There is a clarification that needs to be made at the outset as far as the definition of higher education is concerned. When I use this word, I am mentioning all education beyond Class X of a school. There was a point of time when higher education was nothing below graduation but in this context, we need to consider even the Class XII education also since attitude of students towards education, their career, their teachers and their institution has undergone a significant change over the last five years or so and there is not much of a difference in the attitudes of students pursuing Intermediate and Graduate education across Indian universities and other institutions. Students today are a lot more matured, aware, technologically sound, kindled; all thanks to their significant interaction with the Internet through their PCs and mobile devices. One major paradigm shift to be noted in student mannerism in higher education is that they are not willing to be bogged down by a teacher or in other words accept the dominance of a teacher in class at face value. They want an enabling environment since the outcome of seeking higher education has undergone a tectonic shift too over the years.
At one point of time in this country till several years back, a teacher’s main responsibility was to teach, set question papers for examinations, evaluate answer scripts and maintain an ambience of discipline and decorum in classes. However for the last few years now, teachers or rather the academic fraternity across intuitions in this country have realized that their responsibility just does not end with being a teacher; rather they are required to be mentors. There has to be a transactional relationship with students which is more of ‘Adult-Adult’ in nature and not that of ‘Parent-Child’. Yes they are to educate students in a particular domain no doubt but then the medium and approach to education has changed. It is more in the form of storytelling, role plays and case studies and not just about Power point presentations and reading from books. There are plenty of books in pdf format and ppts available online for free and hence students are not inclined to come to class for mere content but for value additions and hence a teacher has to be innovative in his/her teaching methodology where his/her students see value in attending a teacher’s class. There has to be a flavor of an enabler in every interaction that a teacher has with the students. A teacher has to go beyond teaching to become a motivator and an architect who will be out there in an institution shaping the characters of students in such a way that makes them more appealing to the industry and the society in general.
Students today often exhibit an attitude of flamboyance, being casual with their studies and teachers often have the tough task of bringing such students on the right track for their own benefit. But then here the old school of thought of sparing the rod and spoiling the child won’t work. Teachers even need to be cautious about the usage of words to admonish a student which clearly requires a teacher to gel with the students in general so as to understand each of them in the best possible way and mentor them accordingly. Further a teacher’s overall mannerisms when they interact with a male and a female student need to be modified at times. In conclusion, it can be safely said that teachers across institutions of higher education in this country are no longer expected to just teach well and be an example of discipline and decorum manager but has to be someone who has the capacity to customize one’s overall approach, integrate oneself with the student community while definitely keeping that much required distance with them and develop into someone who will be a popular, respectable, knowledgeable and an enabling personality.