Monday, May 20, 2013

ShowTime \Bleak Magic




 Our vice chancellor is becoming more and more of a magician. Over his viceregal lodge hat, he waves his wand and brings forth rabbits out of thin air. His stage assistants, the task-forcers, sway and make every wish of the VC's their ultimate command. They herd  the rabbits pulled out of the hat. These rabbits that were once real  principals are summoned from their offices and placed in the Viceregal lodge and have secrets whispered to them. Then they are whisked back into their own little holes out of which they emerge,  principally  hypnotized, to make pronouncements to members of constituted college committees.

The earlier  magic show was about how to make the Program courses disappear, resurface as  DSI courses and then quickly make posts disappear into thin air by increasing student strength in classrooms. Magic, we must remember, always defies logic. So never mind pedagogical concern that  an optimal number of students per classroom is paramount to make classroom teaching   effective or viable. The  wand has also  waved dismissively over shortage of rooms for teaching and tutorials. An increase in the optimal number of students in classrooms and  tutorial groups  was the next step into magic. After all the trick is to have everything down to the last calculation on paper. Magic has never been about ground realities!

The theme for  the  current show is the new Indrajal:  FYUP foundation courses which promise to enthrall a diverse audience. Eleven compulsory courses, purportedly offering  great choice and inter-disciplinary skill are to be studied by students across all disciplines. Hastily and shoddily cobbled, these courses  form part of the magician's quick trick repertoire and continue to elude comprehension.

  To popularize them principals have  been  given  new magic words: "versatility" and "diversity" in the classroom. This is not to be provided by the courses themselves. Instead, students from three disparate streams are to be bizarrely assembled together in combinations of twenty apiece per section . Since the course content is not challenging, the challenge is to create disparity and distraction and make way for student melees during each lecture period.  This student cocktail of three parts will then be served up as starters during Project operation  which will be orchestrated  by teachers  providing special effects in the form of  marks. What joy and jollity this proposed event will generate is anybody's guess.

 At my college,  members of the Academic Planning Committee  and Teachers-in -Charge have found this practically unfeasible.  Shortage of space has prevented us from including students in  the game of musical chairs  currently reserved for faculty members in the university curriculum.  We recorded  the pedagogic non-advisability of such procedure despite our understanding  that  Magic Shows are about  razzle-dazzle and never  about good teaching or learning practice.

 The grand finale of the magic show is scheduled for July when the latest version of the Great Indian  Rope Trick will be staged. Ringside seats will be available in June and laptops will be distributed as gifts at the gala opening.  This time  V.C. Sorcar  will  be using the university as a prop in lieu  of a rope.  The bad news is that instead of  the  VC's disappearance, as  is customary,  the finale hinges on obliterating the  entire  university in the twinkling of an eye. E-classes on laptops will be the only Virtual  Reality left.

2 comments:

  1. It gets increasingly scary. "V C Sorcar?" though? :P This must be some garbled research experiment that we cannot fathom and which is a condition for his relatively new job. :/

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