Can teachers remain mentors? by Chandraprabha Venkatagiri SignUp

Can teachers remain mentors?
Chandraprabha Venkatagiri Bookmark and Share

 The digital era is replete with feedback. You want to buy something on Amazon or Flipkart, you check for feedback. You wish to stay in a resort. You are tempted to check on customer reviews about the resort.  You wish to buy jewellery.  But hey, wait a minute…. Why not check on customer reviews?

The academic world is no longer insulated from such “feedback” or “reviews”. Institutions conduct student feedback sessions on a faculty even if that teacher has spent 15 years in the same institute and demonstrated his/ her loyalty. In 99% of the cases, the student feedback is used to reduce the increment due to teachers. Thus, in many educational institutions, students have become customers.

The teacher did not allow you late in the class. Go and complain about him/ her to the Dean/ Director/ HOD. The teacher rebuked you for mischief in the class. “How can he insult me like that in front of others? Let me get even with him”… So, students often have been found to use “innovative methods” to cook up stories about their teachers. 

Indian mythology is replete with examples of where the teacher was revered next to the parents. But today, student customers deny even the basic courtesy that is due to their teachers!  The internal marks have been assigned now. To hell with the teacher! There is no need to even wish him or her!  The student would have given a blank paper in the end semester examination but he would still complain that he didn’t get good marks. Students may do the lousiest presentation in the class but would expect “full” marks for this.

In such a situation, when students complain about their teachers for every small disciplinary action taken, how can teachers become mentors? If students do not want advice, what advice can you render? Some institutions award increments to teachers based on feedback from students. Is this fair? Another horrifying aspect is that in many second rung B-schools the management does not bother to cross check if the feedback was genuine at all. This puts the concerned faculty members in a vulnerable situation. No wonder, teaching (especially in B-schools) has ceased to be an exciting proposition.

The teacher goes prepared to the class but what he or she gets in return is a big yawn from some of the mischief mongers. Yet it is the teacher who has to assume responsibility for the performance of students. In cities like Chennai or Bangalore, many female students join a business school just to escape marriage (this is based on their own admission).  Many male students in Bangalore and Pune join an MBA program for the degree certificate that can fetch them a handsome dowry. These boys are from rich families and drive to college in the swankiest of two-wheelers.

Jain University in Bangalore is notorious for such rich students who do not have any second thoughts about sneering at their teachers. Symbiosis was known for its discipline once, but now I keep hearing that even they have succumbed to the “students-are-customers” syndrome.  Now with such kind of indifferent students, whatever effort a faculty puts is a total waste isn’t it?

So, if students have become important as revenue-generators, how can you expect teachers to become mentors? The teacher was the most respected person in society. But that was a long while ago. Today, the successful teacher is one who has to keep his/her conscience away and pander to the whims and fancies of students. This means – even if a student has not submitted an assignment or not delivered a presentation, the teacher is forced to assign marks because if the student fails in the examination or if a student gives poor feedback about the teacher, it is the teacher who is the loser at the end.

Rather than solely rely on student feedback, cannot institutions shoot the videos of lectures delivered by faculty members or install CCTVs in classrooms to separate the wheat from the chaff?

When will this rot be stemmed from our present educational system?

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Again this is a good article by the author. When something becomes a trade more than a service, there is no wonder the customers dictate terms. This is all because of Indian psyche and avarice. I remember many of my very good teachers both in school and college even today though there were bad teachers also at that time. But, it is also a fact that today those coming to teaching profession also are not exactly interested in the job and work just for money. Naturally, that reflects in their behavior to the students. A complex nation with more complex attitudes!

G Swaminathan
02/05/2019 05:27 AM

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