Sunday, July 30, 2006

Where are we going friends? (contd)

My second daughter is doing her Ph.D. in UCLA and is happy with her set up. She would like to do a post-doctoral work after she finishes. No saturation or satiation seems to have set in. She had a friend over for dinner one day. A young boy of 27, waiting to finish his Ph.D and get back to India. He spoke of a dream that he had for his motherland.

“ I want to do something for the youngsters in India. As a kid I was scared of my Chemistry lessons. We should have interactive sessions that make the subject interesting. I want to join an organization or body that could make this possible.”

I had no heart to discourage him and I kept mum. It is easier said than done. I was reminded of a professor in our own university. He had done his research in Japan and was the HOD of the Botany Department of a college in Jamshedpur. The college had been recently granted permission to start PG courses in a number of subjects including Botany. The professor in question wanted to revise the syllabus for ecology and environmental studies. He wanted to include applied aspects keeping in mind the industrial nature of the township we live in. He had several meetings with the powers that be. They would not budge an inch and the reasons they gave were as outmoded as the syllabus that was being followed. Finally the professor had to withdraw his syllabus to pamper a few inflated egos. He did whatever was in his power. He refused to allow his students to offer Ecology as special paper. What a paradox! It was the students who suffered in the end. If a HOD, a person with a standing of his own in society, is treated in this manner, can we blame students for not wanting to do PG courses and take up research projects? The curriculum should appeal to students whether they are in grade I or X. The syllabus was revised five years down the line but care was taken to keep our professor out of the whole thing. The attitude was –‘ So what if you did your research in Japan, I did mine in Germany.’ When do we grow up as a society? How do we learn that knowledge is meant to be shared and sustained?

Then comes the question of getting good teachers for our children. Teachers in government schools and colleges get a decent pay but there is no accountability. Those in private schools and colleges are badly exploited and are a frustrated lot. Either way students are losers. Parents dare not question the teacher - they prefer to send their wards to private tuitions paying a hefty amount as tuition fee. Gone are the days when only the weak students took tuitions. Parents are no longer as confident as before. As I said before the blame game continues, with one group blaming the other.

Let us not, however, lose hope. These questions are at least being raised now. We have a small but significant group of youngsters wanting to do their bit for society. And they are the ones who will make a positive impact. We cannot influence policy makers. We cannot stop the trend of the majority in society. But here are things we can do.

Let us appreciate one who out of choice or otherwise returns to his motherland instead of saying ‘he must have been thrown out.’

Let us not laugh at the research scholar saying ‘may be he didn’t get an IT job or for that matter any job’. I have a nephew who did his doctorate out of choice. He got a good rank in the common entrance test and could have become an engineer or doctor. He took up microbiology, qualified for the prestigious UGC-JRF and has several papers to his credit. His mother wanted to get him married. She couldn’t find him a girl! He finally married another research scholar because she was the only one who could understand his passion for research work. The couple is managing well with their scholarship money but in the eyes of the world they come across as fools. His younger brother has followed his footsteps and parents are okay with it. It is the so-called ‘others’ who make life miserable for them.

Let us teach our children to love and respect their teachers. Society will automatically respect them.

Teaching and learning go hand in hand. One cannot teach if he is not willing to learn. Let's not look down upon the kid who didn't make it to the IITs or other engineering colleges. Even if by default he may become an excellent teacher and may end up teaching our own grandkids.

I am done with my bit and I welcome inputs from all of you.


starry nights said...

Interesting post. True Teaching and learning go hand in hand.I have to agree with you that teachers need to be respected and it starts with the parent.If the parent blames the teacher because the child did not do well then thats what the child is going to do, will always blame someone else for failing and not take responsibility .

Hip Grandma said...

starry nights:teachers need the co operation of parents in moulding the child.believe me, nothing gives a teacher more pleasure than to see his student rise much above is not very different to what parents feel about their kids.

passerby55 said...

Whether It is teaching or learning..

Preeta today it is ONLY GRADES GRADES...if u think/do otherwise you are left far behind in this mad race.

Hip Grandma said...

passerby55:grades are imp.but it is not the only imp.thing in have a growing son.take care to holp him get a rounded personality.

Mahadevan said...

After graduation, even for a clerical job, commerce graduates are preferred over Science Graduates. A few brilliant ones, go for IAS (at least in Northern India) and become administrators. A few more, clear the entrance examinations of Banking and Insurance Companies in the nationalized Sector. When they meet, they talk about which batch has come to what stage in the hierarchy. Where will the average or above average majority go ? Can any one of us blame them, if they yield to the temptation from the IT Companies, where they would get salaries which their fathesr took decades to realize. The four giants in the IT sector today employ more than the entire Banking sector, minus SBI. Mothers looking for bridegrooms, have IT boys in their priority list and College Professors or mere science post graduates are least preferred, if not looked down upon.

Let us pay decent salaries to our Professors and give them respect in society. In the US, men who have made their mark in many fields, like Prof. Galbraith, took pride in going back to the Universities to teach.

Hip Grandma said...

mahadevan:it was nice to hear your views.society doesn't seem to realize that the yrend is the IT revolution another revolution in the mund set of the future generation may perhaps set things right.

The Visitor said...

To dear grandma and all others who have contributed this discussion: the society is a constantly changing animal, and whether we like it or not we have to adapt to the changing realities - there is little use in lamenting on what was and what should be!

I agree with all of you that the government should have a clear policy regarding overall development of all spheres of education/life in the country. Quite often the government is also swept by the change that is sweeping across the country. In fact the IT revolution was brought about by the private sector. Considering the opportunities that IT and IT Enabled Services (ITES) in terms of providing employment and a source of money for our country, the govrnment had little option in the matter. My personal feeling is that sometimes such global changes will impact individual countries. The IT boom has been heralded by many as a boon to a country like India, where our main constraint (population) became our main strong point; our colonial history and familiarity with english has also played a major role in our "success".

Now the point regarding why do our youth go to IT jobs, which have high salaries and perhaps not as much "job satisfaction". There are multiple factors
1. plain survival (food, clothing and shelter) in our country has been a struggle. In this scenario the jobs that are the most lucrative would be the most sought after jobs, also causing the talented to migrate to these areas.

2. Societal expectations - these are pressures like those mentioned by you in the post
//he wasn't clever enough to get into engineering etc., hence is doing science or literature. //
I agree that there are still some exceptional persons who studies a subject, just out of love for that subject.

3. Peer pressure - if an 'inteligent boy/girl' looks, after a few years of working, at another classmate, they are likely to compare where they have reached. Most often the parameter for comparison happens to be money and status.

This basic human instinct to look for monetary satiation first could probably be explained by Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. According to him human needs can be arranged in a hierarchy in terms of their power(priority). The following is the hierarchy:
a. Physiological (food)
b. Safety (structure, order etc)
c. Family
d. esteem (recognition in society)
e. self-actualization

Money is a direct requirement to fulfill the first 4 levels of the hierarchy.

Just some of my thoughts.
Sorry grandma, to have used your comment space to almost make my own post. :)

Hip Grandma said...

the viisitor:you're welcome.I enjoyed going thro' your comment.A view from the next haave a valid point there.