Friday, March 11, 2011

Industry stint for teachers: Will that solve the problem

The Maharashtra State (India)  minister for higher and technical education Rajesh Tope on Thursday said the industry experience will be compulsory for teachers in all government run technical institutions. Changes would be made accordingly in the recruitment rules for teachers. The Minister added:  “When an individual completes his/her graduation, he/she starts teaching immediately in institutions. If the teacher has some work experience in an industry, it would benefit the students and the faculty as well”. Yes! The standard of higher education has gone down. However, it is doubtful whether sending teachers to the industry will solve the problem. Having worked 36 years in the industry, research and teaching, I have got some idea of the problem. To be specific, the quality of teaching, especially in engineering, has gone down due to the following reasons:

(a) Lack of research in the educational institutions: It should be appreciated that the teacher engaged in research shall definitely become a good teacher in that subject. This is unlike the universities in US and other countries, where majority of the industry-oriented research is carried out in the Universities.

(b) Lack of competence: It is generally observed that individuals go for teaching, when they do not get other jobs. Teaching requires devotion. An individual will do well in teaching only when he likes it. 

(c) Inadequate remuneration: The remunerations in the educational institutions are poor in comparison to the industry. 

Understanding an industry takes years. Sending a teacher to industry for few months will serve no purpose. It will not add any value to the teaching. 

As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Anything that you understand, you are able to explain". That is the problem with many teachers. They are poor at teaching because they do not understand the subject. Quite unfortunate indeed, but that is the reality. That problem is not going to be solved, visiting an industry for few months. We need to understand, students go to college to learn academics. Whole life is ahead to obtain industrial experience. However they will not be able to relate with the industrial experience, if they remain poor at fundamentals.