Monday, September 12, 2011

The rants of a student

Note: In this post, I am not generalizing the lecturers. I want to throw light on some notions created by some lecturers in their mind that makes a difference they don't realize. To my brother Ajith and his wife Meghna, I just want to say, you both are the best lecturers ever.

I had written a post on the lecturers who take revenge on their students. Actually there is more to it than revenge. When I was staying in a paying guest house, there was a gal staying in the next room. One weekend I had been to her room and learnt she was working as a lecturer in an engineering college. She had graduated just a year ago. She asked about my marks in engineering college and I told her the truth. Just have a look at the conversation.


Me: Don’t ask my marks. Really low. I don’t even have a 60% aggregate. Forget about it.

Her: What? Not even a 60%! I bet you did not study anything.

Me: Don’t be silly. I am not that good at studies. Plus the lecturers were really bad for me. I don’t know what they would get out of giving less internal marks. If they had not done so strict a correction, I would have got a 60% and would be eligible to try for many companies.

Her: No no don’t give me those excuses. There is nothing called good at studies or not good at studies. You people are just lazy to work hard.

Me: *rolling my eyes* Why in the world am I speaking to her! She is crazy.  No there are many people who find it difficult to understand the subjects. There are many people who don’t remember things till the exam.

Her: These are the remaining excuses dear. Why can’t students like you just work hard? I also have students who just don’t work hard. They can’t answer one question I ask them.

Me: Okay, but what about the assignments? Do they submit them on time?

Her: Yes they do the assignments very well. I suspected that they copied from the other brilliant students. But they are so smart. The time which they take to change the sentences from the assignments from the brilliant students could have been used to actually write the assignments on their own. Plus they would have understood the assignment also well. Crazy students. I don’t really understand why they act so irresponsible. Don’t they want a good future?  You know I have given them even just 2 marks in the internal examination.  **proud face**

Me: I thought lecturers feel proud when their students get more marks and 2 is a really bad mark even if it is out of 25. What is she feeling proud for? What if they have actually taken a lot of time in writing assignments? Like me!

Her: It is not possible, Preethika. If they can work hard for the assignments, they can work hard for the exams.

Me:  Oh my god I am getting nostalgic!  For assignments, you need not remember things, you just have to understand the questions, make answers and write them in good proper and to-the-point sentences. What if they can’t remember well for the answers?

Her: You are giving the same excuses again. There is nothing like that. They are just lazy to work hard.

Me: You mean to say all have the same capacity to grasp points?

Her: Definitely!

Me: Oh god she’s so stubborn! She can even say that she is a guy to prove her point. Everyone is not the same! Some people don’t even need to learn at home, like my uncle. He just had to listen to the class and he used to top the class. Some are not that gifted. They have to work hard. Some don’t understand at all. The time given for them to learn is not enough. Some people won’t even remember what they learnt 10 days before.

Her: That is impossible. I have seen my classmates who never worked hard and never learnt a word but always got real good marks. May be they are the lecturer’s favourite and lecturers used to throw marks at them. What about those students who work hard day and night? Don’t they deserve better marks?

Me: Wow! Now I know why she felt proud for giving 2 marks to students. She was giving justice to the brilliant students. Wait a sec. Do brilliant students need justice with marks? Forget it focus on the arguement, Pritz!  I thought they give marks for writing the right answers. Oh god! Speaking to her is like giving an oral test. The only difference is you know what to answer here.


courtesy google images
Her: But the way the answers are written will show how hard they have worked. Less points and just to-the-point explanations. If they understood the points properly, they would have written more. I don’t give marks to such people. Plus they don’t answer if I ask questions in the class. So I know they don’t study. Such students don’t deserve marks.

Me: What if they can’t grasp the points in the first go. They might be working really hard at home to understand it.

Her: Impossible! Neither they pay attention to the class nor they learn at home. That is why they cannot answer.

Me: She is impossible. Now I understand why India is still a developing country. Okay I got to go. See ya tomorrow. (I got up to go. I suddenly stopped at the door.) By the way, there is another possibility. You might not be teaching well enough for them to understand or boring enough to follow. Bye. *smiles*

I never saw her again.

