Why discriminate among courses?

Why discriminate among courses?

all are equal

Why discriminate among courses?

My son is struggling with his studies. He is not scoring well. Recently, I found out that he is too stressed. Please counsel him,” a worried father emailed me.

This seems to have become a common problem in recent times. I have found many students, especially those in professional courses, struggling with their curriculum and performing poorly in the exams. Generally, the basic issue behind this problem is that they join those courses against their will. Most parents want their kids to become engineers or doctors, and hence they force their children into pursuing such courses.

Presuming that this was a similar case, I started counselling my client. But the issue which I found was quite worrisome. The young man is studying Mechanical engineering in a prestigious college. He was a very good student till Class 12. He took up Mechanical engineering as per his wish and interest.

Despite being an active learner, he failed in two subjects in the first semester. His parents were surprised about his result. They wanted to comfort him and lend moral support. In the second semester, though he passed all the subjects, his marks were very low. Parents thought that he needed some more time to cope with the course. When they got to know that their ward was very much stressed about studies even in the third semester, they decided to take him to counselling. He opened up during counselling and spoke about the actual reason behind his poor performance in the first year.

Root cause

In engineering, students from all departments have to study all subjects in the first year. He revealed that it was the attitude of the teachers from other departments that affected him.

The teachers of Electronics and Communications engineering or Computer Science engineering had developed a negative opinion about Mechanical engineering students. They branded them to be rude, rough and ‘not so studious’. Because of this preconceived notion, teachers from other departments were openly contemptuous towards Mechanical engineering students in the class.

The statements of some lecturers working in other institutions forge the student’s complaint. “They join engineering college only to enjoy and not to learn.  They are not studious at all,” said Namrata(name changed) who is a lecturer of Computer Science in a prestigious college in Bengaluru. “I hate going to mechanical engineering classroom. It is a waste of time and energy. But what to do, we have to teach them. So we simply go, teach whatever is there in the syllabus and come back. I don’t care if they really listen, because they hardly do! I just do my duty,” said Reshma (name changed) who teaches Information Technology in a college in Noida.

Similar attitude was seen among some other lecturers too, with whom I interacted to understand the reality. Such prejudiced treatment from teachers had caused an intense disturbance of thoughts for this student. He had developed hatred towards those subjects. He started questioning the very need to study other subjects when his purpose was to learn Mechanical engineering.

When these thoughts dominated, his studying ability got compromised and he flunked in those subjects. The failure created a trauma for the student as he had to face criticism from the teachers and he had no answer for his parents. It was difficult for him to explain the real problem behind the failure to either parents or teachers. He tried to cope with the problem but continued to struggle with it, which created tension in his mind.

Who is responsible for his failure? Is it himself? Is it his parents? Is it his teachers? Is it the system? If we think from a broader perspective, there are a lot of flaws in the education system. But that is another debate altogether. However, if we look into this specific case, what we find is that the behaviour of a teacher influences the student’s learning capabilities. This instance is a clear indicator of how preconceived notions and generalisations by teachers have resulted in a reduction of desire to learn the subject. That means that the students need much more from teachers, apart from being merely teaching lessons. The positive attitude of a teacher will definitely help in developing a liking for a subject.

Reparation

The ‘labelling’ causes tension in the minds of the students. They don’t take such criticisms as a challenge; rather, they take them as their fate. This in turn results in poor performance in academics as well as other activities.

The discrimination between the disciplines should be removed from the minds of the teachers, parents as well as students. Every subject has its own importance and needs a particular set of skills to be understood. Like each labour has its own dignity, each discipline has its own dignity too. Let there be no superior-inferior relations among them.

There is a reason why my client continued facing the same problems in the second year too — because he had to handle the subjects of first year along with those of the second year. That too, along with a badge of ‘failure’ with him, which he had not faced anytime in his life. It had created an emotional stress in him. This pushed him towards the addiction of cigarettes. The whole thing had turned into a mess.

Thankfully, his parents understood the need of counselling for their son and took appropriate steps, which helped in addressing the problem. But there are so many students who are intelligent, but end up in a similar mess with no help from anyone.
If students evolve their intellect, then they will be a resource to the country. Let us create a positive atmosphere all around so that the whole learning process, from primary education to higher education, would bear sweet fruits. All those individuals who influence the education of a child, particularly teachers, play an important role in this regard. If they give good guidance, students can create wonders.

(The author is psychologist & founder, Mano Samvaada)

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