IIMB: The Faculty’s Charm

Journey, at times, is more rewarding than the end-goal. The past one year at IIMB – a journey of immense learning, of myriad discoveries and of limitless discussions and debates – has certainly been more gratifying than the diploma which we shall receive. A critical player through-out our journey has been the faculty. This blog-post – my last one before the ‘blogging-baton’ is handed to the next batch – is written on a lighter vein to describe their “lighter” side.

No one can dispute the role of the faculty in shaping up careers. Holding the key to whether a student develops interest in their subject, they, in some manner, define destinies. But sheer intellect prowess and mastery in their areas is not enough to incite the interest levels in the student (in fact, students consider these qualities as given here). The professors well realize that the medium – they themselves – is much more important than the course/subject itself. Thus, to succeed, they adopt various techniques. Reflecting on the lectures under various professors during the past one year, I examine here some such techniques aka the faculty’s charm.

Humor is undoubtedly the choicest charm of the faculty here. Different forms of it are practiced depending on what comes naturally to the professor. Some professors rely on the anecdotal humor, timing it to perfection. Just when they see the class interest-level going down, they seamlessly transform into expert story-tellers to narrate a humorous episode or incident. The interesting bit is that the episodes/incidents are not tangential to the topic under discussion – the professors neatly tie it to the concept to reinforce the learning. So, not only is the class interest revived, the concept is etched in the student’s brain. Another form of humor much practiced is the witty type; though confined to the professors who expertise in spontaneous intellect humor. They rely on the circumstances, the situation-on-ground and most of all, their witty brain to come up with one-liners that make the class roar with laughter. A couple of such one-liners in a lecture does wonders to the overall ‘likability’ of the professor.

Moving on from humor, some professors rely on chaos. Yes, of all the things, chaos, in case you are wondering whether you misread or I mistyped.  Such professors encourage, in-fact provoke, the class to air their views without inhibitions. For such professors, spontaneity holds the key – spontaneity in provoking, spontaneity in eliciting views (they do not believe in nor want to give us time to think) and spontaneity in weaving the seemingly random and disjointed views to drive home the point. This last part – the all-important, enlightening words of wisdom that clarifies the concept – is the climax that when experienced gives the student profound satisfaction and generates love for the subject. Much like the music conductors who direct musicians and vocalists in choirs and orchestras, these professors ‘orchestrate’ the chaos to transform the pandemonium into music.

Some professors rely on a simple, yet powerful charm – their inherent friendly nature. Right from the moment they step into the class, they radiate the friendly-vibes that leaves the students in no doubt that they are seeing a student-friendly professor.  These professors wear two hats in the class – their own and that of a student. During the lecture, they frequently don the student’s hat to sympathize with our predicament; particularly before handing out assignments or project-work. Torch bearers of democratic principles and staunch believers of consultative decision making, they tend to involve students in every aspect of their course including course design, evaluation mechanism, deadlines for submissions and toughness of the exam paper. God bless such professors and increase their kind!!

Another charm at play is that of downright modesty and honesty. Irrespective of the victories in the global battle-ground of education and of the numerous citations, awards and medals won, some professors remain steadfastly down-to-earth. During the lectures they share the blunders they made in the past and also the moments when they failed. The intent is naturally to make the class feel that they are one of them; that they too had their beginnings in humble surroundings and most importantly, that failure is the stepping stone to success. Success with humility – a potent combination enough to create a few passionate followers!!

I could go on and on; for every faculty member has some such ace up their sleeve which makes the classes interesting and the learning fun. Thanks to them, the past one year has been anything but dull. The journey this time has certainly been more rewarding than the end-goal. 

– Amit Tambi  EPGP 2009-10

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