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Monday, March 1, 2010

On Teaching and Professors

In the 4 years of college , I have come across several varieties of professors and saddened by the way the majority of these "professors" handle teaching. In this post I will try to put forward as well as I can what I think being a Teacher/Professor and how they affect you.

Teaching,at whatever level it may be, is not about passing on what you know to the uninitiated. It is about teaching them the right way to learn it. A sort of a guide who guides others on the journey to discover the joys of Knowledge and the correct way to use it.

For example, I had a professor who used to come to class, open her book, dictate from it and leave. She used to think that she was a "Text to Speech Converter" and we were all "Speech to Text Converter".
And obviously, she was and still is the most detested professor I ever had in my life.
Is this what Education and Teaching is all about? Then why are we even going to college? We might as well read all the books and be done with it.

It is one thing not knowing how to teach, it is totally another not to know anything and pretend to know everything. The professor that I referred to earlier fell into the this category. I might as well say that she ruled this category. She had absolutely no idea of what she was teaching. The rare attempt by a naive student to ask her some doubts ended in the standard reply "I have just given you an overview. Its not possible to explain it all in details. Refer to the book and net for that".

And then there is entirely another class of professors who are so passionate and erudite that they are a walking encyclopedia on they subjects. Their teaching methodology are varied and sometimes weird but nonetheless effective and makes us interested in the subject. You actually want to sit in their classes and never miss one. The information they provide you is based on their experience and no book would give you a clear comprehensive view of the subject as they do. Books inherently tend to be very impersonal. But with such professors, its a real pleasure to learn.

Another type of professors that I like and admire are those who have been given a subject which they do not know, but every class they come prepared with notes and do their research before teaching us. It shows that they themselves are in our place and are learning as they go along with us. And most of the time it works out fine. We know what to expect from them.

The worse group are those who don't even care what you learn or not. They are like government employee. They are happy with their life as it is, don't exert too much on themselves, enjoy themselves at other's (usually us) expense. They come to class as if a king coming to his Throne room and if someone doesn't rise to greet them they immediately penalize the guy/girl. There may be some subtle flirting going on too with them being partial to some people.

They talk as if they are highly erudite but in essence don't possess an ounce of useful knowledge. I sometimes wonder how they could be holding teaching positions in such esteem universities with such pathetic state of affairs.

To tell the truth, this post is half inspired by my anguish at my own professors and if any of my classmates are reading this , you can really know to which particular prof I was pointing a finger at.
But the essence of this post is to bring out the horrible state of affair that our higher education system is facing. With such faculty in esteemed universities, there is no hope for bright minds to bring out cutting edge research, in fact research is not even encouraged.

I had entered with high hopes from my University, but it all came crashing down. Faculty blames the student, students blame the faculty. There is a middle road in this debate if both students and faculty try genuinely to accept help and help resp. I wish the Higher Education Authority brings its act together and does something about this.