Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
Yakub S Koyyur was one among the 47 teachers, chosen from all over India, to receive the national awards last year. He is not the usual 'chalk and board' teacher; he won the title for being the first one to set up a unique 'Maths Lab' in a government school in Belthangady taluk in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district.
Yakub always dreamt of making the most dreaded subject enjoyable and believed that teaching methods could be modernised to develop interest and curiosity amongst students. He also knew that smart teaching method could be easily accessible in cities but for students enrolled in government schools spread across remote areas in the country— it was a task.
"I had big dreams and aspirations of doing something different to help my students, and inspire others to do the same. I spent many days and weeks pondering about what I could possibly do," Yakub told Your Story.
"Children are good learners but it is up to the teachers to choose how we teach them. That's why I feel teachers must adopt different methods to teach them so that they grasp it easily. For instance, many children and even teachers don't know why Pi is the result of 22/7. But in my class, students will tell you with an example of why Pi is 22/7. That's how I teach them Maths. It's so much more than just a formula," the teacher said, reported Edexlive.
In 2012, Yakub realised that he wanted to transform the existing education system. He imagined a laboratory but this time, instead of customary subjects such as Physics or Chemistry, it was a Maths Lab! A brightly coloured space equipped with smart tools making the subject fascinating and facilitating active student participation.
He shared his ideas with his colleagues and students at the school. Everyone was impressed, however, nobody pitched in to turn it into reality.
"I took to Facebook and WhatsApp and created groups where I connected with my former students and shared the idea with them. I also mentioned the major financial constraints since it was a government school," recounted Yakub.
Within a day, support started pouring in. A total of ₹ 3.5 lakh was collected with the contribution from old students transferring various amounts from all over. Within a period of three years, the ideation and development of the infrastructure were completed.
"I think the lab that exists today is because of my old students and some funds that local politicians allocated for our school. When I explained this concept, students encouraged me but when I spoke about the funds, none of them came forward," he described.
He made use of an unused room in the school and named it 'Maths World', having bright orange-coloured walls, a 52-inch SmartTV screen and other audio-visual tools and charts. The students get to watch Yakub's YouTube channel which has over 400 math-related videos. Additionally, he added a smartboard to help students understand and practise Maths easily. He also created a website to allow anyone to access all the lessons and models related to classes 8, 9 and 10.
"The students take their math period in the lab. They can either explore it themselves or take help from a teacher. They can touch and feel the math models and get an understanding of the concepts, which is clearly better than the traditional 'chalk and board' method," the 48-year-old said.
"My life doesn't revolve just around the Maths Lab, it revolves around the subject. If you look at my website, you will get to see Math notes, important questions, videos of classes, etc. A few years ago, I typed out all these notes and important questions and saved them on my computer. Unfortunately, when the motherboard got destroyed, I lost everything that I had prepared so far. That day, I thought that this knowledge must be shared among other teachers and students so that many people know it even in my absence. That's why I created ykoyyur.blogspot.com which is available on the internet and anybody can access it," he shared.
Besides the national award, Yakub was honoured with the Best District teacher Award in 2016 and State Teacher Award in 2018.
The Teacher's Tale
Hailing from a humble background, Yakub was the only one among his siblings, comprising his two sisters and five brothers, who could pursue high school. He has lived in Dakshina Kannada district most of his life and completed his BSc from SDM College in the district.
Yakub decided to teach children at the local government high school for about two years which ignited his passion for teaching. It led him to complete his Bachelor's in Education from Mangalore University with a second rank.
"I was sure I wanted to be a teacher. I truly believe the position they hold is very important in a child's life. In fact, some of my teachers are the biggest inspiration for this. Moreover, with me being unable to pursue anything else, I learnt this was what my destiny had in store for me," said Yakub.
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