Friday, 27 January 2012

Inequitable distribution of teaching responsibility at IIT Roorkee - why?

More than a month has passed since the beginning of the new academic session
and I have been wondering about why some of my colleagues are saddled with a
teaching load of about 20 hours per week whereas other faculty members in the
same department have only 6 to 8 hours of teaching commitment. What is the
reason behind this disparity? I would greatly appreciate being enlightened on
this issue. Is there some kind of rule written somewhere that governs the
sharing of teaching responsibility? At least I am not aware of any such
rule/guideline nor is such a practice followed in other IITs. The number of
courses to be taught in a semester is a collective responsibility of the
department and should be shared equally amongst all faculty members.

In these times when we complain of shortage of faculty members, a simple
gesture of being considerate would go a long way to attract and retain the
young talent. We should be more welcoming to the new comers and try and make
the process of their assilimilation into the IIT Roorkee fraternity as pleasant
as possible. There are so many problems that a person has to deal with when
he/she relocates to a new place that the mere thought of teaching three
courses immediately on arrival is often enough to drive that prospective
talent miles away from Roorkee. Will it not be a more welcoming and caring
gesture if the concerned person is asked to teach just one course of
his/her preference? From the next semester onwards, the person can be
reasonably expected to share the collective teaching responsibility at par
with others. Similar consideration can possibly also be extended to the
retiring faculty. We can certainly afford to be little more considerate and
let him/her teach course of his/her choice in his last semester as a mark of our
gratitude for his/her contributions to the department and institute. This
caring attitude would go a long way in improving the working environment and
inter-personal relationships in the department. After all a positive leadership
breeds a positive attitude.

A good academic institute is known by the quality of the research output
that it generates and it is our duty to look beyond short-term personal
gains for the greater common good of the institute to which we all owe our
identity. It seems ironical that we lay so much emphasis on the research
potential of candidates before hiring them and then refuse to give them
adequate time to pursue their research interests! An egalitarian basis for
sharing teaching responsibility would enable the younger colleagues to devote
more time to research for which they have been hired in the first place! If we
continue putting too much burden on the younger colleagues, we may eventually
end up losing on both fronts: the younger colleagues will soon lose the spark
and zeal for implementing their research ideas, and the quality of classroom
teaching will be below par. Enhancement of research activity is necessary for
improving the quality of teaching because of the new insights gained in the
process and this in turn makes the lectures more stimulating and worth
attending indeed!

The above may be an utopian ideal and not all newcomers may be able to
realize their potential fully but then there would definitely be some who
would and that would make the difference between an average teaching
institute and a respected research institute. Let us all chip in and
contribute our bit to let IIT Roorkee be known for its research output,
rigorous academic standards and not just for the beautiful campus and great
hospitality!

"Freedom is nothing else but the chance to do better."
-- Albert Camus
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