Photo courtesy orange42 through Flickr
Teachers have been a great part of my life – often encouraging, loving and caring throughout my school life. They really made you want to come to school. You felt good, right!!
But coming to college, I have seen the other side of teachers. For me college was supposed to be “freedom”. But even in India where we pride ourselves for our democratic freedom, the word “freedom” has been made to carry negative annotations in our colleges.
Apart from the ultra-conservative practice of keeping boys and girls as separated as possible and locking us inside our hostel blocks at 9, the biggest restriction is the minimum attendance requirement of 75%. The biggest pain in my life now is the compulsion to go & waste my 5 hours in class everyday. Waste because I neither like nor understand most of the things that are taught in classes. (And I am not alone. Go to any class and you will find most in a state of delusion – chatting, messaging, aimlessly taking down notes and gazing at their watches or cell phones to keep tracking how much more they have to take for the day. There will always be some who are listening very attentively – why they would even listen attentively to Bush talking about world peace. Thankfully, there are some classes which are good, but generally classes are a pain.
I wanted to go deeper and find some sense in this madness. Why colleges need a minimum attendance? Colleges provide us degrees after testing us on a minimum set of requirements – subjects and syllabus that they agree upon. For passing these subjects, why do they make attending classes necessary? Let the student do what he wants to – go to library, sit in lab or just play Counter-Strike in his room. The best thing will be that the college accepts the work that students want to do. All but a very few have some interest which they want to pursue, but drop because it will hurt their GPA. About attending classes – if I like the subject and if the teacher is good, I will attend the class. Otherwise, I will bunk it.
The college should be cool with it. The whole world is moving to a more personalized approach in life – and thats the way it should be with teaching too. College shouldn’t only be restricted to attending ‘x’ number of classes for ‘y’ number of days. I should have complete autonomy on choosing what I want to learn and how I want to go about it.
Colleges and teachers must be brave enough to take this leap of faith. They may face only very few students in a classroom but at least all of them are there with a passion to learn. Let others choose or pursue their own passion. Ultimately, the aim is to help everyone achieve his/her best. Minimum restrictions will only help everyone do their best. The fear of misuse is present and is also valid, but smart techniques can easily correct most of them.
Start with something simple. Instead of giving assignments, where people just print-out the corresponding Wikipedia page or worse print and copy the content.A free way is the best and fastest approach to your destination, ain’t it?