I had thought that some lecturers are sick. That day, after the conversation, I realized I was true. The counsellor part of my head started wondering what was actually wrong with her. She might have worked really hard, has certainly seen many fellow students like my uncle and she is too jealous of them for sure. Plus to make things worse, she might be in a family full of toppers and she would be the poor student among them. (I am sorry to myself for wasting time thinking so much about this female.) She reminded me of a lecturer of mine. I have mentioned her in Point #1 of this post. First of all she had noted me and used to ask me questions everyday. Many students had told she was a good lecturer. That had made me excited. But when she asked me questions in every class, it became very difficult for me to follow her lecture. Every day I would be tensed that she would catch me. Thus I lost the track. The day of the result, she called me to her cabin and shouted at me badly. Her words meant I was irresponsible and did not have any intention to study or get into a good company. How will I if she doesn't allow me to. We all just need a push, a support to understand better and not get bullied and get a complex.

So my questions still remain the same. Why do lecturers act like they are giving marks from their pocket? Why do they act like we asked them to donate both their kidneys when we beg them for one mark? One possibility is the above. Other possibilities can be job dissatisfaction and frustration. Another lecturer was the one in Point #3 in this post. She did that because she was a tiny lecturer. Very thin and very short. The students will underestimate her because of her appearance. So she tortured the students to hell so that the students will listen to her. Basically, inferiority complex. But bringing problems to students’ marks and in turn their future is as bad as forcing them to watch yet another movie where the main actor is the music director who sings songs from his nose. Sorry for the cheesy comparison.

Okay now you might be wondering why I said that India is still a developing country because of lecturers. Well, it does not completely depend on them. This is the theory. There is a really less percent of people who work in the same field or subject they study. Even if they do, they just follow some three to four subjects from the entire course. It is not as important to take all the subjects that seriously like you do for medical science for the obvious reasons. Then why fuss about the understanding of subjects so much? Result is what matters because the companies will allow the students to write the interview depending on the marks. It is so sad that they see the marks first. Marks are all about how much you remember and not how well you code or test some software. I love coding a lot and  I am good at aptitude questions. But I was not allowed to prove myself to them because of my marks in those subjects which I don’t use at work now at all. Now employment in India is limited. The system of grades is not good. But it is not easy to change the system. The only people who can make it better for the students who suffer because of the system are the lecturers. Instead of that, they try to play God and decide who is worthy of what and make them fail in finals. What would the lecturers get by giving the students less marks and make them listen to the word NO at every opportunity? Not everyone has a good financial support to start their own business or company. There are so many poor people out there. Some people struggle hard to get a job to pay back their education loan. If more people get financially self sufficient, there will be less people who are poor. India will soon be a rich country. I guess I am getting too much out of the point but at least on a small scale it is possible right? Why increase unemployment? Okay you might have an argument that engineers can get job anywhere, for example in a bank or a government office. I totally agree but what about those people who can get jobs only in banks or government offices? Is it fair to snatch their only job opportunities? And unemployment directly relates to India still being a developing country, which proves my point.

As I have told earlier, I am not saying that all lecturers are like this.These very lecturers I spoke about above are 'favourite lecturers' for many bright students. I also agree that there are students who actually irresponsible and don't care about their future. But who gave the lecturers the right to find or decide which student is like that and punish them by making them fail in the finals? Is that what lecturers are supposed to do? Give them assignments, ask them questions but why make them fail in the finals?  This is a graduation course. If the students had to learn to be responsible, they would have done that before entering the course. Let them pass and move to the next year and get out of the college. Why make one of their own beloved hard working good student lose a seat because a lecturer had failed an irresponsible senior student for sabak sikhaaying purpose?
What do you people think? Do let me know. 

12 comments:

Venkateswaran Ramachandran said...

A very actual topic that is going in the society.
My self being a Student who protested against a corrupt professor in my college, and facing all his revenge, still managing to get a first class....
I know whats it feels like. But students are equally responsible for their professor's behavior. Professors are not the only ones to be blamed. Your answers can always get its deserved marks. If not , your answer might not be convincing the professors.
Even here, the student is in the fault....


