A student replies…

Posted: January 13, 2013 in journalism, students
Tags: ,

Reproducing the entire reply from Nandan Sharalaya, to my earlier blog post https://mohansblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/the-kids-are-bored-how-do-i-un-bore-them/

Dear Sir,

I just thought I’ll share 4 thoughts with you on your latest blog post because you were on of my favorite teachers in SIMC without any doubt!!!!

So I just thought I’ll put in a few points but please don’t get me wrong at all. I was reading this really negative comment on the blog and because I hate being negative and personally believe there’s a solution to absolutely everything, I thought I’ll share with you 4 points as a personalized message and not leave it as a comment. Most of it I am guessing you are already following or completely get but I really wanted to help in some way. Forgive the typos!

1. In SIMC and Pune, the system is messed up genuinely. Not blaming the college, just the whole structure. I come from a very simple but very well to do middle class family in Bangalore. My dad was the M.D of Coke in West Africa so I lived all my life in Nigeria except 12th grade which I did in Chennai but we were always very into our culture and ethos etc. And I liked that so when I came to SIMC (young, simple guy) I got a huge culture shock. The freedom and the present day lifestyle really hit me hard. But there were things I thought then that I must do and I drew a line then and there. I promised myself I would never touch alcohol, never try cigs/weed etc etc and live a very simple life, do my shit and be happy. I have stuck with that till this day. I still don’t know how alcohol tastes. The point I am trying to make is that in Symbi, everyone just gets lost in everything else apart from what’s essentially required. You will never have a focused, inspired class because half are getting rid of hangovers and the rest have other issues to think about/stress (no mums food, relationship issues, money etc). All of this exists everywhere but the truth is, I think it’s just a lot more in Symbi. As a professor, you can’t do much about this but in such a disadvantaged situation, you can’t be a normal professor. You really have to try super hard to get things going if you really want to.

2. Talking of super professor, I still vividly remember my first class of yours in the first year. I am from a science background and so when I am suddenly thrown in Pune attending random lectures, I am bloody fascinated. And you absolutely added to that experience. You were a live wire then with all the stuff you said and how you connected most of your experiences. The students were genuinely fascinated. People discussed your lectures in the canteen etc. That whole first year, I still remember many of friends rating you a 10 on 10. In the 2nd year however, everyone got a little used to you and suddenly I felt the interest quotient/ stories reduced a little, the surprise factor in you class had reduced, your enthusiasm seemed much lesser so this time around you lost all those guys having a hangover and you had the attention of only the few of us in the first few rows. Being a professor is damn hard and I think one of the most prominent ways in which you could get back to un-boring the students is just by being that live wire wow professor in my first semester!!

3. You have probably been told this so many times by now but unfortunately seem to students associate the word cynicism with you. I have no issues. In fact I like your cynicism. I even used your style many a times when speaking/debating. (You remember how I once took permission in 2nd yr to take one of your classes and we had this super intense discussion on the Islam terror and the whole phobia that the world seems to have? that class was really well received and was a super debate.) So I was saying eventually by the end of 2nd or 3rd year a lot of students in my class began to think you had nothing positive about the world/industry. I even read your previous post where you perfectly justified your point of view. In the sense, though everything you said was the absolute reality, consciously no one wanted to ever connect with it. Like bad news. You want to delay hearing or feeling it as much as possible. And I think its simple human psychology to not respond to that kind of stimulus. If I was to suggest, I think it would be great if you came in every class you took and started off your lecture emphasizing what a brilliant profession this is and how the students are superbly killer guys. Because then suddenly you have people wanting to listen and after that whatever message you want to send across suddenly seems to be taken more easily. This worked with me a lot with most of professors. For e.g I still remember how I wasn’t so much interested in the multimedia module Ramesh Menon Sir was taking and then suddenly he just started talking about how his father and him got into good terms after so many years when he won the Ramnath Goenka award. His father hated the fact that he took journalism but 20 yrs later, he was proud of him. Unknowingly, I just absorbed every other complicated shit he said about multimedia after that story/thought.

4. Last suggestion. I think because this course is really open, the professors who come here really need to ensure that they use every possible intervention mechanism to engage the student in one class/period. To put it more simply, I think the class becomes more lively when you engage a lot more senses. For e.g let say you are talking about something as simple as the profile of a reporter. I would ideally first talk about it for 15 minutes, open questions for 5 minutes, Play a video for another 15 minutes, take questions for 5 more minutes, then circulate a few leaflets/printout to read in class itself for 5 minutes on the same topic, then probably get a reporter or show pictures of your life, a radio clipping/joke/meme/poster, workshop type closed group discussions etc in an incentive based mechanism. Essentially just try and drive the same point through various mediums of expression. In this process you are not giving the student time to zone out or just get used to one thing. I suggest its important to fill too many mediums/processes to drive forward a simple point. And whenever someone did that to me, I grasped better and I concentrated harder.

You could also try asking yourself every class you conduct what incentive could you provide that would get things going?! I did 6 debates in the last year winning all of them and that gave me close to 1 lakh rupees prize money in just 2 months. I am no passionate debater, I only went coz there was money and my father refused to buy me a dog and a keyboard which I eventually bought! That was my incentive! Similarly Sana took this nice lecture in first sem for which you got her home made chocolates! Now suddenly, whoever took a lecture next time/presented in front of the class put some josh not because they wanted home made chocolates. It just left you that something was going to come! And all of this really doesn’t need to have any monetary connection. Like, an opportunity to spend the whole day with you in Sakaal office for whoever did well/ a byline somewhere/ a mention in your blog/ i mean anything under the sun!!!

I really meant to say everything in very good spirits so if I have said anything wrong it has been absolutely unintentional!

Cheers Sir! Was great meeting you at the convocation!

Nandan

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