Students entering a university come from diverse families, cultures and backgrounds. But no matter where their roots lie, a common problem faced by students in every university is a profound sense of fear about their teacher’s perception of them and their grades.
Forming opinions about people and basing our judgement upon these preconceived notions is a fairly common human trait, but such subjectiveness on part of teachers and university administrations can have far reaching effects on a student’s grades, as well as career. A fear that he or she would be graded on the basis of a teacher’s or an administrative official’s personal like and dislike leaves a student vulnerable and fearful. And once this fear takes root, it eats away any and all signs of efficacy, engagement and motivation in most pupils, affecting both learning and academic performance.
It is not uncommon – or unjustified – for students to sometimes feel that a certain teacher is not doing the best job of imparting knowledge. Besides teaching, students could also find faults with a teacher’s behaviour. In such a case, a merit-based complaint against such a teacher to the administration will be considered a normal action in most of the civilised world and considered accordingly. However, a similar complaint in Pakistan by a student is usually considered an act of war by the instructor, and oft regarded as ‘personal targeting’. Although the teachers in such cases go off the hook pretty easily, the same is not the case for the student/s who lodge the complaint. In most instances, vindictive behaviour on part of the teacher follows, ultimately culminating in the complainant ending up with grades lower than deserved or merited.
Such has become the surety of vengeful actions by reported faculty members that most students opt for the path of silence and quiet suffering to make it through the course with safety, instead of speaking up for what is right and being penalised for the same. Besides teaching quality, students also face problems regarding university infrastructure, hostel problems and food quality in canteens. But as in case of teachers, students often do not complain to avoid being at the receiving end of the administration’s bitterness.
So what is the root of this fear? It can be attributed to a number of reasons, but the most important one is a social culture that considers dissent a war chant, rather than a plea to improve things. It is one thing to be respectful of elders, as our norms direct us to, but pointing out follies of elders or raising questions in no way amounts to disrespect. But it does, as foretold by Faiz Ahmad Faiz:
“Nisar main teri galiyon kay aey vatan kay jahan, chali hai rasm kay koī na sar utha kay chale”
This fear has numerous negative repercussions for its subjects, such as continued stress, depression, frustration and inability to focus while learning. When teacher’s rebuff questions harshly and demeaningly, they not only shatter a student’s confidence to seek help but also blow out the spark of curiosity and learning, leading to frustration and a lost interest in studies.
To sum it up, teachers can play an important role in eliminating or at least lessening the effects of such fears and feelings in students. Instructors can and should create an inquisitive, friendly environment in the class and should appreciate or reward good questions. Teachers should encourage debates and discussions in class to raise the confidence of students, besides engaging in dialogue with students about their fears and concerns. Questioning should be encouraged and so should be logical dissent, so that our coming generation is full of people with a drive to know and explore more, rather than a population of stressed, fearful individuals that are too afraid to stand up for what is right.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine .