Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blueprint of Application for Excellence in Foundation Course Teaching Fellowship under FYUP.

I  rushed home after an afternoon tutorial.  Most mornings begin at 8.45 am and  newspaper reading in the morning has been one of many casualties in this extend-the-workhours -regime.  I learnt  later in the day about the new carrot policy in the morning  paper, whereby  "able academics"  could alter   their academic-life conditions almost instantly.  
The  second round of shake ups in the university academic system   have begun. New golden  apples are steadily being dislodged from the viceregal chambers for the  dexterous Jasons of the university to run after and capture. Yet again , an act of  largesse was in place, an undeserved opportunity for those of us who had been Left behind.
 In retrospect,  objecting  to violation of  procedure and policy was short-sighted.  Being loyal to time tested teaching practice  and believing in academia as a place for dissent, brainstorming, dialogue and collective growth  was a strategic mistake. Demanding transparency and dialogue were tantamount to tilting at windmills. Weary of chasing mirages, I  decided to plunge myself  heroically into this new opportunity  and re-invent myself.

 I  fixed an appointment with  the  head of More Perfect Relations, assuredly the best PR company in the world (  this is  Goebbelspeak   which first  requires the articulation of  a fiction that must be consistently  reiterated  to  prove its  veracity.) Reaching the MPR office  posthaste I began  work to eliminate the competition. Illustrating  my innovative abilities, I am submitting a blue print for the  proposed production.

Director MPR :  You want to produce a DVD demonstrating your excellence as an innovative teacher? My firm  provides publicity for filmstars, politicians and sportspersons. Surely academic awards are bound by some well-defined academic criteria?  Are you sure you are in the right place  ma'am?
Me: Yes! The university no longer has the time for  evaluating academic excellence. We are in a hurry and must therefore forgo all  extant sane academic  procedures because they are depressingly accurate. Academic worth is now to be measured by TRP ratings. So we have a point system in place and both quantity and volume of visible noise are essential qualifications. Academics must produce these special effects or be for ever fallen!

Director MPR: Well, we are in the visibility business. So how do we go about it?
Me: I need to make a ten minute video  showcasing my excellence as a teacher  transforming  the lives of hapless students  by  teaching  ill-conceived and illogical courses that  are smashing the foundations of  serious academic disciplines.

Director MPR: Ten minutes is very little
Me: It is a lot.  Fiinely calibrated mathematical  calculations from cellphone smses have  revealed that  student attention spans  last only a few seconds. Also new protocols from American universities demand brevity as nine continuous  minutes are  now the stipulated information-absorption  norm. We actually have a surplus of one whole extra minute.!
DirectorMPR:  What will we be focusing on?
 Me: Well I need an able film maker who will work pro bono  for me. I need him to focus on my best profile and since I am overweight, he must have good photo-shopping skills.  I was thinking  close focus on my left profile with my hands raised to the sky. This will be an iconic  inspirational pose reaching out to a grand Indian narrative.... and then  the camera must quick shift to  faces of students looking both awed and inspired.

 Director MPR: Is there any audio content.?
Me: I was coming to that.  The need of the day is  a unifying anthem ( our university has plans for one). I am in the process of writing  a small poem celebrating my attributes, in the tradition of the suprabhatams. I will  get the students to recite it. That would show collective growth, me being praised and them doing the praising.

DIrector MPR:  How will that bring out  your   excellent creative skills and provide proof of  the students as learning from your  considerable expertise?.
Me:  I have it all worked out. I teach an Application Course in Translation. My basic discipline is English Literature, Nobody is more qualified to write a hagiographic poem on me. I shall write this poem in Ottava Rima  or the far more compact  Tetrameter. My students will  memorize and recite it in English. This will be part of their presentation. Then I will get them to translate it into Hindi and other regional languages. Actually it doesnt matter that our students have minimal knowledge of other regional languages. We also have no  translation laboratories or equipment to assist students.  All this is irrelevant as we have complete leeway to do anything we want.
We have an exciting component  called project work, which will be useful  for  outsourcing  translations.
 Once this is on camera, the DVD can be outsourced for dubbing into various languages. (a minimum of ten)
 This way,  I will  have created a text, provided for inter-textuality, created a link between the various languages of India and also put myself on the national map with at least sixty unknown scholar-translators per semester.
 I shall also acknowledge my  sources(even though this is a practice that the university is beginning to frown upon) I need everyone to know that my  inspiration is global.  The Ceausescus Of  Romania  rewrote themselves into  their  nation's  school  curriculum.  Surely university teachers  are better  qualified to direct   higher education?
Taking a  a leaf out of Chinese Olympic Inauguration protocol  the camera must focus on the good looking and photogenic students for best visual appeal.   They must  be choreographed  looking rapturous. Don't worry about discrimination. The ones with good handwriting will write  me glowing feedback about how they had never understood the potential of  teaching till they attended my lectures.

Director MPR :  You must be a fantastic teacher to generate such  student response!
Me: Actually, teaching is the least of it. I  control their marks. The Carrot policy is as effective at the bottom of the pyramid..   It works well for me too. Every student clears my course with distinction.  This is in keeping with  our new output based national  educational policy where we record an annual  increase in the  numbers of outstanding  scholars. How else in the absence of infrastructural facilities and indifference to quality do you think education is being upgraded.? Education is expanding  in geometric proportions inside of our own heads. All we  are required to do  is to manufacture  the data to support it. I am first  and foremost a patriot!

 Director MPR:  This is a brilliant innovative project.
Me: Yes, It  should merit a one year fellowship to China or maybe Romania,  and recharge me.  On my return, I shall contact a recording company and hire playback singers, maybe train  the next translation batch to sing in  many languages. My first video will also be immediately updated and submitted for the next round of  awards. Hurrah for innovation and  diversification in the  business of higher education.