We have Dr. Kubendran A, an Assistant Professor in School of Social Sciences & Languages, VIT University. Being a PhD in sociology, he has very special advice for all the students, his views about education is little different but totally practical.
So lets see what he has to say us –
Q: Please tell me something about yourself in short. What type of subjects do you teach and what is your area of specialisation?
I am Dr. Kubendran A presently working as Assistant Professor in School of Social Sciences & Languages, VIT University. I had pursued my MA and PhD degree in sociology from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, Tamil Nadu India.
Q: Was teaching your choice of profession from the beginning?
Teaching is one of those professions which require a great deal of patience and it is been a profession taken up by my ancestors for last three generations now including me. So for me it is kind of hereditary too. Imagine a world without educators—learning is quite a hard thing to achieve. Both go hand in hand. I had a passion for my subject area. So I wanted to become professor for personal fulfilment and a love of children or the anticipated enjoyment of working with young people.
Q: How you started teaching?
I wanted to help others and contribute to the community. Actually the more altruistic motivation for me to become a teacher was, the desire to contribute, included the idea of contributing to society as a whole through helping to shape the next generation, working in a worthwhile occupation, or making a difference in the lives of individual children and young people. That is the prime reason why my area of expertise is psychology and teach so along with ethics and values to my students.
Q: What do you think about the difficulty level of your stream as compared to other streams or subjects?
It’s all about your perception how you view different streams. All the branches are equally difficult and equally easy. It is your level of comfort which varies with the interest in the field. A simple answer to the above questions is that no stream, whether it is Science or Humanities, is better or worse than the other. Approaching this important decision with these questions in mind is wrong and more often than not, anyone would end up choosing the wrong stream for themselves.
I don’t know about which branch is more difficult or who should choose what stream, what I can tell is which students with what mentality should choose what to become.
Students interested in numbers and logical reasoning should opt for science stream and can shift to both arts and commerce streams after class 11. They cannot start a professional career like engineering or medical but can definitely appear for entrance exams. Scientific research is encouraged even by the government and India has some of the best research institutes. Now students who are interested in creative and social environment have to stick to humanities after class 11. Usually a student must opt this stream to complete graduation before starting a professional career like journalist, psychologist Students with an academic orientation should opt for Humanities as there is ample scope of research in all subjects especially in history, sociology, and psychology.
Q: Parents today are diverting their children to become doctors and engineers. Is there really no scope in other fields?
If you ask me why they are doing so, maybe because this is the easiest way to be financially stable in today’s competitive world and maybe to some this is the easiest way to be happy in the corporate world. But if you ask me should they be doing so, “ABSOLUTELY NOT”. I think each and every sectors has its own role which plays an important role in the society that too in a developing country like us. We should be teaching them and guiding them how to comprehend and learn not teach them cramming. The only reason I can think of parents encouraging their children to select science subjects to ensure steady careers. Well now a days with the plethora of opportunities available nowadays, one need not conform to age-old norms. Any change is difficult. You have to unlearn and re-learn different aspects. It should be approached with an unbiased mind. Children should be exposed to all career opportunities because their minds are impartial and open. It is necessary to learn about your area of interest from an experienced person in that particular field.
Q: How is technology playing a role in the current education system?
The presence of technology is growing in the classroom. The new generation of kids come ready to work with these new technologies, which play an important role in children’s learning and acquiring various cognitive knowledge so that technology in education must be incorporated into future curricula. The application of educational technology enhances skills and cognitive characteristics. In a nutshell technology can be beneficial in some ways but yet today’s generation is misusing it. Though there can be various beneficial things available on the Internet though.
Q: What do you think of various online courses available for the students?
Honestly speaking, teaching online is a lot of work. I’m sometimes asked if I feel it takes more or less time to teach online, compared to teaching in the classroom. Online teaching does seem to take more time, but I’ve never systematically compared it to a classroom-based course.
But do you really believe that watching a lecturer read hundreds of PowerPoint slides is making you smarter?
I think universities should ban PowerPoint because it makes students stupid and professors boring. However, most universities will ignore this good advice because rather than measuring success by how much their students learn, universities measure success with student satisfaction surveys, among other things. Overreliance on slides has contributed to the absurd belief that expecting and requiring students to read books, attend classes, take notes and do homework is unreasonable. Courses designed around slides therefore propagate the myth that students can become skilled and knowledgeable without working through dozens of books, hundreds of articles and thousands of problems.
What if I told you that reading off a PowerPoint does not make you a teacher.
Online education is not the appropriate way of learning because of 3 main reasons:
- Slides discourage complex thinking. Slides encourage instructors to present complex topics using bullet points, slogans, abstract figures and oversimplified tables with minimal evidence. They discourage deep analysis of complex, ambiguous situations because it is nearly impossible to present a complex, ambiguous situation on a slide. This gives students the illusion of clarity and understanding.
- Reading evaluations from students has convinced me that when most courses are based on slides, students come to think of a course asa set of slides. Good teachers who present realistic complexity and ambiguity are criticised for being unclear. Teachers who eschew bullet points for graphical slides are criticised for not providing proper notes.
- Slides discourage reasonable expectations. When I used PowerPoint, students expected the slides to contain every detail necessary for projects, tests and assignments. Why would anyone waste time reading a book or going to a class when they can get an A by perusing a slide deck at home in their pyjamas?
Q: If you do not mind me asking sir, why do you think this teaching from slide became very popular?
Universities measure student satisfaction but they do not measure learning. Since organisations focus on what they measure and students like PowerPoint, it stays, regardless of its educational effectiveness.
Hospitals measure morbidity and mortality. Corporations measure revenue and profit. Governments measure unemployment and gross domestic product. Even this website measures readership, broken down by article and author. But universities don’t measure learning. Exams, term papers and group projects ostensibly measure knowledge or ability. Learning is the change in knowledge and skills and therefore must be measured over time.
When we do attempt to measure learning, the results are not pretty. US researchers found that a third of American undergraduates demonstrated no significant improvement in learning over their four-year degree programs. They tested students in the beginning, middle and end of their degrees using the Collegiate Learning Assessment, an instrument that tests skills any degree should improve – analytic reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving and writing. Any university can deploy similar testing to measure student learning. Doing so would facilitate rigorous evaluations of different teaching methods. We would be able to quantify the relationship between PowerPoint use and learning. We would be able to investigate dozens of learning correlates and eventually establish what works and what doesn’t.
Unfortunately, many key drivers of learning appear to reduce student satisfaction and vice versa. As long as universities continue to measure satisfaction but not learning, the downward spiral of lower expectations, less hard work and less learning will continue.
Q: How do you think PROCTUR can help the students and help you in connecting with the students?
Proctur is a platform that connects me with not only students but also allows me to have a virtual relation with their parents too. But since I’m old-fashioned and think it won’t be much of a help to me. It would be great to work together with the parents too in building the young generation for the future, because I believe that a parent’s influence emphasizes much more in a student’s life since majority of the day he or she is spending with their family, but I would have real time conversations with the students along with their parents if needed. I am very happy to be the part of the team where we will be working towards the same goal i.e. getting the youths educated only if it is against virtual education.
Q: Do you have any message for the students?
“College life is not easy, as it involves a lot of effort and dedication, but you are a capable person and I know you will continue to the end.” If you remember this words and put your heart into studies no one can stop you from achieving what you aspire for.