Of teachers and students

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It’s a Sunday afternoon. And I go to my college where I teach. I dress in capris and T-shirt. I put on a blue rubber slipper. I don’t comb my hair. I don’t shave. I sit on ground. I talk to students in a very informal way. I kick them in butt. And if need be, I abuse them.

Obviously this is not the picture of a teacher. It is not the ‘dignified’ way the teacher should ‘behave’. It is not the way he/she’s hold dress. It’s not the way he/she should interact with students.

In an age when information is in your palm, a teacher can’t teach you what Bharatnatyam is all about, how is Yakshgaan performed, how India achieved its freedom, how you record on a software, what are the various aspects of development.

He/She can simply make that ‘information’ available to you and students can go and read if they wish so. The requirements of exams and syllabi that is taught in our universities (especially where I teach) is such that any student, mind you ANY, can easily score 80% marks in journalism if he/she mugs up just the words of syllabi and one paragraph each about them. Every single year 70% of the questions are the same.

So, academics is just a three-day affair per semester per subject in colleges and universities. And you don’t need a teacher, in the conventional sense, to ‘enlighten’ you. The students can pass easily without teachers.

Then, what’s the need of a teacher? Tell the students the links on Internet where from he/she harvests ‘gold’ and alights him/herself of those pearls of wisdom? Or give them notes/books to get them photocopied?

Yes, at least that is what is expected from me. That’s why I am paid almost half a lakh per month. I am paid to look good. I am paid to use PPTs. I am paid to distribute notes. I am paid to make myself look ‘I-am-busy-in-doing-something-for-the-students’.

But do I do so? No. I don’t. Because this is bullshit. If you say yes, you are still stuck in a time when telegrams were thought to be innovative and markers and white boards were introduced in classrooms and computers were shown in Star Wars.

If you still believe SLRs are the thing to be mastered, you are a moron. When you have the technology to make the image great on a dSLR and digital filters to enhance its aesthetics, why be bothered about looking for extinct camera reels!

It’s like saying ‘typewriters are the things to be mastered, computer is an easy way out.’ Hello, technology is to make your life easy, drag down the pains and time of the process.

Similarly, when the advent of new techniques/technologies have made the information availability change the paradigm of academics and delivery of information, why waste time in giving the students which they can easily extract.

When, I as a teacher know that students will pass even after reading for three days, why should I be wasting my classroom time in reading out from my notes where it is not at all required?

The teachers job, today, is that of a social reformer in a much bigger way. A teacher is a motivator, inspirer, the one who must aim to wash out the prejudices that we hold for each other as individuals and as societies.

PPTs, notes, links, files are all fine when they are strictly needed but it is ridiculous to read out your printed A4 sheet in a classroom which you could have given them in advance to photocopy.

If the aim is to pass those 50 minutes in a class, the whole purpose of delivering to society is defeated.

We are not mere academicians. We are educators. We are the agents of transformation in to the lives that stands on the thresholds of an inner explosion. The explosion of ideas and thoughts. They have just started to know themselves and the society they live in. They are unsure of themselves as to what appeals them, what they aim to get in life…

And that’s our primary job. A culture should be brought in place to sustain this thought process which allows a freedom, a little bit of anarchy, a chaos. Let them feel free and let them choose for themselves. Let them fall. Let them wake up. Let them know.

We are the guides. We will have to give them a large boundary, where they feel free and yet are limited by our guiding forces. They should know that they are free and there are people to hold them when They make a free fall.

College is a culture. What I saw this Sunday was a group of students, coming to college by choice to create music, play, events. I saw them in attires beautiful, moods vivid, smiles colourful. I saw them make music. I heard them clap to make the society aware of what they intend to do.

Only problem is, it is a Sunday. A Sunday of absence. A Sunday without those watching eyes of people, saying nothing conveying too much. A Sunday where they feel free and feel happy.

I want my students to have seven Sundays, I wish they feel free from those questioning eyes which contributes zero to their betterment but sucks their zeal of doing things.

And this is not platonic. This is not romantic. This is not ideal. This is a very much achievable thing. There is no wrong in singing and dancing in your college when you pass comfortably. There is no wrong in experiencing life as it should be.

It is a professional course, it is a job oriented programme, it is a private college. But it is a COLLEGE, for god’s sake! The whole idea is rooted in to freedom of expression while pursuing academics.

Let’s give it to them. Let’s give them this culture. We owe this to them.

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