“Ignorance is the curse of God
Knowledge the wing where with we fly to heaven.”
~ Shakespeare, Henry VI Part 1, 4:2
Tucked away amidst a cluster of Gulmohur trees there was a row of bungalows standing as sentinels to the night sky, clad in the beauty of a billion stars. In front of one of those bungalows stood an elegant man of erect posture. As I approached this man, he smiled at me and his smile had a rare beauty, serenity and purity about it. It was a smile that came from the depth of his spirit. I was reminded of what Maxim Gorky wrote of Chekhov: “Anton Chekhov had the most radiant spiritual smile that I have ever seen.”
I was eager to know the secret of this pure, childlike smile on the face of Dr Oommen David. In my conversations with Dr Oommen I managed to get a glimpse of his philosophical ideas and moral convictions that animate and sustain this radiant smile on his mellowed face. I believe that a person’s smile holds a mirror to his soul and it can reveal his life vision and life mission. I would go a step further and say that smile is the man.
A passionate humanist
“Nothing human is alien to me.”
An intense passion for sound human values is what animates and sustains Dr Oommen’s life vision and life mission. It was the spirit and power of true humanism that drove him to pursue his studies in English Literature from St Berchman’s College, Kerala. It was the same sublime aspiration that fuelled his desire to become a teacher and an educationist.
Dr Oommen’s life vision can be encapsulated in one word — “humanism”. For him man is the measure of all things. The true and pure essence of an ideology lies in its humanistic core. It is this spirit of humanism that has fired his zeal for the ignorant and the uneducated.
Dr Oommen joined the Model English School in Dombivli as a teacher. After a few years of teaching, due to his peaceful nature, academic proficiency, administrative acumen and leadership qualities he became the Principal of the same school at a young age and worked in that position for many years. During his tenure as Principal, the Model English School grew in stature and academic excellence.
In my conversations with Dr Oommen, I came to know that he has a deep understanding about the objectives of education. It is his contention that education must sharpen the intellect and purify the heart. Wisdom must be combined with compassion. A capacity for deep thinking, a habit of serene meditativeness should be inculcated in the minds and hearts of young students.
Holy Angels’ School and Junior College
After working for many years as the principal of the Model English School, Dr Oommen felt that his sublime ideas of education could find better expression and execution if he could start an educational institution on his own. He initiated all the necessary steps towards this goal and in 1990 started the Holy Angels’ School and Junior College managed by the Trinity Educational Trust.
Situated in the outskirts of Dombivli, spread over two acres of land dotted with luxuriant trees and ever green shrubs, there stands the Holy Angels’ School and Junior College. As we enter the premises of the School what strikes us most is the robustness and elegance of the school building, its elegance enhanced by the lush green surroundings. As we walk through the spacious corridors of the school building we are impressed by the spacious class rooms, computer rooms, science labs, interactive boards, a huge auditorium, knowledge centre, library with over 6000 books, etc. One also notices a large playground within the premises. Dr Oommen gives a lot of importance to sports and games in moulding the character of young students. He knows well the value of the old Roman dictum: A sound mind in a sound body. There are more than 2000 students studying here, drawn from the different strata of society, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
A shrine of academic excellence
Help me to walk and I shall run
Help me to see and I shall look for
Help me to hear and I shall listen
Help me to sing and I shall dance
Help me to dream and I shall see visions
Help me to read and I shall explore the world of books
Help me to fly and I shall soar.
Dr Oommen believes that excellence excludes all excuses. Man is a poetical creature who adorns and embellishes everything he touches. Excellence comes from exercising responsibility and being accountable for what he does. Dr Oommen’s focus on discipline and quality teaching is one of the main reasons for the academic excellence of his school and junior college.
Dr Oommen observes: “One of the chief objectives of education should be to widen the windows through which we view the world. Education should kindle a child’s imagination, broaden his vision and open for him the super highways of knowledge. The aim of education should be to convert the mind into a lining fountain and not a reservoir.”
Prof Dr. John Mathews is a professor of English Literature and Philosophy. A motivational speaker and columnist, he is the author of The Wisdom & Power of Positive Living and An Encyclopaedic Treasury Of Positive Thoughts For Effective And Creative Living.