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This question is rarely asked. I often hear students asking “Who is the best teacher for…?

Quite amusing, I would say. Though I should confess, I myself went about hunting the “best” teacher during my CA days.  This is almost fifteen years back. My first brush with coaching classes was when I made an entry into the final stage. Along with the herd, I joined the “best” teacher in town. I paid a whopping amount for the “best”. There were 80 odd students in class (quite large in those days). The classes were 10 kms from my place. I would have to discount couple of hours on journey. But then I was part of the elite crowd. I thought I had arrived…

Thus started my journey. We were supposed to TAKE notes, TAKE the solutions to questions and TAKE the instructions. At times I would not understand the question or solution, and could not help feeling perplexed. Neither the teacher nor my brethren took too kindly to my asking questions.  At the end of the sessions, there would be a huddle around the ‘celebrity’ instructor and hence I lost all the inertia to clarify my doubts.After a while I gave up. The subject was restricted to ‘notes’ and ‘important questions’ and magic ‘pudias’ (potion)

By the time exams were on me, I found myself wanting in confidence.  The teacher had covered all possible variety.  I had religiously gone through notes and had worked out all the questions myself, which were done in class. But there was a fear of unknown or may I say a fear of facing questions or a fear of being asked!

I realise most students face this. Because most of us are conditioned to TAKE and not to ASK or being ASKED. The modern day ‘coaching’ classes are designed to be a one way communication and students are meant to be ‘spoon fed’. Have you imagined ever at being thrown a question or how often have you hada privilege to question? Uncomfortable as it may be, facing question gets the students to think and respond in quick time. Asking questions brings in more engagement and a sense of participation. And that is how we grow and hence our self-confidence and mind grows. Unfortunately, with big batches, even a well-intentioned coach might not be able to implement this.

A good trade-offis online classes.  I reiterate it is a trade-off. While you don’t get to ask questions or being asked real time, you have the luxury to pause, think and figure out. A good book with some preparatory reading of the relevant chapters while you watch online videos always helps. And if there is a query resolution option built in, it does go a long way. The other collateral benefits are in terms of cost and time.  However the challenge with online classes is its passive nature and that it requires the students to be self-motivated enough to go through the lectures and finish the sessions in time. Personally, I believe a blended model could cover a lot of this lacuna.

Therefore I ask ‘Who is the right teacher?’ One who allows you to think, allows you to question, and affronts you with uneasy questions. Being ‘best’ is not enough!

Amit Parakh
A Finance Enthusiast, SFM/CFA/FRM Trainer
Check my SFM classes here

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