Monday, August 30, 2010

Never thought I had to publish this post!

After my BTech, when I started working, I realized that very little of what was taught during my undergrad (at supposedly one of the top institutes in the country) was useful in the real world.

At UCLA, I felt that the graduate education is so much more meaningful since it is very close to real stuff out there and so was my research - hands on.

For joining IIIT-D, one of the primary reasons was the enthusiastic colleagues who were striving to change the undergrad curriculum and make it more meaningful for the next generation. I felt that here is an opportunity to provide my younger friends with something I felt was missing in my undergrad education.

After teaching the PhD level course last semester, I had an opportunity to teach the 3rd year students a course which would have been more meaningful for me with a smaller class size and more interested students. But when there was a discussion of redesigning the system management course and teaching it to the first year students, I got excited and opted for it. Here was an opportunity to teach the students fresh into college, the skills and tools that from my experience are very useful all through the education (and your professional career if you opt for a technical one) but are usually never taught in a class room setting.

A lot of thought went into not just deciding the curriculum but the way teaching should be done. I had always argued with my colleagues and have passed on the same message to all of you that I consider you all as adults - who know what is good and what is bad for your own self; who understand if the other person is working hard for you and have the capacity to reciprocate; who would enjoy the freedom and responsibility given to them (that was often missing when I was a student); and who would love the fun filled teaching style.

But I was so wrong.

Most of you seem to be corrupted beyond a position of return. And the rest of you follow the suit by not raising a voice against it. The person committing the wrong deed is probably your friend and by letting him do it, you are not abiding by the true rules of friendship but actually going against it.

College life indeed is fun and I will be the first one to vouch for it. I thought I could design a course that could make it even better. It is for that purpose, I included the individual assignment so that you will be forced to take out time for doing something you always wanted to do but it took a backseat. It is for this purpose I thought if you guys can learn better by trying to create a play/video out of whatever you learn in the class.

All this means extra work for me as well. I can very easily come and speak up in the class, leave, take exams and then just grade in the end. I never got the sort of feedback I expected. But I still thought that it will take you all some time to adjust and was always willing to give you guys that breathing space.

Today, I was dejected.

There should be some principles in everyone's life that one should always adhere to - no matter what. If you are not interested in the course, accept a lower grade and you should be able to justify it later. Grades do not matter in the long run, principles do. And it is often almost impossible to unlearn things as you grow older. You are in that critical moment of your life when you can question how things have been in the past and create a vision about how you want them to be. If you do not create these set of principles for yourself, you will be leading a hollow life all through. And the sad part is that the realization of this will occur when it is already too late.

I hope at least some of you will do certain introspection after what happened today. It was just a small quiz, probably I wouldnt even have included the score in the final evaluation. And cheating to get a few extra marks may just seem to be not a big deal. The act indeed is not. But the idea that you didnt feel bad while doing it is indeed wrong.

Hope you dont learn too many such things which become baggage for the rest of your life since very soon it will be too late to unlearn.