 118020 (I may not even recall similar numbers from the college!), and I proudly remember standing first in my division in all the six subjects in the finals.
While reading a book on brain chemistry, not in the very distant past, I ruminated over how the electrical signals recorded in our brains are reminisced easily and vividly when our participation in an event is spelled with deep interest and emotion. Indeed, the high-school experience cuts inroads to the neuronal chemistry, disbursing penetratingly in all the net-working synaptic domains!
I am thankful to my school for preparing me for an intellectually-stimulating and aesthetically-pleasing later life-experience!
A Joke: A father carries a ladder to the school while accompanying his son. You know, why? His son was going to HIGH SCHOOL!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Professor (Dr.) Joy T. Kunjappu, D.Sc., Ph.D. (class of 1962-1965), a naturalized US citizen, resides in New York City. At present, he functions as an educator and a consultant-scientist in chemical sciences. During his professorial appointments in USA, he was involved in scientific research and taught chemistry in academic institutions in New York City (Columbia University, Yeshiva University, and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York). An author of three science books and more than 100 scientific and technical articles, his scientific contributions originated during his tenure as a research scientist at Columbia University in the city of New York and at the Department of Atomic Energy of India (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai). He has published five poetry books and two collection of essays in Malayalam; four other books ─ three collections of poems and a collection of essays ─ in English (browse Amazon.com under “Joy Kunjappu”). He enjoys and practices Indian classical Carnatic music on violin, and passionately follows literature and many forms of art.