Teaching – The Once Noble Profession
‘(Successful are the believers) Who are true to their trusts and their covenants’
(Holy Quran 23: 8)
Teaching is an Amanah (a trust)
An authentic Hadith states that one of the questions that one will be asked on the judgment day is, “How did you earn your money and how did you spend it? (Al-Tirmidhi)
In other words, ‘Did you earn your wealth through hard work? Did you make sure that your wealth was always halal/lawful?’
Teaching has been a very noble and honorable profession for over centuries but over the last few decades it has lost it’s much deserved respect. Many teachers are simply unable to justify or better said, “halalify” their meager or high incomes.
There is a dearth of competent teachers who can teach fluently and can rightly claim to be masters of their subject; many renowned teachers of their time are alive and still teaching today but they are rapidly becoming a rarity.
Many uncalled-for trends of modern day teachers have cropped up. Some of them are given below:
Over-dependence on Teaching Gadgets
Teaching gadgets including multi-media power point slides (previously transparencies) are very useful for teachers as well as for students, especially for showing diagrams, movie clips etc for learning purposes. However this has lead to several drawbacks:
Problem for Incompetent ‘Unqualified’ Teachers
Most often than not, professionally incompetent ‘unqualified’ teachers may be unmasked when faced with the task of delivering a lecture without the use of these gadgets. Having little basic command of their subject, they are simply helpless and surrender themselves without these tools.
Coming Underprepared/Inadequately Prepared for Lectures
There is a growing tendency to take teaching very casually, lightly and as a formality, with the result that teachers often come under-prepared for lectures. This is often due to availability of these gadgets.
Lectures are picked from previous years without seeing the latest developments in the field or even worse other people’s lectures are picked up from the net or local departmental computer or copied from seniors or other colleagues and lectures are delivered as such without absolutely any change at all, without even going through them and thus the lectures are not properly prepared!
Unable to Give Lectures Extempore
Use of multi-media has lead to over-dependence on these teaching gadgets, so much so that some teachers’ hands & legs literally start shaking when there is non-availability of these gadgets due to technical or other problems. Today’s teachers are simply unable to deliver lectures extempore. They simply leave the lecture at that point.
Reading Word by Word from Power Point Slides
Many teachers simply read word by word whatever is written on each page of the power point slides and that too by facing the multi-media instead of the recommended eye-to-eye contact with students.
Unable to Use Gadgets Correctly
Many teachers don’t seem to know how to use modern gadgets correctly e.g. cramming ONE power point slide with loads of material, hardly readable by half of the class.
On top of that they seem to accomplish the amazing feat of covering 80-100 of such power point slides in ONE lecture of 45-60 minutes!
Dictating Lecture Notes
Some teachers simply display lecture slides on transparencies or power point and order the students to simply write down each and every word that is written.
Lack of Dedication & Devotion
True teachers love their job; they love teaching; they do not take it as a burden. They jump forward to take as many lectures as possible. If it were possible they would have loved to take all the lectures and even extra-classes for the weak students.
However some teachers take it as a burden and take minimum lectures as possible. They are not dedicated or devoted to their job. They avoid taking lectures, take it as a huge burden and demand cash for taking any extra class.
Due partly to the above factors and other reasons many teachers fail to deliver interactive lectures. They simply don’t know the techniques or strategies required to deliver interactive lectures.
Discouraging Students from Asking Questions
Most of these teachers discourage their students from asking questions, most probably because they are not prepared for the answers. When rarely asked, either wrong answer is given or student is scolded in some way as an excuse.
Time Wasting in Lectures
Often these teachers come 15-20 minutes late for class and leave much earlier. On top of that they are often found discussing non-curricular material during lectures including relating fictional stories and jokes.
Delivering Lectures in Other Languages besides English
Many principals of medical colleges stress upon delivering lectures in English being the major medium of instruction and assessment. Using local languages may be necessary sometimes to explain some concepts, but should never be used as the main medium of instruction, for ultimately students have to write the answers in professional exams in English. This may also be a major reason for the poor verbal & written expression by students in oral and written examinations.
