Never in my long teaching career had I imagined, in wildest of my dreams, that I would have to police the class one day!
There are some unspoken rules of the class that everyone understands to be followed without someone having the need to speak explicitly about them. If a teacher has to tell a class of grown up students as to how they should conduct themselves in class, it means either they come to us with no such previous training, which I find difficult to believe keeping in view their twelve years of schooling, or they feel so much freedom in the college as professional students that all the “do’s and don’t” of the class do not apply to them. I had always been happy that despite my being a very lenient teacher, discipline was something that I had never to force down in my class. But this confidence or rather overconfidence has slowly being jeopardized by some incidents in the class that have made we reassess my role as a teacher.
Of late, a new trend has been observed in the class, of speaking proxy for some absent students. I understand that the fear of not being permitted to sit in the examination would make even the most honest of the student to indulge in something unethical but to see it become a regular feature is something that I find disturbing. The worst part is that once caught in the act, they would not stop but still go ahead with it and sometimes with added vigour! Remorse is a word that seems to be absent from the dictionary of present day students.
I wonder at times, if this could happen in a professional Institute where the system of internal assessment and sessional always gives control in the hands of a teacher to discipline the offenders, what would happen in other teaching Institutes? And it was always by default that the students of a professional College would have to be well behaved albeit a forced well behave that they had to put on!
But over some years, a degradation in values among students, has become a regular feature, much to the discomfort of teachers like me who always have been guided by the unfailing faith in intrinsic goodness of human nature. I cannot bring myself to believe that an eighteen or nineteen years old student could be beyond redemption and would always try to find something good and appreciable even in students outrightly rejected by others as gone cases. But these days when I found myself, too, to question the situation from the point of beyond repair, I became concerned, rather extremely worried.
It was a stray case of proxies that caught my attention in the beginning, then a few jarring sounds made to distract the class. I wonder what is achieved by all this? It doesn’t help the disturbing student in the least and rather spoils the ambience of whole of the class. I used to feel bad when I would catch hold of someone speaking someone’s proxy but these days I have stopped reacting and have become indifferent to it as the incidence has increased so much that if I start catching them then when would I teach? Earlier I would be extra alert to catch the offender and found out that all my energy would be concentrated to find the offender and I would be left with very less to give to my lecture.
I started having serious doubts about the job profile that was expected of a teacher—whether to teach or to catch the culprits? Were we supposed to teach the students or to police their behaviour? I have started to believe that the day is not far off when the recruiting agencies for the teachers would be looking for certain traits in the prospective teachers that the law enforcing agencies look for in its employees! But as I am not al all interested to learn the traits of policing the class, I have become indifferent towards this growing trend. I understand that it signifies my failure but these days even the fear of failure doesn’t seem to influence my teaching as I have realized that there are many other ways to become a successful teacher!
This realization, dawned upon me, has made me placid and cool. And I allowed my students to speak proxies much to their joy!