Teaching as a profession

I have spent more than three decades in the profession of teaching in a state University.When I joined this profession ,I had no idea what is this job about.No One in my family was in teaching.While studying in my MA somehow my professor Iqbal Narain got impressed by me and insisted that I should join teaching.He got me scholarship after I completed my post graduation so that I can remain in academics.When you join a job you are new to it but gradually you get used to it and later on started liking it also. All jobs in a long time routinized and become boring especially if you are not naturally fit for that.In a few years newness of teaching worn out and repeating same lessons become boring.To survive in a teaching job without getting bored is a challenge.With seniority you get administrative assignments and other positions which distract you from your routine lecturing.But that does not give you enough solace to survive in your profession. The teaching job does not carry with it power or money.It has status and esteem.

The only thing necessary for a teaching profession is love for knowledge and secondly love for your students.Some teachers give preference to students over knowledge.They help the students in their many troubles like financial problems, administrative inconvenience, securing books etc.They are popular teachers especially among those who come from weak backgrounds.There are others for whom pursuit of knowledge is the primary objective.They are good researcher, published authors, going around the world participating in seminars, conferences, grab important fellowships and have visiting professorships.The reasonable division of labour in this profession is that in undergraduate classes students should be given priority and in the post graduation knowledge should be preferred over students. Acquisition of Knowledge requires love for reading.

A teacher should love the smell of books.There should be an inner urge to go to libraries, seminars, involving in academic discussions, book exhibitions and be an argumentative human being.But not all teachers have this urge.Once I was going with one of my colleagues to a social function and on the way was a popular book shop, we had time on our hand so I thought to stop by for few minutes at the book shop to browse and see if any new book has come in my field of study. I asked him to come with me and he said please you go I can’t accompany you I will wait outside as I hate the smell of books.He served the University for three decades.Reading, writing (research based) and teaching are three essential parts of the job of University teachers all over the world.The degree of intensity and commitment may vary but for survival in this job a continuous performance in these three fields is a must.The academic standard and reputation of Universities and Colleges also varied in the past but lately we are entering into an impossible situation.On the one hand in some prestigious Universities and other higher education institutions a rigorous working culture is maintained religiously while in most of the other institutions in India the essentials of teaching job are changed. Continuous acquaintance with changing contents of one’s subject is thing of the past. Reading before entering into class for teaching was required for an effective lecture consequently getting admiration from the students that ultimately boost one’s self esteem.Now when classes are irregularly held, students are more interested in skills than in Knowledge,University Administrators lack academic leadership and self esteem is not marketable, Reading gets the beating. Research based writing is now a ritual to be performed for promotion and not for contributing knowledge. Teaching without commitment is a hoax. The gap is widening between true institutions and farce institutions.The same gape is widening between illustrious and ridiculous teachers.The plurality of higher education institutions also gives an excuse for a nonstandard higher education.Universities are becoming structured in increasing legal frame and government control is increasing. Universities used to be run by senior professors and laws within Universities were flexible.Universities were autonomous in letter and spirit.But with numerous examples of mishandling of finances, government is monitoring universities strictly specially in financial matters.The growing interference by the politicians and government is also harming autonomy and stifling academic growth of the Universities.

Rapid globalization is also changing the character of higher education in India.Privatization of higher education is also changing the scenario. Private Colleges and Universities are mushrooming every where .In most of these institutions,profit is the only motive.The spirit of serving the country is on the wane.When I joined the profession in late 1970s and when I left in 2016 the academic atmosphere, methodology of teaching etc have changed drastically but the essence remains and that is love for knowledge as an essential quality of teachers.Now students are more career conscious and inquisitive.Now the lectures in the class have to be more interactive.With the break up of enlightenment consensus about the nature of truth and consequently rise of fragmented versions of truth, one has to be very careful while giving interpretations of theories and events and even examples so that no one is hurt.Certain issues are very sensitive, contentious and potentially explosive where interpretations are met with violent protest. Politics has entered University campuses suppressing pluralistic culture of academics. The number of non teaching staff is dwindling in colleges and more and more non teaching work is assigned to teachers.Once a sacred profession is now degenerating into an ordinary profession.I hope the situation will be redeemed soon as the saying goes it is a transitional phase

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