However, since many teachers are not fluent in the English language, they continue to deliver the lectures in Urdu, Punjabi etc.
Coming Late for Work & Leaving Early with Excessive Holidays
There is also a tendency of many teachers to come late to work and leave early. Their defense is that they didn’t have any lectures or any other academic activity at the time. This is all being done unofficially. First of all, when a teacher is being paid for a certain amount of time, then I believe he/she should fulfill that contractual time.
Secondly perhaps students may come to ask questions or colleagues may come to answer queries. Thirdly one can always sit and do some self-studying, paper-making or many other things for the betterment of the college, department and/or the subject.
They also take excess holidays especially in the public sector where there is hardly any check and balance. And yes not only students write proxies, but even proxies among teaching colleagues are becoming scarily common in teaching institutions.
But still government teachers and highly qualified teachers in private colleges especially professors do this knowing that the administration will not do anything to them due to the government job or due to scarcity of highly qualified staff in the private sector.
Excessive Gossiping during Office Hours
Many teachers spend most of their “free time” in teaching institutions gossiping with their colleagues instead of doing more creative/academic activities for improving their knowledge about their subject, as knowledge is never absolute. Topics ranging from politics to religion to sports, everything except academic discussion are brought up on a daily basis.
Encouraging Rote System of Education
The traditional system of rote learning (‘rattafication’), learning everything by memorization, has unfortunately not diminished (in fact most government institutions & many private institutions are still far away from the dream of conceptual learning).
This is basically because teachers, rather than discouraging it, are still encouraging it, again mainly due the teachers themselves being incompetent. As mentioned above, some teachers still dictate their lectures to the students.
Inability to Prepare Standard Exam Questions
Many teachers are unable to formulate standard exam questions including multiple choice questions as well as short essay questions. They contain multiple mistakes, with examples given in this article:
There are also numerous spelling and grammar mistakes in the questions, due to the basic weakness in English.
The consequences of all this are that questions are given as such word to word from the textbooks without any change whatsoever; or often questions come out of course or wrongly phrased because the questions themselves have been copied from various sources without checking if they are correct or not.
Sometimes the questions have wrong wording and or with two or more correct answers either because the teacher did not prepare the topic properly or the questions were prepared in a hurried manner.
Recommending/Encouraging Students to Read Substandard Books
This is again a problem with mainly incompetent teachers who recommend substandard books or books that do not sufficiently cover learning objectives of the syllabi. This is probably because they themselves follow those books. They may also discourage students from reading relatively good books, authors of whom they are professionally jealous of.
Enforcing/Encouraging Students for Tuition
Then a tendency that is unfortunately being carried on from the past but with more worse sequelae: calling students for evening time tuitions or even enforcing or threatening them to attend tuition classes (failing them or giving them less grades if they fail to do so).
Then the students that do attend tuition classes are favored upon (attendance, tests, marks etc) which does become a natural tendency and one of the incentives for other students to take tuition. This is why it is highly recommended that if a teacher does take tuition, the students should be from some another institution from which he teaches in the morning.
All these are forms of corruption.
Teaching Becoming a Commercialized Business
Fact of the matter is that teaching is a God-gifted art and everyone is NOT capable to teach efficiently no matter how hard one tries. Unfortunately many people are choosing this field, including becoming teachers in the medical profession, in the lust for easy money.
Cooking up a degree and stepping into such a noble profession should never have been the correct option for such unprofessional people.
Unfortunately, whether one likes them or not, these are all facts stated here, stated from personal experience over many years of teaching. All these are personal flaws, little to do with the administration or the government.
These teachers should know that Almighty God above is watching, so they should try to halalify their jobs in all aspects, in totality.
Every teacher should look into his/her own collar & see whether he/she has any of these faults and try to rectify them. Only then may we stop the rapid decline in the standards of education including medical education….