Dr Prashant Vasudev is an alumnus of the prestigious Delhi School of Economics. Currently, he is heading Delhi Public School, Patna East in the capacity of Founder-Principal.
An academician with more than 17 years of experience, Dr Vasudev is the youngest recipient of the Dr Radhakrishnan Memorial National Teachers’ Award. He is also the youngest recipient of the Global Leaders’ Foundation (Educational Excellence) Award. He holds a D.Litt degree awarded by the University of South America. Dr Vasudev is also on the advisory board of the Cyber Crime Awareness Panel of Delhi Police, the youngest serving Principal to do so.
In a career spanning 17 years, he has efficiently and effectively spearheaded various Delhi Public Schools. He has taught Business Studies, Accountancy, Economics, Marketing & Entrepreneurship across different schools in India and abroad. He has authored several books in Business Management at the school and college levels. He has conducted many workshops for educators and parents in India and abroad.
Following is an excerpt from the conversation Wonderpublish recently conducted with Dr Prashant Vasudev:
Q. 1: You have over 17 years of experience as an academician, and have efficiently and effectively spearheaded various Delhi Public Schools. What’s the most important thing that you have learnt about leadership in your journey?
Ans. A truly great leader is one who leads by example. He should himself remain motivated at all times to motivate his team. He should constantly reinvent by quickly adapting to situations thereby willing to explore new facets and evolving every day to conquer new heights.
Q. 2: One look at your career and one can see that you have been a young achiever. What are the things that drive you forward that too at such a great pace?
Ans. I believe in learning something new every day adding to my existing knowledge base. It allows me to experiment with new ideas and concepts. Since I believe in collaboration, the consultative style of leadership allows me to gain acceptance quickly from my peers and subordinates. I also appreciate creative thoughts and ideas and most importantly having the belief that if one stays determined and resilient, the sky is the limit.
Q. 3: You are on the advisory board of the Cyber Crime Awareness Panel of Delhi Police. Has there been an uptick in the crimes or harassment instances against kids during this pandemic?
Ans. To the best of my knowledge, NO. The job of a dedicated Educator would be to inspire and encourage pupils to discover their true potential and in some cases, giving wings to their aspirations. Hence, when there is positivity all around, there is little scope for negative actions to follow. Being confined to one’s own house can act as a blessing too as at least one of the parents would always oversee the movement of students back home. So, when you know that someone back home is exercising vigil on you, such instances become a rarity.
Add to it the fact that parents and educators are clearly briefed about the norms to be followed violation of which would invite severe penalties. Clear guidelines are laid out and everyone abides by the same.
Furthermore, kids today are tech-savvy and are aware of scams and dangers plaguing the internet. Having said all this, we can’t deny the fact that cyber criminals are counting on kids’ naivete about sharing private information for a host of criminal activities. As we understand the ubiquity of the internet and the new privacy norms, it’s only imperative for parents, educators and schools to safeguard our children’s privacy and protect them fraudsters and cyber bullies.
Q. 4: How did your school cope up during this prolonged pandemic?
Ans. When you ensure parental patronage, they understand the significance of the role played by the Educators in moulding the personality of their wards through various academic and non-academic endeavours. Parents initially felt a sense of Deja Vu, as most of us would have too, not knowing what’s going to be the ‘new normal’ but it also fills their heart with a lot of pride and contentment when they see their kids in high spirits despite the pandemic has caused a lot of havoc. Receipt of fee on time from the parents is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by all schools during the pandemic but our school was fortunate enough to have coped with it well.
Students continued to learn even though school was technically closed. One key lesson they learned was to practice with online learning days: First, it minimized disruption to their routines which would have put them into a lot of stress and anxiety. Second, it kept them busy and third, it built resilience by showing them that threats can be managed through rational, well thought-out preparation and action.
Q. 5: Any special programs or social initiatives that you undertook at your school?
Ans. 1. D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) Program
2. Academic Window (at DPS Guwahati)
3. Science Park (at DPS Aurangabad)
4. Butterfly Edufields Program (at DPS Aurangabad)
5. Principals’ Conclave (at Delhi Police Public School)
Q. 6: Since you are an author yourself, what do you think of eBooks and the usage of other technological aids in learning, particularly in schools?
Ans. As long as there is hunger for knowledge and if quality content is available, students and educators will get it from either conventional books or e-books. The incorporation of technology in schools still foster skepticism in Indian schools due to several factors including health issues, lack of human touch and ability of schools in Tier-3, Tier-4 cities and rural areas to adopt and switch to technology-driven learning.
Having said that, e-books and other technological aids are kept updated with the most accurate and up-to-date information and hence, accessibility of the latest content becomes easy. Computers and technology are used in almost every industry and their implementation as an educational tool is sure to prepare students for success in the future and to make them feel empowered. Heavy school bags have been a major concern for a long which isn’t the case with e-books.
Q. 7: How do you plan to rekindle the team spirit in children as they have lived a considerable part of their formative years in COVID captivity now?
Ans. First and foremost, we need to reflect on our thoughts and feelings around how we feel about returning to normal. Then we need to reflect on our words and behaviours around our children throughout the pandemic. This is just to understand what children have picked up from their elders and surroundings. Children can’t always verbalize their emotions or thoughts. Understand that their behaviour is a form of communication. We need to validate their feelings. It could be as small as fears like “what would a child say or do if his/her best friend wants to hug”. We need to be prepared for some setbacks too and that’s a normal part of understanding the ‘new normal. It can also be helpful to devise some strategies that might help them stay calm and seek support if things go wrong or they feel stuck. At the same time, it is essential to retreat to social distancing norms and practice good hygiene. This can help our children feel empowered and focus on what they can control. We also need to provide reassurance around measures and people who are helping us to stay safe.
Q. 8: Where do you see blended learning going from here?
Ans. Covid19 has highlighted the gaps in an education system that is heavily dependent on the presence of students and educators in the same place at the same time. The system is based on the concept of ‘direct instruction’ where contact time between students and educators play a significant role in what is recognized as learning. Being an eternal optimist, it’s my hope that two of the many good things to come from this pandemic are more equitable access to technology & connectivity as well as more educators incorporating technology in their courses. Flexibility is the key to progression.
That is why blended learning is the ideal way to prepare students for a world where knowledge is not a fixed set of facts you can easily divide into self-contained subjects, but a constantly increasing, self-updating, interconnected whole that requires a high degree of independence, flexibility, and willingness to learn and improve well beyond one’s school years, as well as the IT skills that modern life is making as necessary as basic literacy in order to be a productive member of society.
Q. 9: Lastly, what message would you like to give to your students and their parents?
Ans. To students: Dare to dream as dreams give your life purpose, direction and meaning. They shape your life choices, help you build your future and give you a sense of control and hope. Set realistic goals and soar high like a falcon, there are skies yet for you to conquer. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become!
To parents: Education is a partnership between the parents and the school with a common goal and vision – to impart the best to our children in the most favourable and welcoming ambience. Please cultivate a life-long passion for learning so that young minds step into a world that would be shaped by their dreams and contributions and bettered by their zeal and integrity.