Teachers – Any takers?

Education needs change – known fact and too banal a statement to make; but HOW? Remains a million dollar question! During the course of this week I have been spending much of my time at a reputed post-graduate institution. During the course of the week I had conversations with various stakeholders of the institution – Directors, Administrative staff, Permanent Faculty, Visiting Faculty! Alas there was the same set of challenges: the new generation has changed, the students are not interested, have attitudinal issues, are always distracted on social networks etc

Since I now teach I was privy to seeing some of these inside the classroom. But something told me if this were a customer challenge how would I have handled it? I would try to talk to my customers and understand their concerns and needs better – so why not do it here? My customers: STUDENTS! Hence I posted this question to the class: “Why is it that many of you don’t come regularly to class, don’t concentrate and many times don’t show interest? Why is it that you make teachers feel that you guys have attitudinal issues?” Obviously the class was stumped (at least visibly). We closed the class on a lighter note and I was hopeful someone would come back.

The next day morning one student walked in to my cabin (where I sit during my visits) and said, “Sir, I would like to answer your question.” Sitting with him for about 10 minutes made me wonder as he kept shooting some thoughts at me:

  • We can get 80% of whatever is being done in class by typing on Google.
  • Most of the classes share standard content and make students express some thoughts on the case – we are already naïve and inexperienced, why are we not taught how to think better and differently but asked to comment and provide rational
  • Some things that definitely make us come back to class is when we can do something by being involved (this one startled me!) – Are all your teachers not trying hard to involve you in class? NO came the answer!

Without taking anything personally when I sat back to wonder I realized there is a truth in what this young student shared with me. He was not telling me anything wrong about the teacher. He was not telling me how boring the teacher was. He was not telling me how they could give more. He was telling me very clearly about how his needs were not being met.

Please! I am not giving this single student all the credit and taking aim at the teaching community but I think the time has come for the teaching community to understand the changing needs and preferences of their customers. Are there any takers amongst the faculty?

NOTE: This incident made me feel special as a teacher because I think Education will go a long way when students feel confident about sharing their ideas / thoughts without inhibitions with their teachers (at least at the post graduate level)

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