Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mid-Sem. Exam. Week

Rest is making a shift to another work. - Swami Swarupananda (Babamoni - Link of pics)

Visiting Pondicherry and not having a glimpse of sea or Auroville or museum! The morning at Chennai, afternoon at Delhi and evening at Kolkata - well, this is when we are enjoying a break :-) when the students are occupied with mid-sem. exam.

Day long meeting, hectic schedule, long hours on travel from one part of the country to the other part, sleep deprivation - all take back seat when you find that your work, the effort you have put behind in the preparation, getting appreciated....and you get opportunities to contribute more.

The Dreamliner flight on AI 430 from Chennai to Delhi was of course a sweet surprise. The look and feel was world class. More surprise was on store to find a four year old wonder at Delhi airport. I knew the father, an ex-student, an IIT-IIM, would be there in spite of my advice not to take trouble during his office hour. He is in-charge of supply-chain management of a big MNC food chain, reminded him of his responsibility and asked him not to get emotional. But I failed! Didn't expect the kid there who looked and talked like the mother. The mother too had been an ex-student, an HR professional now, was at Mumbai during the day for delivering a talk at TISS. Previous evening, it was she who called to thank for the little help I could offer on her preparation of this talk. And they found that I was paying a short visit to Delhi.

Invigilation duty for the exam., discharging administrative responsibilities of various kind, getting feedback from publisher at India as well as USA (looking for simultaneous launch by both US and Indian arm) on sample chapter of the new text book, single authored - both inspiration and perspiration :-), receiving the proofs of all the chapters for newer edition of an earlier title .... eventful week.

Conducted a mid-sem feedback exercise from students for the theory course following standard procedure. A total of 102 students participated. Ninety percent of them were appreciative of the effort. About 10 percent did not find it that useful. At places, the weakness pointed out by this 10 percent was termed as strength by members of the other group!!! Much to the disappointment of those who discourages students from attending classes and enjoy their college life :-) more than ninety percent opined that attending the class was essential. Half of this population (> 45 %) told that it is 'highly essential'.

I end this post with what I wanted to be when I stand between young students and a subject. The following was written by few students in the feedback. The day when I shall be able to present myself as both friendly and strict / serious (strictness for the benefit of the students and the academic environment / ecosystem; being talented is not enough, discipline and purpose are key), to all and not just a few, I can consider myself worthy enough to be called a teacher and not one who is making a career out of academic engagement.

"Highly interactive, .... who is really friendly with students, yet strict when it comes to academics, relevance and good examples to recent technologies. / Strong background in subject, interactive, respects student idea and thoughts / Stimulating, stress on self-thinking, real-life examples / Teacher is highly motivated, his motivation is reflected in the way he teaches. Encourages students, involves. / Competitive environment in class, students are encouraged to ask questions / The teaching method encourages us to think and explore more. / Friendly environment, helpful, forwards academic and non-academic matters, good subject knowledge, excellent teacher."

Three students in the feedback asked for break / rest when there is a double lecture (110 minutes). While discussing this feedback in the class and how I am going to address the suggestions offered by the students, in rest of the semester, I used the quote of Swami Swarupananda given in the beginning of the post. He, a Karmayogi, (check picks here) told in Bengali - Karyantare jaoai Bishram. That our students are up to the task can be seen from mail given below. The work was completely optional at student end, given that it is exam. week. In fact, I told them not to worry about this when exam. for theory subjects are going on.

From: XYZ
Date: Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 6:47 PM
Subject: [NSS] Monthly Report - September

Dear Sir,

The last of the 4 back-to-back exams I have this week will be tomorrow (i.e. THU). My next and last exam will be on Monday. In the interim would it be possible to collect the material for the monthly report sometime on Thursday or Friday so I may complete it before the weekend, thus ensuring neither a delay nor hampering of my studies? I can bring a pen drive or my laptop any time.

Yours respectfully,

Though I was out of station, thanks to my research students in the lab., the material was handed over. The report was prepared and mailed to ministry officials this morning before the month-end, as desired.

Proud to be a part of this team! Thank you all.

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