By Dr. Vidya Shankar Shetty
Director-Higher Education, Presidency Group of Institutions
With limited freedom given to the highest authority on certain matters of discipline and etiquette in colleges today, faculty feel challenged about curriculum and delivery and consider it taboo to check a student in the lecture hall for crossing certain norms of expected behavior while a session is in progress...This is most of the time taken to be a weakness with a faculty and students grow unruly in the lecture hall and the campus. A higher pitch results in confrontation and a punitive decision calls for a protest and threat. Sadly our education system has not invested much or given importance to building this aspect of a teacher's role.
Faculty are appalled by the reaction of students to even a mild admonishing in class, a check on the behavior of a grown up student has eyebrows raised and with a question on the face that reads: what is the harm if I hold the hand of the girl and walk through the corridors or there is a hand that rests on the shoulders of a boy student in the classroom. Faculty is left with very little authority to deal decisively with bad behavior in class or within academic domains of the campus. A rule in the handbook would only be read as "behavior has to be modest and conformity to rules of the college a must.." but what is modest and what is not accepted is not distinctly spelt and if there is an attempt to do so, it is read between the lines to be interpreted the way it should be individually. Teacher training and education has very little emphasis on this subject of class management and focus on how campus etiquette and accepted behavior.
All of us would agree that just a minority sometimes even one student can create a lot of serious disruptions in class. Such students cause misery to the rest of them in class who are disciplined and all the while the energy of the faculty is spent on reforming that one disruption caused. We need to spend some time and read the cases of the numbers of physical assaults on teachers from school to college to University. The numbers have drastically risen over the years.
It is vital that we restore the authority of Teachers and Principals. It is also crucial that we protect our teachers and Principals from false allegations at times from students and society. Without good discipline and appropriate support from all stakeholders we will very soon lose out on good teachers or good candidates who would have otherwise entered the profession of teaching. Good discipline is a must inside the classroom without which teachers cannot teach.
Let us look at sharing thoughts and reading and organizing workshops and sessions that focus on building on authority of teachers the healthy way, strengthening their powers to work with students of all age groups and with those who have behavior concerns and share effective ways of using reasonable force wherever necessary to work with students at large.
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