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Teachers: Popular versus Good / Students: Smart versus wise

popular teacher, good teacher, academic competence

It is usually assumed that teachers who are most popular among their students are good at teaching, and students who score high in exams are good at study. This may be true in some cases but not always. This article is an effort to highlight the differences between a popular teacher and a good teacher, as well as those between a smart student and a wise student.

A large number of academic institutes rely on students’ feedback on a teacher to evaluate his/her competence. This method though widely accepted is highly error-prone, and requires a considerable degree of caution in data analysis. While writing feedback on a teacher, students not only consider his/her academic competence but they also think of many other non-academic factors viz. personality, experience, contacts in peer institutes/industry, etc. In fact such feedbacks are more likely to reflect a teacher’s relations with his/her students rather than teaching ability and academic competence. Say for example, a teacher who is totally committed to his job and possesses sufficient depth of knowledge, but at the same time strict on discipline and an ardent believer of quality assessment during examinations, what are the chances of him being rated as a popular one? Certainly not much. On the other side consider another teacher who may not be fully competent in academic terms, but is indifferent to discipline and gives high grades easily to all students irrespective of their performance and merit, there is a high probability of him being rated as a popular one. Such ‘popular’ ones can easily become recipient of ‘Best Teacher Award’, despite the fact that they are loyal neither to their duty nor to their institute.

On the similar lines when gold medals are to be awarded by the universities to students for their academic excellence, most influencing factor to be considered is their grade or percentage obtained during exams. We all are aware of the limitations of the written exams with respect to differentiate between students having good memory and students who really study hard and earn knowledge in its real sense. Smart students are well aware of these things and they are also clever enough to be in good books of ‘popular’ teachers. This trait of receiving favour from ‘popular’ teachers is normally absent from wise students who are hard-working and sincere but not ‘smart’.

Smart students are quick in learning how to exploit ‘unionbaji’ in achieving their vested interests. Their smart trick of unionbaji in many cases receives support from ‘popular’ teachers. Here one must realize the difference between ‘unity’ and ‘unionbaji’, as the former is practiced for some constructive purpose (viz. a group of students helping each other in preparation of competitive exams), whereas the latter always for some negative purpose. To the misfortune of academics believers of unity and good teaching-learning process are far less in number than those of unionbaji. Whenever a good academician raises his voice against such ‘smart’ and ‘popular’ spoilers of academics, he is bound to face stiff and fierce resistance.

Let us accept the challenge of protecting the academic excellence from being ruined at the ‘smart’ hands of ‘popular’ minds. Let us learn to respect the ones who are ‘good’ and ‘wise’. Let us rate the disciplined and hard-working much above the ones finding short-cuts.
Published: 2009-09-27
Author: vijay kothari

About the author or the publisher
I am a microbiologist, acting as an Assistant Professor in Science with Nirma University. My current research is focused on natural products.

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