Dear teachers …

Politics, good or bad, has infiltrated almost every institution in our country. But when it invades educational institutions, what it leaves is such a filthy sludge that it sucks in one victim after another and it leaves the entire organisation in shambles. What is more? It has swelled enough to directly affect the student community.

Adding fuel to the fire is corruption. It is one field where there is no dearth of innovation. It has a variety of faces like embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, contracts given to friends and relatives, personal expenses charged to university accounts, hidden records, destruction of records and a number of activities that you wouldn’t normally associate with universities. The lack of personal honour and integrity is widespread.

What makes to the news and public domain is only a minuscule part of the ground reality. Here are some of those news:

  • Illegal appointment of faculty – MANIT [Link]
  • Corruption in NIT Warangal – Director forced to resign  [Link]
  • Corruption and Bribery – MCI Chief Arrested [Link]

Imperfections in students, have gone to know no limits these days either. They even tend to lack the basic etiquette of respect and morality. But, let us set aside all the imperfections, that are by and large associated with the student community, for now.

“A teacher affects eternity. He can never say where his influence stops.”

Before continuing this article, I find it necessary to tell that I am what I am, because I have been fortunate enough to have certain devoted teachers. To some people you feel like giving respect, some others command respect, some you hold in awe but there are really a few who make you feel incomplete if you don’t respect and you choose to hold them in awe and reverence. And such good, respectable people, and who are passionate about teaching are everywhere. They are the guiding stars for the students. They add to the divinity of the profession. I am leaving out this subset from the rest of this article. We shall always stay indebted to them.

Teachers should have fear. Not fear of students. Not the fear of senior teachers. Not the fear of administration. But fear of themselves and their conscience. Not everyone is perfect. Not everyone is expected to know everything. But it is necessary to realize one’s incompetencies, and also act upon those realizations. The problem at hand is not that teachers do not realize. The problem is that they ‘refuse’ to act upon them. They refuse to realize students should be taught not to cut flowers, but to grow their own plants.

One of the most respected and adored faculty of my institute once exclaimed, “Teachers here get full pension before retirement and half pension after”. The humour in this statement, cannot make the glaring truth, oblivious. Along the teaching curve, it is said that teachers learn as well. The preparation a staff puts in, before coming to a class, reflects in the way they teach. The level of dedication invariably has a profound influence on the student. But looking at the path the education system is taking, I don’t find any light at the end of the tunnel.

What is more shocking is the fact that teachers sometimes resort to extremely unethical and wrong means to try and coerce students into doing deeds favourable for them. It ranges from relatively trivial deeds like asking students to run errands for them, buy breakfast for the morning, get quotations for lab instruments and many more – to more serious issues like forcing students to do projects under them which would eventually help the lecturers get their own degrees. Suggestions and guidance are accepted as necessities. But force is not. And truly, these accusations are not from my imaginative mind.

Let us move one step further. Will the students yield to the coercion? Oh, yes. Because, coercion goes hand-in-hand with “threat”. Threatening students with their marks and grades. Threatening to ruin a students life if he does not yield to the commands. Threatening students if he dares to formally object to the atrocities. Are students are meant to “obey” however iniquitous the command might be? Are students meant to live an overly subdued life?

How about one more step further? Not only students suffer this plight but also the junior teachers who are newly recruited. They are forced to take sides, and remain a virtual servant to some dominating senior members among the faculty. They are curtailed from taking their own decisions and acting based on their discretion.

Regarding students being threatened, I would like to tell this. Times are changing. Students can no longer be expected to remain silent and oblivious to the situation around. Threats will not have any effect. And when students voice their concerns in a proper way, they should get themselves ready to substantiate their actions.

I would not be talking about all these issues if they do not directly affect the students. With politics on one side and corruption on the other, students are sandwiched in between, and remain as dumb coins on a carom board.

The negative influences of teachers who are more interested in the politics of power than in shaping up a student’s career, go a long way. Teachers teach much more by what they are, than what they say. Students pay fees for dedicated teaching, high academic standards, good industry exposure and decent infrastructure. If an institute cannot provide these, then why make false promises and try to attract budding intellectuals holding high expectations ?

