Dr Shauli Mukherjee is an experienced academician with a demonstrated history of working in and setting up K-12 schools. She is an influential Thought Leader and an Effective Motivational Speaker.
Dr Shauli Mukherjee is currently working as the Director of School of Education & Dean – Students’ Affairs at Adamas
University, Kolkata. Under Dr Shauli Mukherjee’s able leadership as the Founder Principal, STEM World School, Kolkata has been ranked and awarded as the 2nd best International Day School in West Bengal by Education World India School Ranking 2016. As a changemaker, Dr Shauli Mukherjee has been at the forefront of bringing meaningful changes to the current education system.
Among many national and international awards, Dr Shauli Mukherjee has been the recipient of the Certificate of Achievement by Education Today for exemplary contribution to the field of education in December 2016.
Here, in the exclusive conversation with Wonderpublish, she talks about the importance of Thought Leadership and various facets of education on both the macro as well as the micro-level:
Q. 1: What is thought leadership? And what does it mean to you specifically?
Ans. Thoughts are very powerful, and we are the leaders and the creators of the thoughts. So every thought that we have is a kind of energy that vibrates at a particular frequency. And that gives an impulse to our brain. And matching that impulse and energy, huge groups of cells get activated and they start working towards bringing the same thought to reality.
So whatever occupies your mind-space is actually a GPS for your brain. We have to realise that we have to be in the driver’s seat of life and if not then life will drive us. So all through my career as an educationist, I have tried to empower the teachers and the students and have tried to make them realise what is the part and the power of thoughts so that they can develop into the best versions of themselves.
And that is actually the role of a leader. A leader has a particular vision, idea or goal. And A thought leader will always create a very powerful ‘Why’, i.e. purpose around a particular thought. And when you are able to do that people spontaneously get pulled towards your vision, and your thoughts, and that is what thought leadership is all about.
Q. 2: Since under your leadership as the Founder Principal, STEM World School, Kolkata was ranked and awarded as the 2nd best International Day School in West Bengal, can you tell us what makes a school great?
Ans. Basically, I am a curious person who has a questioning attitude about everything around me. Since our current education system doesn’t give a lot of weightage to innovation and creativity, challenging the status quo comes very naturally to me.
At STEM World School, where I started as the founder-principal, for example, there was no red pen for corrections. The teachers used to correct with multicoloured pens. There were no textbooks in the kindergarten and also started doing that at the primary level. There were no standardised tests. It was totally activity-oriented teaching and experiential learning. And in the end, I was happy to see children learning at their own pace. And the happiness quotient of the kids, teachers and the parents played a very important role. So when the kids are actively engaged in the process of learning a school start becoming great.
Q. 3: What are your thoughts on the new education policy?
Ans. It’s actually very progressive and futuristic. But having said so, everything lies in its implementation. When you start implementing it, you suddenly start seeing what are the actual roadblocks. But yes, in terms of a policy, it’s definitely a need of the hour.
Q. 4: How do you think this pandemic has affected student?
Ans. Students have started taking ownership of their learning. They have started becoming self-driven which they were not earlier. Before they used to take a lot of things for granted. But now because for more than 9 months, students have not been able to go the school, they have not been able to meet their friends physically, they have started to realise the value of socialisation, the value of schooling, and the value of having a good teacher at her side.
Q. 5: As a National Executive Member of Global Edu-Leaders Forum (India-East Zone), are there any specific issues you’d like to talk about which are specific to the region?
Ans. I don’t think there’s anything region-specific. When you are dealing with education, you are speaking about the overall outlook of the system. I can tell you our system doesn’t require reformation but revolution. Nothing short of it would work.
Our current education system is predicated on two premises. One is the industrial, factory model of productivity. And the second is the prison model. In fact, the concept of role-call reeks of prison mentality. So it needs a complete makeover.
Q. 6: What are the new things you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
Ans. I would say two very important things happened. One on the professional front and the other on the personal front. Speaking about the professional front, this was the time when I took a professional shift from school education to higher education. For more than 23 years, I had been working in the school education sector. During that period, I set up three international schools in Kolkata, one being the first STEM School in West Bengal. So during this pandemic, I actually stepped into the higher education domain.
Having said so, I always wanted to work with the real influencers, that is, the teachers. So now, I’m actually getting the chance to nurturing the minds of the would-be teachers. So I’m very happy.
Q. 7: What message would you give to the educators and administrators of educational institutes?
Ans. I would say to the educators that it is not a difficult time, but a different time. And the only way forward is to up-skill ourselves. Because in this VUCA (Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous) World, the only way forward is to keep yourself aligned with what society and the present moment demands of us. So this is not a trying time but this is a time wherein we have to prove that we have much to contribute. So please don’t lose heart and don’t lose hope.
Q. 8: Lastly, what message would you give to the students?
Ans. I would say that always remember that the world does not care about how much you know but what you do with what you know. And for that, every one of us has to realise why we do what we do.
There is a very interesting Japanese concept, Ikigai which is the reason for being or the purpose of existence. This is one reason why I should wake up in the morning every day. So, we have to find our Ikigai, the real purpose, the big WHY of our existence. And it lies at the cross-section of what you are good at and what you love doing.
Also, ask yourself one important question, ‘what is the one problem you’d like to solve when you grow up?‘
Watch the entire conversation below or listen to it on The Wonderpublish Podcast:
Connect with Dr Shauli Mukherjee on LinkedIn