Day 102: If she does not want to take class, you accept it and move on

I showed up at Uni today, after sucking it up in traffic for one and a half hour, and I find out that the class teacher, the teacher for hour 1 is absent. I understand everybody has emergencies, and every teacher needs her time off. But I what I do not understand is how your professionalism as a teacher lets you not show up to class, and not make alternate arrangements for your class.

When A spoke to the HOD (wink wink, the model citizen), he bombarded her with comments about how if teachers did not want to come to college, then students just had to suck it out and take a free hour off. Students didn’t have a right to attendance, he made it sound like. He did not let her respond to any of his comments, and just bombarded her with his outdated theories.

We spoke to JK later on, and she reminded us about her M. Ed days in Bangalore University, and how students had no right to question for attendance. Even if the teacher was in the office, but did not feel like taking the class, we could do nothing, she said. She asked us to suck it up, and ask teachers that we knew to see if they could adjust their classes with us. And if they couldn’t, to suck it up and have a break.

Unfortunately, I do not approve of or agree with their logic at all. Every student makes an effort to make it to class every day, mental, physical and emotional effort. I drive 20 kms every day to get to Uni, and another 20 kms to get back home. I take all that pain to learn something new from esteemed professors who have the knowledge and the expertise. If I had to stay at home and learn on my own, I could have taken up a correspondence course and not a full-time one. And if I am not ‘getting taught’ after my 20 kms long struggle, the least that I should get is attendance for the hour that I showed up. That is the least that anyone can do to respect my time, and everybody needs respect.

Don’t get me wrong. If there was a process that I could change, I would start by taking off the one which requires 85% attendance in the first place. But, if that is set in stone, and this very same teacher had the nerve to send me an email that read ‘strict disciplinary action will be taken if you miss classes unnecessarily‘ after I sent an OOO email for being sick, then the teachers should take enough care to make sure they aren’t faulting from their end.

“You spent 1.5 hours in traffic and you didn’t take me along. Saadd!! You know how much I love the driving? But, yeah, standing in traffic is not a lot of fun, and I hate that too.”      ~ Scotch

d17f02aa-aecc-4881-824d-dd77f99d6676

Advertisements

Day 92: Am I getting all religious now? 

I knew it the minute I got ready for my drive to college that it was going to be a different day. The mind said so. And the difference became evident when I started the car, connected it to YouTube, and started playing Kanda Sashti Kavacham. I mumbled the words, sometimes matching up with Soolamangalam’s pitch, and drove along. I had only one manic outburst, and I don’t even remember who it was right now.

But the rest of the way, there was a certain calmness in my driving today when compared to the usual manic rage. I’ve told a number of people how drivers typically went through the 5 stages of grief when it came to Bangalore traffic and that I was stuck in Anger for almost two years now. I felt that stage wane and I realized that I had directly moved to acceptance. As the black Honda behind me honked his way between lanes and zigzagged around, I knew he wasn’t going far. As I pulled up, calmly, by him at the traffic signal, I gave him the look a mature adult would give a vagrant teenager. Grow up child!

Acceptance

There was a similar acceptance in class towards GDs pettiness as well. As A told me more about her antics, of how she created an attendance sheet just to mark me Absent and how she warned A to grow up or ‘everybody’ would bulldoze her, I smiled internally and reminded myself that I was an adult. And that such pettiness did not affect me.

It had affected me yesterday. Deeply. But today was a brand new Tuesday and I choose to be the adult. Was I becoming religious now? :=)

Richmond

The song reminded me of Sundays in Richmond, VA. I’d visit the shopping mall of a temple, to get some quiet and peace. Well, not really; because the country itself was quiet when compared to India. Maybe I went every week to feel a little hit of home around me. They had printed books with the entire lyrics and they played the exact version of Kanda Sashti Kavacham that I was used to. Strangers, in different corners of the temple, would follow along with the song, and I would join in. I would sit for the 20 odd minutes it ran, and get up almost immediately when it was done and leave. There were very few days when I’d wait for the Aarti afterward.

A weird routine. A regular routine. For two long years. Had I been religious all along?

Religious? You? C’mon, S! I’ve seen you wave at the puja room and run out the door. Amma is religious, what with her flowers and incense and all. You? Ha! 

Anyway, how about some of that omelet for me now? Maybe if I rest my nose on your leg, the force will be strong. ” Scotch 

Day 91: You can’t win here and there 

Winning, one mark at a time

I came back from the 2 weeks of Radio Namaste to feel extremely targeted and marginalized in class, specifically by GD and SrA. An internal assignment, for which I’d asked GD repeatedly for her mode of evaluation and submissions expected, suddenly had a report to be submitted on the school visits. When I told her about the school visits I had to miss because of the project, she said it was only fair for me to lose marks, because “you can’t win here and there”!

