The One With The Chits – A Memorable Classroom Experience – IIM Raipur
‘All right! Come on! Quick! Next!’
‘70 and 55, Sir.’
‘Good good, NEXT!’
The atmosphere in Prof. R. K. Jana’s class was electric, not an unusual sight for his lectures. It would be hard for an outsider to fathom why a continuous stream of orders, punctuated only by some meek voices, was necessary for a preparatory class in Statistics. But then again, one would have to attend Prof. Jana’s classes to truly appreciate his methods.
The energy in the class expertly eluded the fact that it was right after lunch. Or the fact that it was only Day 3 of the preparatory sessions. Over sixty students at their desks, calculating the mean of the number-pairs announced by their peers with the professor conducting the class in the most unique manner. He only bent down to pick up an occasionally fallen chit and quickly resumed tossing, with a flourish, the entire set on his desk. As student after student came over to choose two chits, he kept an eye on the remaining students – trying in vain to catch a sleepy face.
As soon as the last student was done with his selection, Prof. Jana, in his trademark way, asked the class to fire up MS Excel on their laptops. Using any resource necessary (books or online), we were asked to figure out how to make a histogram of this experiment. Racking our brains, we finally got the desired result and it couldn’t have been clearer – the bell curve! Over the remaining minutes, topics ranging from the probability distribution to kurtosis were discussed and problems were solved. Between his interactive examples and experiments with teaching, ninety minutes sped by quickly.
Some may call his pedagogy eccentric, I call it effective and look forward to his class in Term 2. It was in this class I realized that I was at a place where I belonged.
I was at IIM Raipur.
Aditya Khandelwal is a First Year Student at IIM Raipur