My presentation at Teacher Training and Capacity Building Workshop for Foundation English, organized by Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, 21 Nov 2011
1. Dr. Sachin Ketkar Associate Professor of English Department of English,Faculty of Arts The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda Vadodara
I want tocongratulateall university and college teachers at this historic moment oftransitionfrom the older annual system of teacher-centric paradigm of teaching to the learner-centric continuous-evaluation paradigm of education in Gujarat.
I also want tothankall the participants for being here. Iappreciate you commitmentto your profession and the desire to make a difference.
Two stonecutters, two Sachins were cutting stones on the street. One was the older Sachin who appeared disillusioned and cynical about his job. The work of breaking the stone was a huge burden for him.
The other Sachin, a younger one was doing the same thing, breaking a big stone, appeared fulfilled and exciteddoing the same thing.
A passer-by asked the first one, the older Sachin, why are you so depressed, disillusioned and cynical about your work?
He replied, I am breaking this hard stone in terrible heat. What else do you expect me to be? and continued breaking the stone.
The passer-by asked the same question to the younger Sachin, who was doing the same job, but was excited and enthusiastic about it.
The second Sachin replied, Well, I am building the first multi-specialty hospital in my town. People in my family had to be rushed to the near-by city during crises. My children and their children will have no such problems. I am creating better life for my family and children and also your family and your children.
The older Sachin did not shirk his responsibilities. He delivered all his lecturessincerelyand did all other duties, but he wasdissatisfiedwith his job.
He thought what he was doing wasfutileand the mostof his students and his colleagues were unmotivated and uninterestedin what they were doing.
He thought he was contributingonly to one or two percent of the student 'masses , while rest of them did not bother about their studies.
The older Sachin saw most of his fellow teachers and the system of higher education -especially the humanities-as largely mediocre, corrupt and a burden to society. He thought it was a white elephant and the government would invariably close down the faculties of Arts at some point in future, as the focus shifted from grant-in-aid system to self-finance system.
The older Sachin thought nothing could done about the education system in India. It was going down-hill. He also felt insecure about his own financial future.
Though he pretended to be nice and scholarly, he was distanced from his students and colleagues. He had no close friends and no bond with his students. He thought he was fated to live such a life. He was a bitter, cynical and resigned loner.
While participating in powerful training programs offered byLandmark Education , he could identify thethe real source of his dissatisfaction, loneliness and insecurities as a teacher, researcher and as a member of his family.
He recognized that hewas not breakinghard stones, butactually creatinghospitals, temples and universities for people in his life and for the entire society.He was actually creating future forsociety.
He realized that he was not merely giving knowledge (knowledge as concepts and ideas)-to large masses of unmotivated youngsters,but he had the opportunity to develop abilitiesof leaders of future, parents, homemakers, teachers and politicians of future.
As he had an opportunity to empower and enable leaders of the future, he himself was a leader in his own right .
I saw that the college teachers, especially of humanities and languages , were not expendable clerks in the new globalized culture dependent on techno-mania and the liberal capitalism,but teachers who create teacherswho would teach the children of MBAs , MCAs , technocrats or business tycoons and people who were neglecting humanities were depriving their own children.
In the classroom, where I was earlier merely distributing gyaan a la Murari Bapu by simplifying and spoon-feeding predigested content, or instead of trying toimpressthe students with my wit and wisdom(?) in order to be popular , I now started making studentsengage and read texts on their ownso asto developtheirown abilities and faculties .The students reported a shift in their performance.
After my outlook to life and my profession transformed ,I started relating to the students as leaders of future and the teachers not as mediocre and unmotivated beasts of burden but as leaders who had an opportunity to create leadership and create society of future, hence as leaders in their own right.
It is inside of this new context that I generated for myself, a new future that I created, thatI invite you to look at CBCS as an opportunity to reinvent our relationship to ourselves, students and to our profession . It is inside this context that I look at the actual practice of teaching in the classroom. My classroom methods would be effective if they are consistent with the new vision I generated.
Out of this paradigm shift, I formed Netrutva, an open community of teachers and everyonewho wanted to make a difference to education system and the society. In its online avatar on Facebook, it is a virtual community with more than 1500 members who discuss issues like research, NAAC creditation, cbcs, classroom interaction, examination reforms, creativity in classroom,State- Private partnership in education and so on.
Netrutva is neither an organization nor an association, but a vision of Humanities andhuman society in contemporary times. In the post-human era, where major thinkers of the twentieth century have sharply critiqued the philosophical basis of humanism, progress and knowledge, and the global forces of technology and market are rapidly altering not only the nature of knowledge but also the very experience and meaning of being human,Netrutvaholds that it is the privilege and an opportunity for the humanities and arts to make sense of this mutation and provide direction to our society.
While technology and market are powerful engines of the society today, humanities will play the role of GPS or Global Positioning System for the society on the move. Netrutva holds that the present crisis before the humanities is actually an opportunity to transform itself and the society . It views humanities as the leader who provide leaders to society and play a major role in rewriting the future of human beings .
To empower and enable the teachers of the Faculty of Arts in dealing with the challenges and issues of the twenty first century and
to recognize themselves as leaders who contribute to the society and make difference in the lives of others.
To create a community of teachers who are interested in the personal and professional lives of their students and fellow teachers with the aim of contributing and making a difference in their lives.
To create team spirit in teachers so that they know that in spite of personal, intellectual and ideological differences, they can win only and only if their teammates win.
To create a community /ities of teachers to support to the teachers of Faculty of Arts in their day to day challenges on the campus and in the society as a community.
Carry out activities which fulfill the objectives of the community such as organize study groups, seminars, workshops, projects and group activities on classroom methodology, research methodology, information technology, counseling, wider social issues and so on.
Regular meetings to address common challenges and issues faced by the teachers of Faculty of Arts as a community and take appropriate collective action.
To create online communities and forums for the teachers of Arts to come together, deliberate upon common challenges and issues and support each other in possible ways.
I invite you all to join Netrutva and participate in a nation-wide movement to transform higher education and humanities .
I invite feedback and suggestions from everyone present to make our organization more effective and relevant.