TEACHING VS. LEARNING
There are many social media platforms like google, facebook, orkut (till a few years back) etc, with many groups where people put up images for others to identify. While some of the ids were very pathetic, I was surprised to see how college students and even PhD scholars used to take help from such groups to get their plants identified. I always used to think, “what the point of helping them and wasting my time, I am not getting anything out of it”. “Why a PhD students taking help from such a group. I literally hated people who used to send me images of their camera screen with plants on display for identification. I used to scold them and tell them to have patience, go home and then email or send proper pictures on whatsapp. I even blocked many such people from my facebook and whatsapp.
During the time I was pursuing PhD at Wildlife Institute of India and I saw my mentor Prof G.S.Rawat getting lot of plants for identification and some of these plant specimens comprised a single leaf of the plant. He would sit there selflessly and study all those specimens and identify them for scholars from all parts of India. I used to get frustrated seeing him help people and waste his time like this. One day he asked me to take some classes on plant taxonomy and orchidaceae, for some tiger researchers. I said “tiger researchers?”, “but why should I waste my time? they are not working on plants and they have no interest”. He said, “EXACTLY, THAT’S WHY! Even if you are able to raise the interest of one out of 100 students on plants, that would be your achievement, then that tiger researcher will bring orchids for you from all over India, from protected areas where no one has gone before, which no one has seen before”.
That day I realised the difference between identifying plants for others and learning from others, about teaching and learning. My mindset changed and this is what stopped me at eflora and flowerofindia.net. If I don’t identify orchids for others, then people will stop sharing and if people stop sharing, then I am myself missing the opportunity to learn. Sitting in Hong Kong, today with the help of this group I can know what plants including orchids are flowering in India and Nepal when they are shared. This is the beauty of this group. But that’s not all.
This group is an inspiration about how even people who never studied botany can do botany better than many trained botanists. And of course there are legendary trained botanists like Gurcharan sir who not only gave me lessons of botany but lessons of life too.And above all, Garg sir, a relentless guy, as if putting his whole life into this group. Can’t even imagine what tonic he is taking!! And gradually this group became more like a family to me with many members like Dinesh Sir, Balkar Sir, Nidhan Sir, Tabish Sir and many more…. met some good friends back here like Smita, Ritesh, Vijay and many more.
This group is to learn from, about various aspects of life, whether personal or professional. This group is actually a family of people, many of which have never met in real life, yet know each other. A group of polar bears is called a celebration, but for me this group itself is a celebration and I love being part of it, despite the fact that I even got into an argument with many of the members.
कोई तितली निशाने पर नहीं है
मैं बस रंगों का पीछा कर रहा हूँ
————- ज़ुबैर अली ताबिश
Pankaj Kumar MSc, PhD, FLS
Wah!!! Wah!!! Wah!!!
Wow !! Very nicely written Pankaj !!
Posted it in the efloraofindia Facebook page: Facebook link
Pl. give it wide publicity in Social media, by posting it in your profile/ groups/ Instagram etc.
This is what is known as “Speaking from the Heart’. No doubt we all love you in spite of being frank in expressing yourself, which may hurt some, but proves your honesty.
Wonderful narrative of an inspiring story!
Very interesting narration, directly from your heart Pankaj Ji..!!
Wonderful Thoughts Pankaj Ji.