118 years of Trust THE TRIBUNE

Sunday, January 17, 1999
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Why are classrooms boring?
By Surbhi Kalra

JUST a few days ago I was on the other side of the table and today I see another day of sea blank faces, staring incomprehensibly at me. I wonder. Is it indifference? Is it lack of interest or what? This set my mind thinking as to why students don’t attend classes. Why can’t we as teachers inspire our students to attend classes? What is the role of the teacher, after all?

To my mind the most important role of a teacher is to stimulate and inspire his students in the selfless pursuit of excellence and enthuse them to come to their own fullness of being as trees come into full blossom. But alas! What is the reality today? The teacher has failed in disciplining the minds of the students to explore their full potential and fathom their own innate power. The teacher today is no longer larger than life.

Of course there is a general degradation and decadence every where in society. But the teachers is almost equally responsible. It is said that a mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. It is so because teaching is the method and not content. Drawing out and not pumping in is the message. The great teacher who inflames the creative curiosity in the students is a rare commodity today. Hence today’s teacher has made the classroom a very boring, dull, uninteresting and a vapid place for the students.

The course structure too is quite obsolete and redundant and fails to keep up the pace with the growing demand, changing scenario and technological advancement. Thus the students lose interest in their classes. A few days ago when I asked a student who was happily basking in the sun by missing his classes, he replied that since the classroom is a monologue, he is not inclined to attend to his classes. The teachers on the other hand show their helplessness in converting their classrooms into two-way communication because their syllabus is too vast to be covered in time.

Pondering over the existing education policy, I feel strongly that people who are in no tune with education and insensitive to the pulse of the moment are often involved to restructure the education system. Moreover, there is no uniformity in its course contents. The disparity leads to confusion especially for those students who have to shift from one place to another. How far is this kind of education policy relevant? Why don’t the captains at the helm try to bring desired changes in the curriculum that imparts vocational education? For example AICTE has a board of research and a board of industry institute interaction for imparting quality education, but it has failed to come at its zenith. The government has approved of 18,709 vocational sections for 6476 schools but if we do a survey to find out the real number of sections actually started, we will be utterly disappointed.

One of the common grudges of students and teachers is that our education system is very theoretical. It fails to inculcate the requisite skills and acumen. Hence the corporate world has to spend a lot of time and money in training the students with the latest knowhow.

Attaining information is not a problem these days but when the information network fails to reach the students through a creative channel and clear direction, it acts as a source of disillusionment for them. They are benumbled to make the distinction whether it is knowledge in pursuit of them or they themselves are in pursuit of knowledge.

Earlier-teaching was considered a very noble profession and people with a lot of interest and aptitude joined this job. But now the things have changed. People who don’t get selected anywhere else resort to this profession. And we can well imagine that the persons who have joined this profession as a last resort are frustrated and their teaching level is rather low. They normally make one typical set of notes at the beginning of their career and rarely update either orthodox notes or knowledge in their respective field.

Because of their avaricious attitude, a large number of teachers have started giving tuition to attract hoards of students and for this either leave their classes too frequently or teach in a dull and insipid manner. Privatisation of education has further changed the goal of education from missionary to commercial and as such the teachers lay more stress on money rather than teaching.

Another cause because of which students are allergic to visit their classrooms is the false opinion some teachers have formed about themselves as if they have infinite knowledge in their respective subject. And to protect this false image they often snub inquisitive students.

Yet it’s not that only teachers are to blame. Students too have gone down in terms of their values. Great multitudes of students today come to the college with a view to enjoy and for a total freak out. College also provides them an escape for a while from the constant tussle, which they have at their homes with their parents.

Again because of the cut-throat competition students under tremendous strain and stress. Their goal is restricted merely to get good marks. They are interested only in getting degrees by hook or by crook and not through real education. Alas! Both givers and takers of education have fallen from the lofty pedestal. Education is neither a mission with teachers nor is it a goal of students.

If such a situation is allowed to prevail unceasingly, how is our education system going to shape up? It’s not that our education system is irremediable. It has a solution, provided we have the will and resolve to redeem the ailment. First of all we must restructure the curriculum by omitting obsolete contents, reducing the vast amount of syllabus and making it more meaningful and vocational. This will not inspire students to gain better knowledge of the concept but will be employment oriented too. Educational tours should be an obligatory part of the curriculum since it helps in a better understanding and enhances the level of interaction between the students and teachers.

So far as teachers are concerned, they should only be selected after a series of selection, placement and aptitude tests. It is observed that teachers normally tend to give their best till the time they are on ad hoc or on probation. The moment they find their jobs secured they become carefree and easy going. To avoid such an eventuality, the best way is to employ teachers on a contractual basis and their jobs should be renewed only on the basis of their performance.

It’s normally said: "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches". The common inference from this much-quoted, statement is that the teacher is a sort of failure in the world of action.

The only way to alter this perception is to attract the best talent by giving teachers lucrative salary and cheering perks. Thus he can devote time exclusively to study, indulge in research and to richly interact with students. Normally the teachers are available only during the class leaving no time for the students to go up to them to clarify their doubts or queries. So a fixed amount of time should be kept exclusively for the students to clarify their doubts every day.

From time to time refresher courses should be conducted for teachers in all subjects so that they can keep pace with the latest happenings. These courses should be compulsory for the entire teaching community. Complementing these courses there should be a regular practice of not allowing the teacher to teach the same course for more than two years. This will oblige the teachers to read new books and material and will break their habit of teaching from their hoary set of notes.

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