“…Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit….”
I am grateful that my better sense prevailed on the day that I chose IRMA over other institutions. One would be hard-pressed to find any other educational institution where so many nonconformists unite to make their voices heard, and succeed at it. At IRMA, prejudices are demolished, notions challenged and insights offered – almost on an hourly basis. The lines between classroom learning and real life vanish. I have learned as much from my peers and from my host family during the village fieldwork, as I have from the professors. And in the process, I have imbibed both humility and pride.
After taking several detours, I am now pursuing a career in academia. I am often asked if my IRMA diploma is of any “use”, as I teach a class of restless undergraduates. Frankly, I do not remember exactly what I learnt in a typical class while at IRMA. What I do remember, however, is how the professors delivered the concepts in class, letting ideas float around, inviting perspectives from students, and generating valuable insights at the end of each session. I also had the good fortune of learning from exemplary teachers, whose ability to engage with every single student and address their problems was nothing short of superhuman. It is an environment where alternative opinions are encouraged and conflicts are resolved in a manner befitting future problem solvers.
Little did I realize then that IRMA would shape me into a better teacher than I would otherwise be. While I do not use those frameworks or theories in my classes, I do try to replicate that conducive environment. If not for my stint here, I believe I would have continued to exist with nonchalance, or even arrogance about the privileged cocoon I have been raised in. I might have even passed it along to my students, contributing towards churning out more complacent individuals with a narrow view of the world. The insidious comfort of favouritism that plagues my profession might have found me, but for the vehemently inclusive approach that my professors at IRMA followed. If I am innocent of marginalizing my students so far, I owe it entirely to the institute.
Calling myself a radically better person as a result of my IRMA experience would mean courting the very immodesty that the institute teaches us to shun. What I have gained unequivocally, however, is sensitivity towards the ill-represented in any group that I am a part of, and a hardwired necessity to question the status quo when matters become too comfortable for comfort. The journey for the mythical “development” that all IRMAns strive to achieve has led me inward, and that, I believe, is IRMA’s greatest gift to me.
From an IRMAn