PANEL DISCUSSION ON REDISCOVERING THE TEACHER: UNRAVELING DEBATES IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

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Date- 24/01/2013

CHAIR: Dr Ravi Kumar, Department of Sociology, South Asian University.

DISCUSSANT: Dr Dev N Pathak, Department of Sociology, South Asian University.

PARTICIPANTS:
Dr Santosh Kumar, Department of Sociology, Ambedkar University.
Dr Nabneepa Bhattacharjee, Venkateswara College, Delhi University.
Prof Avijit Pathak, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The first in the series of the department seminar is the panel discussion with the issue of discovering the teacher. The seminar was initiated by Dr Ravi Kumar firstly by introducing the panelists and then discussing about the importance of the teacher-student relation, which has to be free from mechanical barriers and that the university environment should be vibrant and open to new issues and discussions.
 

Following were the key arguments put forward by the speakers:
 

Dr Santosh Kumar tried to discover the teachers in the framework of globalization. He mentioned that teaching cannot be modular and schedules cannot control teaching. Further talking about the effect of organization in teaching he adds that the work of the teacher is not just to teach what is written in the book but more inputs should be provided to the student which is out of the modular framework. He emphasized on the importance of orality and dialogue which is missing in today’s teaching as it has become more mechanical due to the introduction of technology. He then talked about the issue of distrust amongst the student and teacher. One of the factors contributing to this is the new culture of documenting every interaction between student and teacher that over time results in the loss of faith between the two. The only way to manage this moment of crisis is to continue to believe in the vocation of art. 

Dr Nabneepa Bhattacharjee began her discussion on a positive note, she believed that we all can learn from the moment of despair in the education system that is bothering us all. She mentions that teaching was sacrosanct once upon a time and is now a dying art. She discussed how research has replaced the teaching. With time printed words have started to grant more immorality to the teachers than teaching at class room which has shattered the pursuit of teaching. It is important to understand the politics of contemporary literary culture and there is a need to understand the transformation of teacher-student relation. She argued that research and teaching has to go hand in hand.      
 
Prof Abhijit Pathak’s talk was full of amazing stories from his childhood to his experiences as a teacher. He also frequently quoted beautiful lines from poems and songs. He emphasized that he always believed that a teacher always remains a student as he always learns from the students. The vocation of teaching is lovely; it is the art of communicating. He adds that striving for a good teacher is like ‘striving for the sun during the harsh winters of Delhi’.

He then mentions three components of a good teaching:

  1. Teaching is a moral and a ethical act
  2. Good teaching is research in itself in silence.
  3. Good teaching is not a technique or science; it is a creative art form.

 He also talked about some of the problems we are facing in the field of teaching:

 1. Institutions like UGC and different bureaucracies have formulated strange principles. There has been the constant dichotomy of research and teaching which has destroyed the vocation of teaching.

2. Due to the rule of recording, measuring and quantifying everything teaching has lost its sanctity. One cannot measure the labour a teacher puts in imparting knowledge to his students.

3. The hegemony that the published work has developed has also destroyed the optimism in teaching.
He concludes by mentioning that teaching is the finest thing one can do and even though there are lot of problems in this vocation we all should be positive and even if no one is with us we should walk alone. Thus, a good teacher has to walk everyday overcoming all the obstacles.

Finally Dr Dev Pathak summarized the discussion and flagged out the important points.
He spoke that modular teaching has a lot of limitations and teaching has become depersonalized and that knowledge is not just a cognitive category. It is through dialogic teaching that teachers and students can overcome the problems in the art of learning.    

  Rapportuer:
  Parveen Hussain
  M.A Sociology 2nd Semester
  South Asian University

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