Thursday, October 23, 2008

Teachers and Students

Finally a critical topic to talk on. Teachers and students. What exactly comes to your mind when you hear this topic? School life, punishments, those days of bunking classes (though I never bunk'd any class in school but I did make sure that classes were not taken) and of course exams!!! Now, let me ask you another question: exactly what comes to your mind when you hear of "College" Teachers and Students?

You got it right. A completely different world! Here the dominant picture is not of a teacher punishing the student due to smoking but rather a teacher smoking alongside a student. And after watching that scene, the first thought I had was I remember: If teachers are like this, then can we blame the students for smoking?

I had always been a strong critic of smoking, and I used to blame the students of JU for that killer habit. But after that day's picture, I had nothing more to say. JU has been responsible for shattering many of the myths we had about teachers in our school- for eg: they should be honest, decent chaps whose sole aim in life was to make us good human beings! Now mind you I am not saying that the teachers of JU are dishonest and indecent people. I can never dream of saying anything like that- but the culture of JU has itself been responsible for shattering many a myths about the typical teachers we faced at school. Teachers of JU are friendly, helpful, cooperative and really good at their jobs. I consider myself immensly fortunate to be able to meet such wonderful people. They have helped me to view the world differently,they have shattered certain age-old myths about teachers.

But in this process, they have also shattered some good old habits of teachers. I must point out that these are solely my views and not inclined to offend or patronise anyone. I am a bit old fashioned and I prefer to live by my virtues. As such when I see that a teacher hands out wine to the students, my old fashioned conscience can't let go of the fact that it's the 'teacher' who is handing out a drink which is not considered drinkable by many middleclass, old fashioned parents to date.I must point out that according to the old fashioned way, it's the teachers who are supposed to lead a student to the "correct" path. Now I won't go into the definition of the "correct" path- it's a general path that leads away from vices like gambling, drinking, greediness etc. But a teacher handing out wine to the students would provide a wonderful image to my overenthusiastic romantic mind of where the morals of this country are heading today. One of my intellectual friends pointed out: "You see the students study in college. They are not children. They are quite capable of taking their own decisions. And it's not as if the teacher forced them to drink..." I agree with him, it's just that morality seems absurd at a point like this where everything seems perfectly "logical". Students smoking with teachers -"big deal", students taking a sip from teachers- "big deal"-- then what is the deal all about? Are old fashioned morals no longer "viable" for the generation of today? It's funny I use the word "viable" because that's what everything has come to mean now.

A student wants to be popular, what does he do? He starts drinking and smoking beside taking one or two puffs. Who does he have to turn to for an ideal? Accomplished professors of the university who smoke despite a written document banning smoking in the university. Professors talk of social revolution and the U.S economy degrading the Indian economy but will smoking not increase the foreign revenue of multinational cigarette companies? How can not following health measures bring about a social revolution? I am just a mere student pursuing graduation but THIS is beyond my understanding. This is outrageous.

Nowadays we see that, occasionally students have "affair" with teachers. Now I don't get , how can a student have an affair with a teacher without that teacher's consent? You need two hands to clap. It's okay for students to have crushes on teachers, they are young and inexperienced but that does not mean that the wise and experienced and reverend professors will succumb to their will. Again outrageous! Where did the good old days of ethics and morality vanish?

All in all, the professors of the university have been responsible for shattering many an old myth I had of typical teachers. Some of it was good, some of it was bad. I guess no one is perfect. But when it comes to the professional sphere, Teaching is a noble profession. Not only because it deals with giving knowledge but also because there are a lot of young people who are affected by the revolutionary ways of life teachers instill in us. We learn to be proud, we learn to have no fear. But what if all this is not executed in the establishment of teaching itself and special favours are conducted only on those who rejoice in the act of buttering? There is darkness beneath the flame. And if we don't want this darkness to repel us, we have to turn towards the good old ways of morals and ethics. So my point is this: old fashioned ways of thinking are not that bad. They are worth a try.Now if one wants to indulge in "modern" ways just to be a wannabe, it is his/her problem. But this really doesn't suit the reverend teachers of a 5 star university.

Teachers mean a lot to us. Naive and childish actions from them is the last thing we expect. Dichotomy in characters can well lead to hypocrisy and it may ruin the respect a student has for a teacher for life. It may not be possible to respect a teacher any more and b'live me that is more hurting to the student than the teacher. Teachers should be friendly, they should be charming and enthusiastic but for once I will humbly request them not to forget the old fashioned morals that still govern the heart of our culture.


priyadarshi said...

Now when u talk about morality and ethics I want to ask you what is moral and what is ethical or who defines these two entities.I dont think you have actually dispelled any of those age old myths that you are talking about because u still seem to be stuck in between that confused state which I like to call the"My generation conscience"which is neither here nor there.You have mentioned drinking and smoking as vices but haven't defined why so?I completely agree that these are habits that one can do without but what I have learnt from my taechers and my university in all these years that there is more to a person than our perception of him or her,drinking might be bad if you cant control yourself but if it can distinguish between who are your true friends then I'm game anyday.And I would rather have a teacher who says and does whatever he or she thinks than have a hypocrite who talks about ethics and morality at e very chance and is nowhere to be seen when the time comes to live up to your words.I respect my teachers not because they choose to make me a better human being but because they respect my identity as an adult who has the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and is the sole reason for whatever kind of a human being he or she that is,cos for some people being "human"is more important than being "MORALLY"and"ETHICALLY"CORRECT.happy blogging

the silent observer said...

