Once on this mountain: Mr. Prabin Rai

As our academic year progresses, we welcome many new staff members. The Woodstocker caught up with some of them to chronicle the first chapter of their adventures.

Once on this mountain: Mr Prabin Rai

Mr Prabin Rai comes from Darjeeling, so the mountains are not new to him. However, he does find the open culture at Woodstock to be a refreshing change. Here’s more about him: 

Where did you work before coming to Woodstock?

I started working in Oakridge, Hyderabad while I was still finishing my MPhil and I worked there for about 5 years. From there, I moved to Gurgaon and then finally to a school in Mumbai called JBCN before coming to Woodstock.  

What subjects do you teach?

I started with teaching PYP (the primary years’ program of IB) and then I moved on to teaching CBSE. I was head of the social sciences for a while in CBSE and then I shifted to teaching the IB MYP, where I also delved into personal projects, and interdisciplinary learning. Later, I wished to teach higher grades so now I am a DP facilitator for Economics and the TOK course (Theory of Knowledge). 

What was the course of your education?

I did my major in sociology. I primarily deal with the social sciences, which encompasses a vast range of subjects like economics, history, geography etc. Then I started to specifically teach economics and TOK.

Why did you choose to teach economics specifically?

Growing up, a lot of my choices for my education were heavily influenced by social conditioning. It was widely believed that to be successful, one must become a doctor or an engineer. Consequently, my high school education was in the sciences. However, when I moved to Bangalore after my graduation, I found that there were a plethora of other courses I could do. So, I explored and enrolled in a sociology, economics and industrial relations course, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So, I wouldn’t say it was a conscious decision from the start that I planned on choosing to teach economics, but that is how everything played out, and I am glad it happened so. 

What is one unique thing you have noticed about Woodstock which was absent in the previous schools you taught?

There is a lot of freedom here, even with the teachers. As a teacher, I find that I have the freedom to do many things as I wish which I see as a form of respect and trust towards my own ability. I find that my leaders and my school don’t micromanage me because they trust that I am capable enough of handling things on my own. 

What is one unique thing about Woodstock students you have noticed?

In the same way that we teachers have freedom, I see students being given that privilege too. Being an IB teacher, I focus on skills and what I emphasize upon is that the freedom given here gives students the opportunity to learn to manage themselves without being monitored 24/7. The student culture here is really diverse and it is great to see students being allowed to freely express themselves and voice their opinions. I also hope that this freedom also comes with the understanding of how to utilize that freedom positively. 

After studying sociology and economics, why choose to be a teacher instead of an academic in the field?

I mean, for me, I realized that life was about attaining happiness. Success for me was to be happy in what I was doing and to have an occupation that made me look forward to the day to come. During my initial teaching years of the PYP, I realized that at the end of the day, my passion was to teach. I truly look forward to coming to school every day and teaching the classes. Granted there may be challenges, but teaching is what made me happy where I am. 

Do you believe that you have truly found your calling with teaching then, or do you have further ambitions to grow and perhaps move to something else in life?

I strongly believe in the idea of education and how it can positively transform an individual. In terms of my personal growth, I want to continue teaching but I wish to take teaching a step further and give as much back to the community as I can. I want to engage in more community service and engagement so that I can somehow help all those who do not have all the privileges that we have. Also, in my journey of becoming a teacher, I found that I will have many students who become a part of my journey, where we all collectively think of ‘how to give back.’ So ultimately, my goal is to help improve society and the lives of the people around me to the fullest.

What is a fun classroom or school incident/story that you’ve experienced?

Many times when I have gone out on school trips/excursions I have been stopped by security or someone at the door asking me to call my teacher, they always think I am a student. It happened to me a few days ago in Woodstock too.

Aryaman is a staff reporter

Edited by Asha.

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