I have a lot to express, but I will shorten my comment with only this much.

SUB said...

i was lucky to have few good lecturer's in my life...but I saw the other end to...one of the lecturer hated me coz i dated her favorite student :)...

Shobhit said...

Indecisive whether I should comment here or write an entire post on this. :D

I'm from a teacher-family as my Mom & Dad have been lecturers for more than 30 years. And my Grandfather (Mom's dad) retired as one too. And I have had a small stint as a lecturer myself. Though I'm really not interested to be one. :P

I have had experiences of all extremes of lecturers through school to college. In school, the senior-most teacher was our class-teacher in class 12 and taught us English in 11th & 12th. She, for some strange reasons, was bent on getting after my life. She failed me in English finals in class 11th and made it near impossible for me to get to class 12. She even guaranteed to my Dad that I wont pass in English in my boards. But amazingly, I scored more than her favorite students in the boards. :-)

Then there was this aged professor of surgery in Med college who was specifically stern with me just because I topped the first year exams. Later I understood that it was his way to keep me focussed on studies and not bank on my first year results.

Then there was our Head of Gynaecology department who, while examining us in our viva-voce, shouted so much that not even a single girl came out without crying. On my turn, she shouted that I should be put in jail (if not be shot) just because in my answer about examining an expectant female, I mentioned checking her weight before checking her blood pressure. :P This very professor failed not one, but two girls in the finals just because one day, she caught them having their text-book open in class during her lecture.

But then there were lecturers who were so good, that I waited for their lectures.

Our Head of the Surgery department (who was probably the most famous surgeon in northern India) was an old man with infinite words of wisdom. He told us that he had actually failed his surgery exam at MBBS level. But he told us that being a good doctor is not about good marks. He never shouted on us, and even helped us with prompts during our practicals in final exams. There was a sense of immense relief for those who had him as the internal examiner.

Strangely, the Gynaecology professor i mentioned above, was this person's wife. :-)

During my stint as a lecturer in a Dental college, I knew well what goes on in a student's life. And I knew how to tackle situations with them without stressing it for them or myself. Though most senior lecturers there, had the students in terror.

About marks, we in India are obsessed with marks. A person's ability is tested through his/her marks. It is just about those 3-odd hours which may be bad even for the brightest of students. This system is so wrong, specially for technical fields like Engineering and Medicine.

Usually in technical courses, the professors have the complete control on whether to pass or fail a student. Specially in PG medical courses, the guide can pass or fail the student at will. (usually determined by how the student performs the guide's personal errands. :D )

You are absolutely right that not everyone is gifted with memory and grasping abilities. I cannot remember things I read a week back. :P

But yes, our system in assessing the true merit of a student is flawed. And lecturers/professors sometimes take undue advantage of it.

A true teacher is not one who just marks a student on his/her merit, but one who motivates the student to perform his best. Whatever best he or she is capable of. :-)

Preethika Shenoy Padiyar said...

Venk: Not always.. Lecturers decide by themselves what the students are like and give marks depending on their behavior and not the performance...

Subrashis: Yours is a funny story :) Won't comment on that :)

Shobit: Seeing your comment on my post itself made me happy.. You should definitely write a post on it... I am looking forward to it..
The English lecturer is mentally sick I guess. What would she get if you fail?
I liked the lecturer who was stern cz u topped.. That's not gona fail u so I have no problem..
The Head of Gyn Dept: I wonder if she has ever been a doc for a delivery.. I am imagining how she might have taken viva for the expectant female! She might end up putting the female in jail for not listening to her.. :P From when did opening the textbook at the time of lecture become an offence.. She reminds me of a school teacher who used to beat us with wooden scale on the finder joints if we had a book below our notebook while writing or rest our elbow on the desk.. And her husband's every day would go like this.. She says: You shot be shot on sight and he just smiles back.. :P
About the marks, the system is so wrong.. For you at least, it is the matter of human life.. For us it is of no use.. My experience of one yr is on VB which I never studied in college..
You said "our system in assessing the true merit of a student is flawed. And lecturers/professors sometimes take undue advantage of it." My question is what advantage do they get? what do they get out of it? Sadistic Pleasure?
The lecturer has to motivate the students, teach well, make the subject interesting.. if they cant do all these, they can leave the students on their fate.. why torture them and make it worse for them...

