Tribute: Susheela Raghavan, educationist whose passion was geography

Well-known educationist Susheela Raghavan who resided in Alwarpet passed away on August 17.

Susheela was the last of the ten children of Mr. & Mrs. Bhashyam Iyengar, wife of Major Raghavan and the second daughter-in-law of T. T. Krishnamachari, former finance minister of the country.

Her father served the Military Accounts Department. She moved to her father in law, T.T.Krishnamachari’s residence in Alwarpet after marriage and lived for over five decades in R. A. Puram.

She had recently shifted to Alwarpet.

With an M.A. in History from Queen Mary’s College and a B.Ed., she went on a Government of India scholarship to the University of Southampton to study geography.

She later got a P.G. diploma in geography from the University of Madras. She was a rank holder right through all these courses.

Her early teaching was at Delhi with Armed Forces Public School (1960-63). She joined Padma
Seshadri Bala Bhavan School while it was still a young school in 1966 and served there till 1978. She
held several posts there and grew from a primary school teacher to become the Directress of the
primary school.

After a brief stint as a part time geography teacher at Vidya Mandir, she worked at
the Krishnamurthi Foundation of India as a senior geography teacher till her retirement in 1994.

She was a member, secretary, president and a pillar of support to The Association of Geography
Teachers of India which operates out of Mylapore.

Her passion for geography was very deep. In education circles, her name is synonymous with
geography. She was an author of geography text and map books, articles and short stories for
children. She demonstrated that if there is involvement and imagination, things around us could
become teaching aids.

She would make a ball a globe, broomsticks – latitudes and longitudes, sand –
mountains, and blue coloured thread – rivers! She could transform any teacher with interest into a
geography teacher. She has an important place in the history of The Association of Geography
Teachers of India for its growth and the network it established.

A teacher to many children and adults for over 60 years through many schools and forums, she won
the hearts of her students with her unconditional love and non-judgmental attitude. Her former
students kept in touch with her and she remembered each one of them, their distinct skills and
talents.

Post retirement, she chose to help many schools and NGOs. The schools she taught at and that she
helped establish have her imprints across many programmes.

She was the Correspondent of Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Madras. She was the Founder Chairperson of
Vidya Peetam, Sholinghur from 1982-1999. From 1995, she was a Trustee of the Akshaya Vidya Trust
that manages the three Vedavalli Vidyalaya School. From 2008, she was a Trustee of the Bhuvana
Foundation that runs Vidya Vanam, a tribal school at Anaikatti.

She was a member of the University Women’s Association. She worked closely with the Chennai historian, late S. Muthiah on Madras projects and contributed to the geography portions.

  • Written by Dr. Bhooma Parthasarathy, Correspondent, Vedavalli Vidyalaya, Ranipet-Walajapet

7 Comments on “Tribute: Susheela Raghavan, educationist whose passion was geography”

  1. Geography is history taught Tom Friedman around y2k as he declared the World is Flat…

    Susheela Miss has sadly gone into history today – her memories as an awesomely passionate teacher is evergreen some 50 years later. Was very human but at times she could be tough…great days at PSBB for a whole era of students like us !!

  2. Places came alive when she taught – because of her solid grounding I could easily connect with many place I visited in my career and always felt she has already given an introduction to that place ! Great and unforgettable teacher !

  3. Ms. Susheela Raghavan taught me Geography between 1964-68, in PSBBMS. I was in the first batch of Matriculation students. She introduced us to Stembridge in 1964 and made us read the text that described Geography as one would do History… alluvial soil, pre-cambrian rocks, Savannah, Pampas, Prairie, Alfalfa, the tropical & temperate grasslands of the world, rolled off our tongues, as we internalized Geography. And she made sure the learnings stayed internalized, through the wonderful medium of Project Work. She divided the class into groups, gave one topic to each group to study and research. And then we were asked to project and portray our learnings on the floor on huge world maps made for this purpose. She negotiated with her fellow teachers and took over all the classrooms. And she had the partitions between classrooms removed, giving us a huge area for putting a World Map on the ground. And we could unleash our creativity to portray our learnings in terms of people, their dresses, lifestyle, livelihood and climate. She also took us to see Project Works of other schools like Vidya Mandir, Don Bosco, MCC to enable us benchmark our studies – our strengths and weaknesses. Susheela Miss made learning Guso much fun, that I still relish teaching the subject to my grand children. Long live Susheela Miss, may her soul Rest In Peace.

  4. Is geography a science or an art? For “Susheela miss” as we students called her it is both. Her teaching was scientific and her question papers were art. Memory goes back to an open book test set by her that was such a stiff challenge. Many decades later she had us alumni scratching our heads over a quiz. Long live her memory. Om shanti. From psbb school 1975 batch.

  5. She is still a source of inspiration for her students who were given the confidence to explore and find new vistas.
    Forever indebted to her to have learnt about the world around us beyond the text books

  6. We at the geography teachers association are indebted to Susheela ji for her encouragement and support in all our activities over the many decades. We draw inspiration from her patronage to continue with all enthusiasm in her absence from our midsts.

    1. She showed us the world through her Geography teachings. As a human, I have met very few people like my wonderful teacher, friend & mentor- Mrs Susheela Raghavan.

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