She kept repeating about how timely submission would have 1 mark out of the 20, the 20 that would eventually get halved for the final semester marks anyway. She took extra effort to create fake attendance sheets, simply to mark me absent in these. It was almost like she received some sadistic pleasure out of marking me out.

And SrA was the diligent little puppet that followed all these mindless instructions.

Evaluating the right way

I’ve ranted many times before about how poor the current evaluation systems are. Here is a teacher who makes it seem like even half a mark in an internal assignment is something worth fighting for, or worrying yourself about. She flaunts that 1 mark as a prized carrot that students should compete for. And it makes me wonder what the significance of that 1 mark really is. Are we saying that by getting that 1 mark more than me, SrA is more knowledgeable in that area that I am by 1 count?

An interesting perspective about evaluating that I realized through this episode was the excluding environment that it created. Through simple, random numbers assigned to students, we are bucketing them into simple, random strata that make logical sense nowhere but in our own heads. We make one group feel special and extra important, for doing exactly as we wanted them to, and shun the other group because they colored outside the lines.

What surprised me was how much this episode actually mattered to me. It affected me in ways that I did not anticipate, and that caught me off guard.

Support from outside

As I sat, disgusted by the pettiness, Marathoner walked in and almost knew instantly that something was amiss. He knew them all because he had gone through the same rubbish two years back, and was at their mercy for his M. Phil. He made me realize that the learning I had from the two weeks at Radio Namaste were much more than what any of these teachers had provided in the last year. He pointed out how little these marks mattered in the grander scheme of things. Sense!

On the drive back home, the conversation continued with Sarkar. She made me realize the whole world was hypocritical and there’s very little we’d be able to do about it. She told me that the only ones who mattered were your family – mom, dad, husband, wife and children. If you had to waste effort changing their principles and opinions, these were the only few who were worth your energy. All others were mere variables in your life’s equation. Sense indeed!

That is some serious deep stuff, bro! I see the halo of enlightenment around your head. ” Scotch 

Day 5: Of communications, miscommunications and Bulimia

Communication

We had a productive two hours with this gentleman, independent research reviewer at the University. He was definitely able to set himself apart from the canned academia that I see in the college and was able to bring in a research vocabulary that was different from the masses too. While a lot of what he suggested was simply repackaging the same old wine, he reaffirmed my belief that a smart talker can make even a curse sound poetic.

A few things that I observed at the end of the session were:

  • Teachers, more than students, need to be taught about the basic etiquette of formal conversations. Cutting in when someone else is talking is uncool at every age. When your point has been heard and is being countered, listen! I’m sure that repeatedly stating your view point doesn’t make it the popular opinion.
  • It is always, always, good to accept your mistake the minute you realize you’ve made it. Go drink a sip of water and set things right. Almost always, the audience can know the exact moment when you realized your flaw: your eyes give you away.
  • Keep personal vendettas out of public forums. Nobody wants to hear or see you wash your dirty linen in a common learning space.
  • If you’re quoting books and authors, you better know more than just one. Going back to the same one over and over again doesn’t prove much about the depth of your knowledge: not even if that one book were the Bible.
  • A degree doesn’t define your true caliber. When I see M. Phil and Ph.D scholars attend such learning workshops in silence, with not a question asked or a point countered, I wonder if they are already all-knowing or if the degree were just a farce.
  • The smart and awesome ones are always taken first. 🙂

Miscommunications

The junior MA class is a place I do not want to be in right now. I am confident that being a Master’s class of three is better bet than a Master’s class of 12 lost in a group of 40 Bachelor’s. That’s probably a scene that I would have quit and left soon enough. Destiny set me up right and I dint have that choice to worry about.

But I worry about the current batch. So do some of them. I wanted to talk to them about it, as a group, and also fold in an informal freshers lunch into it. A and I went to our designated location at the designated time and found not one of them. We waited for 15 minutes and left feeling cheated. We resolved not to expend any more of our energies on them, for it was their battle to fight and not ours.

We walked back up to the department and a bunch of the juniors came running, exhausted, wondering why we stood them up. Turns out they waited for us at a concrete park with some pebbles, while we waited for them at the pebbles park with some concrete. Ha! Meeting postponed to Monday.

Bulimia

All that is OK, but why am I behaving like the bulimic supermodel? I love to eat it all, but puke that and half the garden out immediately so that it doesn’t show on my waist. 

No pictures today, please” Scotch. 

That’s all you get on sick day.