For centuries, teachers across the educational horizon have graded students whether with a genuine concern for their future and in a bid to correct their mistakes or out of masochistic tendencies to enjoy the rat race that created insomniacs out of children or slackers who stopped bothering altogether.
Marks and grades have been used as tools to create fear in children and compel them to complete unpleasant tasks such as studying. If the unpleasantness associated with studying came as a result of the fear of grades or was inherent all along, we can never say for sure.
But it is inarguable that children have been studying for a long while and only slogging to get better grades than they did previously. Take away this reinforcement that acts as a currency to the college admission extravaganza and voila!
You have carefree students who do not wish to spend all their time locked indoors with dull books in their hands cramming for some inconsequential test that shall lead to complete formatting of their memories post that test. Marks and grades have accomplished so much, and yet they haven’t been utilised to their maximum potential.
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Teachers, especially in the Government-run institutions across India, tend to become casual regarding their duties once they have been hired at a permanent position. This is a complete let-down to their position of power. They have the power of sculpting the country’s future.
Students from all backgrounds come to schools and colleges with significant challenges, and look up to teachers to gain knowledge within the premises of the institution.
However, with increasing slack on the part of teachers, it has become routine for the students to attend their primary source of education such as their school or college and then go to a subsidiary coaching institute where they pay hand over fist to gain some real knowledge. This is an added expense to an already tight budget prevailing within many middle-class households.
Many other times, students complain that incompetent teachers are hired who only waste precious time and teach little to nothing to the students. They also give wrong information regarding the nitty-gritty of their subject, which acts as an added setback for students wishing to improve their prospects in jobs and competitive exams.
Our country is the land which has produced leaders like Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who have always advised that the path to success and upliftment goes through education and yet, here we are battling with the lack of proper human resources in education. One generation of slackers spoils the next and so on. This has to end, or it will harbinger the end of our ancient civilisation of erudition.
The best way to do this is to allow each teacher to retain their job only if the students say that she/he is putting some effort into their position. The student can evaluate the dedication, if not knowledge, of the teacher in question. That way, teachers will be on their tenterhooks to ensure their teaching standards are up to the mark (pun intended).
Before being hired, the teacher can also go through a trial class so that the students can see if they like the teaching method of the candidate. That way, there will be fewer chances of students being dissatisfied with their teachers.
Arguments against this Method
Some arguments against this system come up during debates. Foremost among them is the case that children are careless and fickle-minded. They take everything in jest and cannot be left to decide something as serious as recruitment, which is a precedent for reducing an individual’s problem of unemployment.
The next opinion is that India is a land where the teacher or “guru” is a revered figure, placed even above God. This shall be demeaning to their position if they are evaluated by the students who are placed under their care and guidance. This in unthought-of in our country where the pupil will always be subordinate to his preceptor.
The traditions of our country do not allow this. The third logic is that children tend to have an affinity for the teachers with a mild temperament and a free hand when it comes to marks. Grading such a teacher well, even though he/she may be detrimental to their growth, can be the immediate result of such an exercise. Strict, gruff and well-meaning disciplinarians may face the axe when students come to grading their efforts.
Fourth is the all-pervading menace of corruption. Schools and colleges are not strangers to this practice, and at the smallest scale, a teacher may bribe the students with the lure of good marks if he wishes to bargain the same with them.
All these reasons have made the administration in various institutions wary of introducing this measure into their system for maintaining the quality of the teaching standards.
Arguments in Favour
To counter the first arguments, children might be immature, but this is their foray into the free setup. If they are unhappy with the teaching services being provided to them, they should have a say and be able to communicate with their higher authorities. Grades and marks are the scientific methods to register their displeasure with the authorities, just as votes signify the people’s opinion in a democracy.
Next comes the problem of our age-old traditions and the guru above God. This is the cornerstone of our moral and pedantic society. However, changing times call for changing measures. The same methods cannot be applied to every era. The teachers in ancient India have learned sages who felt it their duty before God to teach their disciples to the best of their ability.
Teaching, in the modern day, is only a money-making profession. It isn’t the holy duty of the teacher to teach the student. They do it only so that they can earn their daily bread. This isn’t true for every teacher; however, the rising trend of this materialistic norm has compelled the authorities to think of such dynamic measures.
The third reasoning is the students’ bias towards the teachers who fulfil their immediate wants of marks and freedom. This is a significant lacuna of this method. However, this can be balanced out by supplementing the students’ verdict with the opinions of some senior teachers and the principal. Higher authorities can check for themselves and verify the aptitude of all the teachers before they conclude.
The final argument is the malice that has been leeching onto sanctimonious places like schools and colleges-corruption. Teachers sealing deals with students to retain their jobs are the worst kind of mentor-ship for these future administrators. Students have to be made aware of the sort of conduct that is expected out of them, and they should know that any actions to the contrary will be met with severe consequences.
The same should apply to the teachers. There should be no talk of grading and feedback’s for teachers during the classes. However, this method is sure to be bypassed by our smart generations through subterfuge. Herein the authorities have to cross-check the results of the feedback by conducting surprise inspections in the classes.
If the teacher is genuinely, and students understand what they have taught, a few questions put before them will not go unanswered. This will prove the mettle of the teacher and give them no room to escape.
These days have stirred the rake, which has led to the burning question of whether students should be grading their teachers or not. The idea is simple and democratic; its implementation, however, needs work. Stringent measures have to be taken to ensure that the process is foolproof.
Teachers should also not be made to feel like servants or slaves at the command of the students. Punishing the students or reprimanding them should not feel like a task that endures them digging their own grave.
This process does not intend to be the whole sole measure to ascertain the jobs of teachers. But it should be one among the many reviews done to ensure that the lackadaisical attitude among teachers does not set in.
Apart from this, teachers should also have a say in why students might be grading them poorly, and superiors should pay surprise visits during their lectures to ensure they have a fair chance of proving their aptitude for pedagogy.
This method is arguably one of the more effective means to keep teachers in check. Performance reviews are a routine in the corporate environment. So, keeping in mind the deteriorating standard of teaching in the country, we have to resort to such means so that the students availing their service can give ideas on the improvement of their teaching style.
India stands at a dismal rank of 92 out of 145 countries in the world education rankings of 2018. We have the human resource, which is only waiting to be polished. Education has to take priority and improve if we see any dreams of coming close to the world superpowers in various fields.
This is an arduous and uphill task, and children of this country have to be made aware of the kind of power they possess if they are educated. This can come only If we make them a part of the process and show them how much their opinions and ideas are valued.
It is time we gave them their due and taught them through example instead of books or stories that create only ephemeral impressions on their hyperactive minds. Children or the youth both possess the power to bring change and the change starts right from school. This is how students will move beyond “I” to empower the “us”.