February 22, 2019
An interview with Sanchit Jain, Founder of Knowledge Gate
Q1. When did you realize that teaching is your passion?
Ans: In my Childhood, I wanted to become a Bus driver, then during 11th-12th I wanted to go into civil services, but then as I went into the world of computer science during my B.Tech I was mesmerized. I soon became the “go-to guy for solving doubts and topic explanation.” When I got into DCE (now DTU, Delhi) For my masters, I started teaching professionally at the weekends, and I loved it. Sure, it was a struggle, but I enjoyed it.
Towards the end of my post-graduation, I was in a dilemma, whether to choose Placement (As an entry into the corporate world) or go into Research (A Ph.D. student) or start teaching as a full-time job. I knew one thing for sure if I ever go into teaching, I would not become a professor because I wanted to teach, to truly teach. At college, there are just too many distractions which inhibit you from pure classroom teaching.
I ended up hoping between Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chennai, etc. teaching a subject or two in each city. This gave me a brilliant amount of exposure. I also believe that the art of teaching is not much about content but rather the process of delivering it.
To conclude, during the end of my B.Tech and during my masters, I realized that teaching is what I like. But I also like drawing and painting, the feedback from my work in those fields was bad so I didn’t invest more time in it.
Q2. What were the challenges you faced While making videos for your YouTube channel Knowledge gate?
Ans: The feeling of “I am a teacher” can only be obtained by teaching to a real class with live people. Teaching to a camera and teaching to a live audience are two completely different things, you may think that teaching in front of a camera it would be the same as conventional classroom teaching but no, it’s actually a completely different exercise, you cannot think, let me start in the morning and till the end of the day I will be finished with 15-20 videos. The students who experienced my live face to face teaching watched my videos and said that those videos were not even 10% of what you are in class. So, coming up with these types of challenges was tough.
Q3. What problems do you see in the current technical education system?
Ans: What I observe is that, there are a lot of colleges but to be honest there is no true education found in any, everyone has their degree but knowledge, none. The government thinks that more the number of engineers the better, this is not right. I have seen many Ph.D. Students who have gone through school, high school, college, graduation, and then research but have no knowledge of the essential basics of their own branch/major, so what the point?
Here’s a famous saying “A single source cheating is said to be cheating, but a multisource one is called research”, and this is the harsh reality.
If I go to a hardware shop and ask for a simple lock, the shopkeeper flaunts about the German made locks. I then think it has been more than half a century since independence, but we still have to import basic things like locks. What have we been researching for so long then? Other countries such as Japan, purchase raw material such as steel and sell us back goods, such as ships. The demand of the country should be handled first.
Passing exams and having proper knowledge of the subject, especially in Computer Engineering Are two very different things. I believe that theory examinations should be stripped and objective MCQ or similar format should be the replacement. Students memorize things without understanding concepts, this is bad. A final centralized standard examination must be kept to qualify a person as an engineer.
Q4. JEE is also a big coaching industry, did you ever approach it?
Ans: To be honest, I am not good at the subjects required for JEE. If you are a student, you can skip a few topics and be done with it but as a teacher, if you are skipping topics, I will condemn you like a criminal. If you want you can spoil your own life but you have no rights to blemish the students future.
If ever in the future I choose to take a break from my beloved Computer science subjects, I will surely consider JEE as an option.
Q5. How do you handle both, your YouTube channel Knowledge Gate and Live classroom teaching? What is your vision?
Ans: Knowledge Gate as in a revenue point of view is not that great of an idea, but the fact that my videos are being seen by people all across India and even to other parts of the world makes it worth the time and energy. I believe that as long as my work is being reached to the grassroots, everything will be alright. I get supportive messages from students which hail from major cities of India and even from places such as Bangladesh, Mizoram, Pakistan, etc. If my content was paid, it probably wouldn’t have reached out to so many people.
The reason I maintain classroom teaching is because it helps me keep the flow and helps me be composed. I like to speak, being deprived of it makes me feel uncomfortable. I also like to experiment with my content and delivery techniques, to facilitate this, classroom teaching is a great option.
Q6. What do you think of the large-scale commercialization of coaching?
Ans: The current market is the result of government policies. If schools and colleges would do their duties properly, there would probably be no need for coaching centers.
Nevertheless, coaching is not a crime, it is a place where you can truly gain knowledge.
In India, it is much easier to sell physical quantities such as gold or real estate when compared to services such as education. If anyone wants to sell education, he/she should be able to. In this new generation of IT, the internet will become a huge platform to do this. If students are able to access this, then they should definitely take advantage of it.
Blaming the government cannot be a viable solution, we have limited tax-payers money and have to spend it on defense, health care, education, infrastructure, and many other such sectors. Making sure such a big country is functioning, for more than half a century is not a joke, it has its up and down, we are making progress and that is good.
Q7. What do you think are the characteristics of an ideal student?
Ans: Firstly, you should put an effort and try to learn and secondly, you must not trust anybody. Not your teacher, your parents or any scripture or book. Try to find your own truth. As a teacher I say, you don’t need to take what I teach as the truth, go out, read and further investigate. Studying is not everything. Everything I am today, only 5 to 10% of that is due to my theoretical knowledge. For example, you are organizing a fest here. There is not much difference between running a business and organizing a fest. Team building, interacting with people and managing finances will teach you a lot. Now I understand why it was important to make charts and projects in class 5. While making a poster for my video, I remember that.
You should keep your eyes and ears open and be aware of the world. Don’t study for marks. Study to understand and to solve a problem in society. You should know what you are doing and why are you doing it. It isn't about how many marks you get, you should know why you study a subject and how it helps you and the world. India has a lot of problems today. If you were born in the US or UK, who are well developed, where would be the fun? Being in India you have the chance to make big social changes and solve societal problems. There is a lot of opportunity, resources, and problems to solve here.
Q8. How can the notion that Practical knowledge is more important than theoretical knowledge being inculcated in the younger generations?
Ans: It is very important to experiment with things. I am called by companies for interviews and I ask the candidates about their interests. They robotics, IoT, they say the 10-15 popular technologies, but they only have interest and haven't actually done anything. For example, if you have an interest in Image Processing, I ask if you've presented a paper in a conference or done any research on it. They mostly say no to this. Theoretical knowledge is not everything.
The way to change this perspective is to experiment. If you say you want to start a business of crores, earn small first and show that you can do it. Once I had the duty of collecting money from students. From that, I learned how difficult it is to sell something. You might be thinking something, but the reality of the market may be something else. Unless you start DOING, you will not know if what you know is correct. The theory is different but actually selling a product is different. You only know the value of money if you have earned it.
Q9. What are your thoughts on Infotsav '19?
Ans: It reminded me of my college days. The events and the initiative you are taking are all very good. Your way of working and coordination is also very nice. There are a variety of events through which you can experiment and practice. The thing you need to understand is to take all the experiences and learnings from here and remember to use them in your life. Keep working and work well. Hope that you are able to make an even bigger fest next year!