After certain number of years of academic jargoning, learning and unlearning existing pedagogies, meandering through honky-dory lanes of rigorous materials prescribed in concerned “syllabi”, gnawing about a future of being in “academics”, I try to make sense of the exact amount of satisfaction I have felt till this point of my life’s journey. Entering “academia” was more of a part of an evolutionary process than a fixated “plan” to ache it in terms of nerve wracking “discourses” and endless “debates”, most of which simply suck up our evolving minds.

Okay so now that I am “into” academics and keeping in mind every day of my life as to how I “progress”, I keep myself on a state of “equilibrium” with others. I realise I am as equal a part of my students, as I was with my fellow college and university mates. But again, sometimes a rash thought appears in me that this feeling of equality is perhaps more of a “subjective-empathetic” stand rather than “gross reality”.

Having said that, if I try to understand my position in what we can call as a “Dahrendorf-ian association”, my position as a teacher carries authority, what we know as legal power. By this, the simplest meaning would be to exercise “power” over my subordinates in an everyday manner or say go through a constant expectation to feel this invisible sense/image of “power”. Having said that, it would certainly not mean that I will try to create opportunity/ take advantage of a ‘misplaced hierarchy’ in pedagogical learning. Existing pedagogies are already “trash-cans” and we are constantly in a state of crisis to bring positive changes in teaching-learning process. So, as I sit on this side of the table and try to feel the teacher’s pen on the attendance registrar, I realise my world of understanding knowledge might transform to a slight extent, since now I am within the formal framework of “holding power” in a “position of authority”. This would include my outlook in terms of my teaching pattern, the mode of making knowledge “available” to my students and also the level of efficiency in ensuring good “output” from them in terms of performance. So basically I am constantly performing within the boundaries of my own expectations.

Now, how do I continue expecting to ensure self-consolation about the idea of my efficiency? I might do that by revisiting the practice of teaching I am carrying out, or I might provide myself reinforcements (like a self-treat, a day out for spa or anything I can think of) if I feel satisfied about the quality of teaching a certain topic/theme. But again, this constant, involuntary choice of using the term “teaching” itself shows that I am placing myself on the side of a teacher. Not that I do not love “claiming” that, but perhaps more than having a claim over it, it is about enacting/performing a teacher’s duty, meeting the role’s expectations, to say the least. At times, the idea of self-proclamation seems quite sadistic.

Moreover, in terms of the subject-object argument, how do I see myself in such a position? How far are my students “subjected” to my whims of “performing academia”? Or say, how far are they “objects of quality performance? And if this subject-object dichotomy continues, how do we continue our idea of progressive learning and teaching in a rapidly transforming scenario in the education sector?

Teaching is often understood as an exorbitant responsibility. I thus have started believing in the idea of sharing and interacting.

Rituparna Choudhury Faculty in the Department of Sociology, School of  Social Sciences, Kaziranga University


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