How time flies! It was as if we just celebrated the arrival of 2009 and we are getting ready to bid farewell to the year already. I am inching closer to retirement with just 2010 in between. I think I am going to miss work but then I also thought I could not handle life after my children left home. Did life change? no, it didn't. Missing them is one thing but getting on with life is quite another thing. As the saying goes-
"If you love someone let them go......."
Would children feel comfortable thinking of a teary eyed mother missing them all the time? No, I think they want us to lead a cheerful and fruitful life so that they can pursue their interests. Similarly, much as I love my work, the next generation will have to take over while I make a graceful exit.
Then that brings me to another question that bothers me. Am I leaving the place the way I got it? I am afraid not. Our college now boasts of a huge building and a library that has grown threefold. The size of my lab is thrice the size of the lab I joined. But to be frank the input from us is much less when compared to the time I joined.
What went wrong?
The priorities of students has changed. In my drawing room I have an expensive card wishing me a "happy teacher's Day" given by the Student's union. This was not the practice 25 - 30 years back. In fact Teacher's Day celebrations were limited to schools. These days students touch our feet before exams and after results. They never did so earlier. May be I look old enough to be revered in this manner but I do not rule out the influence of TV programmes as one of the reasons for this new aspect in the student teacher equation. I don't remember ever touching my teacher's feet as a student. But I am sure I loved and respected them in the same manner as the current bunch. Then there is the culture of saying 'bye teacher' after class. Luckily or unluckily we don't have girls saying 'Hi!' when we walk into a class.
My daughter says that the student/teacher relationship is very informal in USA and perhaps the trend is catching up in India too. Whatever be the nature of the relationship, whether cordial, formal or friendly, results should speak of a job well done. I am afraid that in our part of India the syllabus as well as teaching techniques are out dated and do not appeal to aspiring students. It is an open secret that deals are struck and money is exchanged at the time of a college teacher's appointment. The meritorious who expect to be selected on the basis of merit alone can laminate their certificates and place them in a showcase for all to see. If you expect to be paid as per the 6th pay recommendations you better learn the ways of the world! When the whole world knows these things how do we expect the kids we teach to be ignorant? So will the powers that be ensure quality teaching while we turn a blind eye to the appointment process? Is it asking for too much?
If quality is compromised then our students will say 'Bye teacher' and attend a coaching institute that helps them in their career and we can sit in empty libraries and labs welcoming the odd student who makes an entry by mistake.
No, I do not want to put you off with my ramblings. Those of you with young children, please see to it that your children acquire an education that encourages them to reason and think for themselves. Expensive school claiming to provide education at par with internatinal standards are mushrooming all over the place. These schools take their students to USA and Europe for excursions. But whether it is worth the trouble is something that needs to be checked.
So in the final year of my teaching career I plan to make a few resolutions-
1. I am not going to get angry with the student who wants to adjust her classes in college to attend a computer class or MBA coaching. The outdated syllabus that is followed in our college will get them nowhere and if she has a bright future in mind I have to adjust according to her timings or accept being ignored.
2. I will mentally prepare myself to respond cheerfully to the student who says 'Hi teacher' instead of the old fashioned 'good morning or good afternoon'.
3. When the students pulls a stool and sits down in front of me I'll try my best to forget the fact that as a student I'd stand in front of the staff room and ask for permission to submit my record work and it was usually the peon that came to collect my practical record. Even if I remembered it I'd keep it to myself.
4. I'll get used to the new dance numbers like 'pappu can't dance saala' and stop lecturing on how classical dance forms were more appealing when compared to the modern version which to my ageing eyes seem like an ill practised physical exercise. May be I'll sport a cooling glass to hide the disappointment in my optical/occular expression.
5. Twenty five years back I expected students to draw from the specimen provided. Ten years back I gave them my B. Sc and M. Sc records for reference. Five years back I stopped complaining when they copied diagrams from the text book unless they were highly objectionable. Nowadays I sign anything they submit as record work. Progressive evolution I suppose. Young aspirants to a lecturer's post be prepared to get photocopies of book diagrams as record work. Already we have students downloading matter for project work from the internet without putting in even the minimum amount of preparation but examiners are glad that the copied material pertains to our subject. In future you may have Biology students submitting project work in Psychology. After all all disciplines merge at a higher level don't they??
In short I'll try my best to accept the changes taking place in society as long as it is beneficial. I may crib a little and sound critical on an occasion or two. But I do understand that a society can never be static. It has to be dynamic and progressive and though it is okay to remember 'the good old days' it is never proper to expect what worked in our times to be appropriate now.
A Happy New year to one and all of you.