Marathon Feat

“A teacher lectured for 13 hours and created a record!” Bah! Would you call that a feat? Teachers are in any case known to talk for hours and hours irrespective of the fact whether they have the attention and participation of the students or not. Instead of lecturing to a captive body of students, if only he had captivated the interest and thorough understanding of a set of interactive, curious, inquisitive and responsive students for 13 hours, I would have been the first one to acknowledge the feat. Teaching the whole syllabus of 14-15 chapters to an indifferent, comatose and ‘zombified’ set of students is nothing but an exercise to get into the record books. I was told that he would even take snacks in the class (which, I am sure would have interested the students more than the aural onslaught) and a ten minute break for his bodily functions. What was at test was more the endurance of his vocal chords which had never been in doubt as in the case of any other professional teacher. Even if he had repeated the content matter, nobody would have noticed it, least of all, the students. It would have been like the first time speaker on the Radio, who with his excellent preparation found himself finishing the talk in half the time allotted and had no other alternative than to reread the already covered pages, with none being wiser for it!!!

As a student of Physics in College, I remember choosing always the same window in the lecture hall, just so that I could keep looking at a nearby clock tower, wishing for the end of the class. If at all I had scored good marks in the subject, it was not because of my lecturers but, in spite of them. All the credit should indeed be given to my senior siblings at home for whom it was all kid stuff and so could explain the subject more interestingly.

As a teacher myself, I once found myself spending about half a day doing some work in the back of a spacious classroom (we did not have a separate staff room, which was thought redundant in the elite school) as my own students were busy with other teachers in their class room. The experience was a real eye opener for me. Every 45 minutes a new teacher would come and take the class expecting the students not to display any vestige of their previous subject but to be fully alert and faithful to her lesson with 100% attention.

This being the situation in a class of 45 minutes, which lecturer can boast of having their attention all the 13 hours minus the breaks? The essence of teaching lies not in lecturing but in how far the lecture has been effective. It is the interest, interaction and comprehension of the students (who are not just ‘audience’) that is more important. The lecturer’s expertise in teaching Educational Psychology to a class for 13 hrs is indeed laudable if only it has percolated into the students who must have gathered to humor the lecturer and thus help him celebrate the 13th year of his teaching.