Lecturers must grade themselves – neither by their age nor by their position; neither by their qualification nor by the number of publications; neither by the kindness they show nor by the respect they command (or sometimes, demand). They must grade themselves by the number of students who come back 1, 2, 5 or 10 years after graduation and say, “Thank you”. Good teachers will never be forgotten.

It is time to realize that corruption and politics are diseases. Contagious ones. And it is high time they are cured. otherwise, we will be facing a pandemic very soon. So, please start cleaning up the mess. Make the institution a healthier place, and enrich our lives with a brighter shine.

P.S. Special thanks to Abinaya for helping me with editing and perfecting my article


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7 thoughts on “Dear teachers …”

  1. @Khalid –
    1. Talking in circles does not change the fact that the american economy example was in no way a direct or indirect analogy for the failures of our teaching system. Given two words, anybody can find a seemingly semantically correct link which has absolutely no relation whatsoever to the issue at hand. You seem to have already proved my point in this regard.

    2. Did any part of what I’d written say I’d settle only for the best? It only said I’d settle for something RATIONALE and not something STUPID. Hence the above example. Please read it at least now before commenting again.

    3. 1530?? MIT?? You’ve completely lost me. Please don’t expect people to understand from hanging sentences. In other word, (Fragment. Consider Revising).

    4. Agreed, last sentence is my opinion. I find many people agreeing that it is a sensible one. You concur on that or do you disagree?

    @SMK: I guess we all should. You and Me too. :)

  2. @Ravi – and greed leads to corruption..!! Greed for power, greed for money etc etc – that being the point of the blog…

    If you really are the kind who would settle only for the best, why NIT-T over IITM..?? why 1530 over 1600..?? why not MIT..??
    dude… its cos u once felt at least NIT-T if not IITM… some engineer over not being an engineer..!! :P

    And personally, I think your last sentence is just a reflection of your own thoughts. :)

  3. @eskay: Neat Article…something straight from the heart of every NITTian, passionate about his institute!…i would like you to do a follow up giving your views and ideas for implementation because if there is a problem there has to be a solution…The challenge is to not stop thinking:)..

  4. @Eskay: First of all, People from ICE should be the ones complaining.. :P Well written article but kinda waned in the flow eventually.

    @khalid: Corruption in education is what matters in this regard – you’ve completely missed the point here. No idea why the american economy needs to be dragged here – it didnt fall cos of corruption but cos of greed. http://www.crisisofcredit.com

    Something better than nothing? Absolute trash. You’d eat mud if you didn’t have food? Point said for the sake of making a point.

  5. Agreed that you do have a very good point about corruption n power hungry people. But then, these are natural instincts of the human mind. The American economy fell cos of similar issues…

    I just want you to look at it from another angle – the dearth of teachers in our country. You do know the quote “something is better than nothing”…

    We have an extremely fast growing population… a 100 kids are born in India every minute. Now that means you need at least one new, good, non-corrupt, friendly teacher born every minute.

    I think sometimes you just need to know what to learn from your teacher and what not to.

  6. good one! You have neatly pointed out the ills plaguing the system. Let us hope things will get better.
    As Shyam suggests a change in the mode of recruitment will help.

  7. Few suggestions, some of them u have mentioned urself.

    1. Recruitment of faculty through assessment of teaching as well as research skills. To prove his/her teaching skills, he/she must be made to teach a selected bunch of students from the dept. comprising of under performers, avg performers and high achievers. The students must be allowed to give feedback and evaluate every candidate. For proving their research aptitude, he/she must be made to show sustained research aptitude and work to a body (say the senate) tht has the interests of college in its mind.

    2. Performance based evaluation at the end of every year of the faculty. Bonus and allowance over the basic pay must be fixed only on the basis of their contribution to the college for that year. Faculty under-performing consistently must be subjected to strict action as in the case with private firms.

    Although it can be a very harsh take on the teachers, such an evaluation scheme will ensure that the penetration of corruption and money-mindedness in the education system wil be regulated.

    cheers!

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