Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy Teacher's Day

Disclaimer: This post is entirely based on the author's experiences in life, learning. It is not intended at any single person, neither is it intended to insult or hurt anyone.

I abhor the lectures delivered in my medical college.

No, I love medicine. I don't have any problem listening. And I don't have ADHD.

But I simply don't gain anything from hours spent listening to lectures. I think I know why.

When I was in my school, my teachers used to tell stories. They used to ask questions. They used to ensure that my mind stayed involved in the subject.

In college, I'm lost.
There are no stories, there is no logic, there's no participation of students in the class.

In the beginning I thought it was my problem, it was students' disinterest, them not asking questions to teachers, them not interacting. But today is teacher's day, and so, I'm attributing the failure of lectures to teachers.

Here is how a typical lecture goes:
A teacher comes in to the class. He writes down the title of the topic he is discussing on that day. And then he goes on - definition, classification, importance, prevalence, usage, mechanism, details, examples...
Somewhere in between there might be two questions asked "what are the examples of...?"

Just the way textbooks are written.
A perfect validation of the title "Reader".

But, who wants the details? Who remembers them?
And, more importantly, if they are just going to narrate the textbook, why do we need them, teachers?

Here's how my dream lecture is:
A teacher comes in to the class. He asks the class a question that is at the core of the topic he is gonna teach. He narrates an incident that is totally related to the question and the topic. And then he asks us to think about the possible causes, or treatment, or mechanism.
He listens to our responses and classify them. He tells us the various things that scientists have come up with in answering the same questions. He lets us relate with the solutions. He analyzes our response and tells us where it fits and where it doesn't with actual science. He drops in important details in between. He makes us explore, and think, and absorb in that process. He shares insights and not details.

No. Too much to ask for. Actually, I don't have any right to ask for anything, because I'm neither an expert in medicine, nor one in teaching.

But I can say what I can see. I see PGs who sit with students late till night to answer fundamental questions. I see one or two professors who set the mind of everyone in the classroom thinking hard about the problem and the solutions.

But then, I have to regard the advice of that senior on the first night at my hostel: "See the fingers of your hand? Teachers are like that. Each one is different. Do not compare." He followed that up with a warning, about how my life can be ruined if I do.

But then, I'm not comparing. There's nothing to compare against. It's all bad, worse and ugly.

You learn yourself in a professional college, they say. Yes, I'm better of teaching myself. And thus the title of the post.

-written during a lecture


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