Core Values and COVID-19


I was part of a panel discussion on Education and E-learning yesterday. This was part of the Reboot Karnataka Virtual Conclave organised by Times of India. As part of my preparation for the conclave, I focused on education through a system of core values. This thinking was reinforced by my interaction with the other panelists in the session. I share my thoughts here with you.

You could also watch a recording of the panel discussion here.

Synergy of thoughts

There are times when our resolve is tested to the core. The current COVID-19 pandemic brings us such times. After a couple of rounds of lock-down and subsequent release, ‘normal’ life has not resumed. The ‘new normal’ does not feel natural yet. During the panel discussion, Prof. Rishikesh of Azim Premji University opined that we should not consider the current situation as a ‘new normal’, especially for education. This is a temporary phase and schools will return to their earlier routine. There will be changes in the way of operation though.

I agree with this thought. I also look at this situation from 5 aspects. These are the core values of NumberNagar® and I think it is appropriate to look at the current situation through these core values.

Core value 1 – Innovation

These are times of uncertainty and there is a lack of clarity on how to engage children during lock-down. Several online platforms have become indispensable like Zoom and Google classroom. There are also numerous content providers that have mushroomed overnight. None of these technologies or content providers are in the trenches, though. This is an opportunity when teachers should delve deeper into their creative selves. They need to find ways of engaging students in a way that is enjoyable. They need to leverage all available resources without compromising the experience of students. Harnessing their own creativity into innovative methods is the key.

Core value 2 – Well-being

When we formulated our core values at NumberNagar®, it was a no-brainer to include well-being. Because children are our primary beneficiaries. This expands to the social well-being of everyone in the educational ecosystem. Social well-being is so relevant, now more than ever. The pandemic has hit everybody in some form or the other – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially.

There is a lot of debate about school fees and tension between parents and school management. It is important to be transparent about the challenges faced by each stakeholder. Many parents do not have the technology infrastructure at home to fulfill remote learning requirements, especially with more than one child. Many professionals have also lost jobs. On the other hand, schools need to still maintain their basic infrastructure and facilities, for survival. They need to pay teachers for their work. Teachers have been called on to deliver in completely unfamiliar and challenging environments, overnight.

If we step back and pause, we realise that everyone is facing a crisis. We are all in the same storm. It is imperative we watch each other’s backs. We need to support each other in the best ways possible.

Core value 3 – Commitment

As responsible citizens, it is our commitment to the society that will help it survive. When the going gets tough, the tough get going – this is a saying that has motivated me. Our commitment to resilience and supporting one another will be the key to emerge on the other side of this.

Core value 4 – Entrepreneurship

It is not just about starting a company; entrepreneurs are problem solvers. At such times as present, an entrepreneurial mindset is the need of the hour. Youngsters and experienced alike must put their minds together to understand society’s problem. Then, there is a need to find solutions that are not only business viable, but also sustainable. I say this because of my observation of the world. The entire world is reeling under the weight of a common crisis. In this time, when some companies declare billions of dollars in profit, it makes no ethical sense to me.

Core value 5 – Sustainability

The design thinking approach to problem solving stands at the intersection of three key parameters – customer desirability, technical feasibility, and business viability. Organizations also focus heavily on scalability. In my opinion, a missing key ingredient here is sustainability. We need to find solutions that are viable, scalable, and sustainable.

Food for thought

Times of crisis are also inevitable times of growth. The path we take towards growth dictates whether there will be a future for the next generation. Let us lookout for one another and create a better world for the future. Our core values will be the beacons to create a sustainable future.

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Sriraghavan S M

Sriraghavan (Raghu) is an Astronomer by qualification (MSc, Astronomy, Bangalore University) and a teacher by passion. He is a trained counsellor and psychotherapist. His firm belief and conviction to transform the education system in India led him to be an entrepreneur through NumberNagar®. His core work at NumberNagar® revolves around product presentations, academic content, and training. He teaches Maths and Science to young students, rubbing off his passion to them. He trains teachers as well, inspiring them to better themselves. He has taught Physics in educational institutes, during his early career days. He has travelled extensively all over Karnataka, training teachers and popularising Astronomy. He advocates multiple intelligence and is constantly on the lookout for new things to learn. He is ambidextrous and enjoys sketching. He was an avid cricket player in his younger days. He is an enthusiastic biker and uses long solo motorcycle rides as means of reflection and rejuvenation.

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