Monday, October 8, 2012

The Season of Internals

It's the time of the year when students and staff negotiate a lot.  Students try convincing us one way and we, on our part get caught between the system and the students.  A time for internal assessments.  Many will say, what is there to negotiate.  'They will get what they deserve'.

I don't know how one feels when one's kid comes up and tells, 'Yes, I didn't try hard enough.  But just consider this time'.  Sometimes, I feel torn between looking at a student as an adult who should have realized what his actions will result in and listened when I have informed about the internal calculation in the beginning of the semester and looking at him as just a kid with all the quirks and playfulness only a kid can have.  No, I am not justifying his actions.  I am wondering about the thin line and how to balance between the two.

The system of internal calculation is good, given that information is provided in advance of the method followed for calculation.  Abroad, at 16, a kid learns to manage his/her own life.  They take responsibility and parents also give them that space.  In India, even at 25, a grown up is treated like a kid.  We still report to his parents that he is not coming properly to class, is playful and what not and parents expect the same.  In our culture, parents are still responsible for their kids which has its pros and cons given the different world we live in today.  So, I wonder if they learn what is taking responsibility for one's life and actions till they probably land on a job in a new place and having to manage their life.

Students who pass out and come back a year later are different.  They grow up.  The last instance was meeting one of Arun's friends son who was a student the first time I spoke to him and a year later had worked in an organization.  He had so much more confidence.  Of course he retained his boyishness but also had the look of responsibility and spoke with conviction which was not there earlier.  I didn't realize it at first.  I kept looking at him and wondering what was different from last time.  On the way home, it was Arun who told me, 'He has transformed from a boy to a man.  He is so much more confident, knows what he wants and where he wants to be'.  No, his parents are not those who take his decisions.  They are very level headed people who I think gave him his space when he was a student too.  Still, the transformation.

So, a boy/girl in college continues to be a kid who thinks he can ask his teachers for consideration just like he/she will ask parents.  The only way around is for both parents and teachers to help him grow up.  To help him understand that when he turns 18, it just does not mean he is an adult and hence has the licence to drive bikes and cars as well as vote, but also take responsibility for actions that affect his life.

Besides, the students I meet today are a different lot from kids at our time.  In my class also I had friends who had problems, financial and otherwise.  The number was ofcourse lesser.  Today, we find more of such cases.  In our time, most of our moms were homemakers and hence we had someone to fall back on.  Today, with cost of living so high, both parents have to work to make ends meet, unless ofcourse one is rich.  So, family time is less.  Also, students from rural backgrounds have issues of adjusting to the urban setup where language, way of life and loss of home becomes a huge factor along with the responsibility of somehow succeeding, meeting expectations and paying off loans.

Then ofcourse, there is this factor that kids today are so much more sensitive compared to our generation.  Given most of them  are a single child, they get pampered and most of their whims and fancies are met at home.  Also, peer pressure is so much more.  They don't understand terms like integrity and meeting one's goals with respect to the job.  However, they know their goals for fun and everything else.

We are a nation in transition, I believe.  And each of us are in the same state.  This generation has more pressure than us.  They are the ones technology has touched, who have been influenced by TV and fast life, who are expected to earn in lakhs from the day they pass out, unlike us who could take our own time to grow.

So, I wonder what to do especially when a student falters once despite doing well in all other aspects during a course.  Ofcourse, no marks for not trying - there is no two ways about that.  I have always believed that trying is important than actual results given that each of us are built differently.  My dad always said, 'Try - if it comes your way great.  If it doesn't, you atleast know it was not for want of you trying'.  And due to this, many a time, I give more value to the underdog who has tried hard than the student who has the talent and capability giving in an average output.  This gives rise to questions from students again and I tell them to go beyond average for they are more than average giving rise to the line 'Your are expecting too much from us'.  I tell them, 'I do. I expect you to rise high, to go beyond, to aim for the stars, to go where your dreams go and be happy, realize your potential.  For I know what you are capable off'.  Then I wonder, 'Am I adding to the pressures they already have in life ?'  It's so confusing sometimes and I wonder, I wonder a lot.

So, it is that time of the year when I have to take a decision where my heart says one thing and my brain the other.  And I try to follow my heart where I can.  Don't know if I am right but that is the way.

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