Sunil Padiyar said...

Thank god, I haven't come across many such people. The only thing that I remember was our arrogant lab assistant... God, even the lecturers were reasonable but this guys was acting as if he was the king out there! Some said he even took revenge by complaining to the HOD about a student with whom he had a fight. And more over, he gave spoiled compoenents during a lab exam intentionally!!

Good write up wifey..

Shobhit said...

@ Sunil : :D

Oh my God. Sunil, you just made me remember our first few days in Medical college. The lab assistant of our Anatomy department was one such creature like you mentioned. Exactly acting the king, people named him as the 'sub-HOD'. :P

During our first week in college, he took revenge on some guys of our batch who had some altercation with him by reporting to the real HOD, the names of 10 boys who came late to class one morning. And that HOD was another creature who was rather an expert in using his hands on students. Sadly, yours truly was one amongst those in that list who didn't actually have anything to do with the incident. :-(

@ Preethika :

You are right in questioning the reason for any advantage taken by such lecturers. Through my experience, I could see the following probable reasons for such behavior.

1. Such lecturers are usually those who had been similarly tortured by their own teachers during their student days. So they feel like getting a sort of revenge. (Somewhat like the mindset of the ragger who has been ragged himself.)

2. Some use such tactics to keep students in check. Specially if they are not imposingly built physically like you mentioned. One of our senior residents was a frail female in her early 30s who was really nasty. And we knew she did that to keep the boys at bay.

3. Some of these lecturers are down with inferiority complex being not the brightest in their own times. So they try to exercise their 'powers' once they are on the other side of the fence.

4. Some are those who take out the frustrations of their personal lives on the students. One such example was when my li'l brother (who was just 7 years then) was beaten with a ruler by a teacher in school even though he has always been the quietest boy. We complained to the principal who came up with the excuse of her having problems in her personal life. But we were taking none of that. And made her publically apologise.

5. Lastly, some, as you said, just derive sadistic pleasure out of it all. :-)

Preethika Shenoy Padiyar said...

@ Hubby: I remember that lab attendant. Thank god he was there for me only for 1 yr. HOD was milder than him. We were happy when the lecturer was in the lab but we used to be scared to death if the lab attendant is there.

@ Shobit: Sad that there are such lecturers. There is a course for everything except teaching ethics. If it were there, such nasty lecturers would know their limits. They would know their limits. They would know that they are just lecturers and not lecturers-cum-police-cum-god.

Sapna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sapna said...

Pritz,

I totally agree with one concept of yours : Hard work is not everything! I know many people will not agree to this. But its rather difficult to accept a hard core reality. There thousands of students out there who work hard , in fact much harder than toppers do and they are very sincere too, but then they somehow fail to showcase it in exams and hence end up being called "DULL" or " LAZY".

The problem which you have highlighted does not just comprise of lecturers, I feel even parents have these kind of notions. When someone else's son or daughter gets more marks , some parents compare and scold their children. The lecturers cited by you in various examples are quite similar to them.

They fail to understand the pupil and hence fail to bring out the existing talent in the student. I hope lecturers read this blog post so that it washes out their misconception regarding "INTELLIGENCE"!

Great write-up!!

AAD said...

Preethika,

well written post, and an interesting perspective indeed... I've had my share of good and bad teachers both...I guess slightly more bad than good, but none that was so distinctly sticks out in memory...I guess I should consider myself lucky not to have horrid memories of them...lol... nice post...

Preethika Shenoy Padiyar said...

Sapna: Very well said! Hard work is not everything. And you are right about the parents who have lots of expectations with their kids' marks, which is, usually, the main reason why many kids commit suicide cz they can't take better marks and they can't face their parents with less marks.

Thanks a lot :) Glad u liked the post.. :)

AAD: Thank u :) You are lucky for not having such experiences... :)

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