I completely respect your views. And I wholeheartedly agree that that a person should not pretend to be something he/she is not. And mind you, I'm not talking about pretension at all. This is the point I've been mentioning throughout : A person should not pretend to be something he/she is not.Remember, I mentioned that some people try to follow a "pop" culture just because of the fact that it is popular. They pretend to take into the popular habits of drinking, smoking and even doping, just because they see their seniors do it. They don't judge whether that is something good or bad, correct or wrong (I'll explain tht in a minute). Similarly, I agree tht some people pretend to uphold "ethical" and "moral" (I'll explain this too)views but when the time comes, they fail to follow it. I am talking of these hypocrites only.

Now to come to another issue you have raised- and a very interesting one I might add: What is morality? what is ethics? You are right in pointing out that morality and ethics depend on the outlook of a person. But when I mention "old fashioned morality and ethics", I mean the general simplistic view with which people of the early age used to view life-just good old honesty, hard work, no drinking, no smoking-mind you I'm talking abt Bengali morals here...this is something we get to see even now, when middle class parents ask their children not to stay out of house for long at night and many of them WILL, I'm sure shiver at the slightest hint of their children drinking or smoking...forget, doping! You see, our parents are not yet as broadminded as we have become, again courtesy,JU and specially the Dept. of Comparative Literature...!

Now, you have raised another good point: the problem of "My generation conscience". My question to you is: What do you mean by this term? Does that mean that your (our) generation is not supposed to have any conscience if say, to explain in mathematical terms, conscience= honesty, no drinking, no smoking??? What is conscience? Who decides what conscience to have? Is there a general societal conscience? Or not?

"neither here neither there".....hahaha good point raised, my friend. A lot of us are confused. But don't you think there is nothing called "black" or "white" nowadays? Everything is grey, isn't it... So we cannot afford to be either here or there...we have to understand both the view points and try to respect them..after all, that's all we do in this dept. isn't it?

Did I mention "drinking" and "smoking" are vices? Well, I was talking of the "old fashioned ethics and morals" (I have already explained them above). What I meant to say is that nothing in excess is good. So while , personally for me, a group of students soberly drinking at a pub can still be acceptable , a teacher handing them glasses is something I can never imagine....why I'll mention later.

You are perfectly right in saying that there is more to a person than just the fact of whether he/ she drinks. Indeed. Again, I agree with you.This is something I have learned from JU. Smoking or drinking has got nothing to do with the kind of person he/she is. I was just trying to point out the fact that there is a code of ethics that teachers should follow.Now again I'm nt saying tht JU teachers shud trt us like skul kids, all the time telling us what not to do. None of us would like tht... I have also mentioned tht teachers shud be friendly, this is a perfectly right thing, but there shud be boundaries. Now this point is exactly where you and I vary. For you one glass from a teacher may not mean overriding of boundaries but for me it is. I Guess we owe it our different temperaments and sensibilities. Can't change tht.

"being "human"is more important than being "MORALLY"and"ETHICALLY"CORRECT."

ok..well I have nothing to say on this also. For me , a human being is not devoid of morals and ethics. If he/she is, then he/she is not a human. A human being differs from other animals. the sole reason is because not only do they have a brain, they have a strong sense of conscience. They are able to think and act accordingly. We have been educated (this education is not tht of achieving an MBA) by our society, culture and family to certain ways of life. Most of us wouldn't go and murder a person just because say, he got the girl of our dreams, right? But animals would. They would fight with their competitors until they lose or die. That's exactly my point. Our values shape our way. They are the ones tht make us human.

I have already mentioned what I disliked abt the teachers of JU. This overriding of boundaries. A teacher talks of bringing a social change, against MNCs but he himself smokes a foreign company manufactured cigar..where is the honesty there, my friend? I am talking of this hypocrisy and this DOES exist among teachers. This is absolutely my personal point and my personal views. You may or may not agree with it. Again soome teachers have a lot of arrogance imbibed into them. Students just looooooooooove their attitude. But for an "old fashioned person" like me, I guess I still like to believe tht education is supposed to teach one humility. Again you might or might not agree. Mind you humility is not equal to hypocrisy. I guess this is where the question of "neither here nor there" comes. You love a person who's rude just because you think he/she is honest. but there is a lot to people than tht. Rudeness is not equivalent to honesty. this is something I firmly believe. You might point out tht it is not rudeness , it is straight forwardness. Well, there is a very strong line between rudeness and straightforwardness. I guess tht is something which is easy for us to understand.....I hope I don't need to explain tht..but if you wish do tell me, and I gladly will. There is a limit to everything-was the point I was trying to make throughout the article. Friendship b/w teachers and students is good but too much of friendship will override he good.

Thank You.

priyadarshi said...

you still seemed confused to me.You are talking about good old bengali morals.Well those good old bengali middle-class morals would require you to give up your studies and get married as soon as possible.Bengali morals would require you to dress only in sarees and forget about trying western outfits.I dont think you are going to do anything like that because you choose what morals to believe in and what to discard,its not your traditional parents who decide your course of actions its you and only please lets not talk about good old-fashioned bengali morals.

the silent observer said...

What I mean by good old Bengali morals is something I have already explained. Mind my point, I never am saying tht we shud disregard the "modern" customs in exchange for traditional Bengali customs only. what I am saying is the achievement of a harmonious balance between eastern and western customs. It is possible to achieve both these arenas but at times, we tend to give more importance to the negativities of a culture more than on the positivities. Its up to us wht to take and wht to discard. My way is not the only way. But certain things tht go against my values ( and these values have been formed over a course of years not only by my experiences and observations but also family has played a very important role in shaping these values) are the things which I'll protest against.

I still think teachers shud have a certain degree of dignity and maintain a certain distance. You may or may not agree, it's your choice.

priyadarshi said...

Dignity is a very strong word and I think we understand very different meanings of the very same word.

the silent observer said...

I wholeheartedly agree..."dignity" here means the stature a teacher is supposed to keep when interacting with a student, a distance and personality.