Teachers’ orientation

The old Chinese proverb ‘Give a man a fish and he will live for a day, teach a man how to fish he will live for a thousand years’, though quoted by many educationists time and again, is practiced in our settings by very few educational institutions. In education, particularly higher education, quality issues continue to emerge incessantly despite strenuous effort by many stakeholders to address them. In the present era of information and knowledge explosion, teachers in higher education, in order to be relevant and effective, need to be well abreast not only with the advancements in their respective fields or subjects of specialization but be equally conversant with the multidisciplinary developments in other areas of academics as well. The changing demands of education in the fast changing world call for a paradigm shift and almost complete restructuring of our teaching-learning process. Questions such as, how is the teaching to be, what needs to be changed to meet the changing demands, what kind of orientation and re-training of the teachers is required and the like need to be seriously looked into. This, however, needs much will-power on the part of the teachers and the conviction and cooperation by administration and management of teaching. It has been observed that though most of the young teachers/lecturers are highly enthusiastic and anxious about this change at beginning of their career, but during the course of time their graph of enthusiasm slowly comes down either by falling prey to defective and defunctive system or invisible departmental politics. Herein is the need for orientation programmes for newly appointed lecturers and refresher courses for in service teachers. The teacher’s orientation courses are supposed to induce transformative learning, particularly in the context of higher education, through accommodation of new methods and approaches to ensure quality or fitness for purpose of learning for earning and wisdom. And it is good to see that of late we are seeing colleges and universities here conducting orientation programmes for their teaching staff. The basic purpose of orientation courses is to expose teachers to a broad spectrum of knowledge disciplines through experts from diverse specializations and facilitate exchange of ideas and cross-fertilization of concepts to eventually develop in-depth understanding of multidimensional approaches for social centric and result oriented teaching and research. The orientation programmes are expected to contribute to the teacher awareness of the social, economic, environmental and other problems and the role of education, higher education leaders and educators in the resolution of these problems to achieve desired goals in overall social development. This will be possible only when the resource persons are chosen not casually but very meticulously on the basis of their academic reputation, intellectual depth, scholarly contribution, and administrative qualities. In a system where a person appointed as lecturer for sure becomes a professor fortunately or unfortunately, choice of resource persons only on the basis of professorship hardly makes any sense if the academic reputation is not a consideration. Indeed the quality of a university teacher is judged by his academic excellence, professional competence, research acumen, innovative approaches, diversity and versatility of knowledge base and social sensitivity. An ideal teacher at the university level is expected to be an all-rounder with far reaching ideals, strong enthusiasm, literary and poetic sense, self-confidence, self-independence and a continuous self-challenge, besides being cooperative, kind, respectable, excellence-seeking and creative. What is more important, particularly for young teachers, is to know not only how excellent they are in themselves and their team but also what the university and society expects of them. At the same time whether the orientation courses designed by the concerned authorities really reorient the teachers to meet the objectives enshrined in the genesis of such courses by igniting the young minds to sparkle their brilliance in multiple directions should be evaluated. With due regards to local resource persons, it will be great if some renowned and distinguished scholars including some Noble laureates are also invited in future to such orientation programmes to raise the level of exposure of our college and university teachers to allow them not only to enrich their knowledge storehouses but also to utilize the same for formulation and refinement of curricula as per changing demands.