Faculty Error

by Tejas Nair

I still remember that day. About six years ago, when my English teacher got diagnosed with the Big C. Or at least when she announced it to the principal of my school, requesting an indefinite leave. The news had “brought a blanket of gloom over us,” or at least those were the words used by the person who taught us Environmental Studies (EVS) as part of a stratagem in an attempt to jump higher in the hierarchy of faculty by showing how capable he, as well is, thus, substituting the poor, cancer-stricken sweetheart.

His request was rejected at once for his credentials proved his artifice wrong. I have only heard how the HR department had a rough time recruiting a suitable English teacher. It was a crucial faculty post because the school was preparing its first batch of 10th grade students, the final outcome of which would help it set a distinction among other few colleges in town. The criteria was so sharp, I was told, that even our History teacher (who had a unanimous backing from other staff except the EVS guy) was not allowed to replace her. Few weeks later, some rookie was attached to the post.

Few years later, the polytechnic I studied in also followed this criteria of: the professor will only teach the subject(s) he/she has majored in and/or has pedagogical know-how in.

But, it was when I entered a degree college that I learned how a professor is “forced” to teach almost all the subjects in the curriculum. (Not much) unlike in schools, degree colleges have different departments like Mechanical, Electronics, Computers, IT, Civil, Instrumentation, Chemical, Printing & Packaging, etc.. So, the number of professors is bigger. Talking about Jack of all subjects, I had this professor in my 5th semester of Electronics Engineering who taught Microprocessors and did it exceptionally well. Because there are 2 divisions for every class in our department, one more professor is required. No prizes for guessing, but for this other division, the person who took Microprocessors is a lady who majored in Mathematics only. Now, Microprocessors has some Math involved, but it is a totally different subject.

Come 6th semester, when we all expected the same professor to teach us Microprocessors, Part II, we were dumbfounded to receive the professor who had taught us Control Systems the previous semester. Control Systems is a semi-technical subject with much of it related to system concepts and analysis. Maybe, 5% of it is Maths. As a result, we all suffered. And the worst part is, even the professor looks heavily uncomfortable teaching something she has little or no or only bookish knowledge in. I had a chinwag with our Microprocessors, Part I professor later when he revealed how he has taught 4 different subjects in our department and 2 more in other departments since his joining in 2011. Now, all these subjects have Maths in it, but they are very different from each other. He laughs, “I should be awarded a dozen medals for this job I am doing; this job of sixpro-fessor and still being paid for a job of onepro-fessor. And you know, your class in-charge this semester is a threepro-fessor! She’s really climbing the ladder…”

Colleges don’t care anymore about how their students fare, they only care about the moolah. Since the reputation game is no longer valid and the benchmark is already set as to which college stands where, they have got into the real business for which they were built up in the first place: cash-making. University doesn’t have time to set out guidelines. They are busy botching up the question papers and report cards, banning professors, banning textbooks, decorating the deans/principals and playing with their own celebrity.

No wonder why students are joining coaching classes. Every single professor in my college hates those two c-words and why shouldn’t they? It is the error in the faculty that’s to be blamed. And it is not only my college, but every single college (in Mumbai) has the same idea. Students cannot risk their careers over this non-professional practice and thereby end up paying thousands more for these otherwise useless classes.

During the day of results, I see more students with backlogs than those with all-clear tags. What to blame? Faculty Error.
Coaching classes is a lucrative business. What to blame? Faculty Error.
The quality of teaching has taken a massive plunge. What to blame? Faculty Error.
This article was written. What to blame?