Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eulogy to Master Niranjan

"Bachcha intellizant hai!"

"Aap report card pe mat jaiye. Aapka beta intellizant hai. Lekin bahut dheet hai. Homework nahi karta hai, book nahi lata hai, class mein baat karta rahta hai, undisciplined bachcha hai. Lekin koi baat nahi abhi to umar hai, sudhar jayega. Hai na, niranjan? Sudhar jaoge na?"

Undoubtedly, my most carefree days of adventuring as a 10yr old were undone with depressing regularity by parent teacher meetings. "Bolo niranjan, sudhar jaoge na?" Goddamit, why do teachers expect answers for rhetorical questions. The idea that the questions are the message in themse... "Owww!!"

"Answer the teacher, Niranjannnn!!" growls my dad as he pinches my leg under the table.

"Yes Maam. I mean, sorry, yes sir!!"

The class bursts out laughing. I don't know why at that age all the guys seem to laugh with you, and the girls seem to laugh at you. I hate the girls in my class... well maybe not all of them, there is one...
"Tu hai na, sudharega nahi, hain?? Mein yahan khada chutterbutter kar raha hoon, tu sapne dekh beta. Abhi bula lenge tujhe tere band baje wale, bhaag liyo tu. Sudharega nahi, hain?? Pata hai IIT mein kitna hota hai ye sab, ye band baja waja. Abhi kar le thodi padhai, hain? IIT pahunchja, hain, fir kariyo, jo karna hai. 

I thought school without history, geography, hindi, and bloody CIVICS would be awesome. Turns out it isnt. Not even school without chemistry and biology and everything else, just physics. Nope. You have to wait till school has no subjects at all. In fact everything about school is awesome except the schooling. "Book laya aaj chemistry ki, hain? Sudharega nahi, hain? Pata hai na book nahi to attendance nahi... " Schools make people hate books, quite literally making ignorant. Ironic.
I have an easy solution. Make e-classes mandatory, classes through skype and facebook and twitter.All the idiots will think this is a great idea and wont resist, but soon they will in turn start hating twitter by association and liking books by comparison, and eventually wont be idiots anymore.

"I'm marking you absent." 
"There is nothing to say really. Your attendance is 74%, and you need 80% to pass. Those are the rules. It doesn't matter that you passed the exam, you still get a fail grade. I could change the grade, but then, quite frankly, why should I??"

I wonder how hard it could be to be a professor at a place like IIT. Once the young and the brightest minds of the country, each converging here for their own reasons, some with a zest for research, some yearning to mould the future, some simply paying homage to their alma mater, each with their own motive, their own defining, and largely accomplished, goals in life, filling that yet other bunch with envious contempt, those others, for whom this was simply the best career choice available.
Those others, ones who bet against the Silicon Valley and the internet boom, the ones who missed the Biotech bandwagon, ones too old or just too tired to catch the Nanotech train. Perhaps a million dollars is a reasonable goal, or a Nobel Prize, or perhaps simply, not having to eke a paper out of half a grant, or at the very least, having the respect, or even just the attention of 30 juvenile self-absorbed smartasses. Its easy to be the juvenile self absorbed ass. Its probably not so bad for the first bunch either. Its definitely much harder to be the bad teacher.
Thankfully, if you could remember what the bad teachers told you, they wouldn't be so bad now would they?

"I know its harsh, but the rules exist for a reason. They could be wrong, which itself is debatable, but surely you may question them, and indeed it is such questions that will force the evolution of the system, but in the end, you are but a speck of dust in the machine. Sure you might be able to change the system, but then again, you might not. The question is, are you sure enough of your cause to put your would-be career on the line? True, this exam might not measure your research aptitude most accurately, but if you cannot handle a simple written test, you are not cut out for research. Nature, and Science, are way more cruel than any of our faculty. And I'm not just talking about the journals."

I hate it when people with authority are right, worse when they call your bluff. Even worse when I find their nerd jokes funny. Bosses should always be wrong. Only then, when the student becomes the master, he wont feel bad for having bested his mentor. So the really astute master, employs a bunch of 'management' as the student's immediate boss or supervisor. So while the student learns from the true master, he will never best him, instead always finding another manager to compete with.

After 20 years of schooling, most of which involved me chasing the fantastical dream world, where there was no exams, no classes, and no homework, where competition was for competition sake, and not to gain admission in a university, where knowledge was sought for knowledge sake, and not for an exam, where I was not required to punch in attendance, nor maintain a pretentious decorum, nor not listen to heavy metal while working... after 20 years of schooling and having finally made it to the other side, I still think...

School... was awesome.
But... no school is awesomer.

Am I in the perfect world I dreamed of??
Well no... but its close enough for now.

Is that why I wont get a 'real' job??
Sure... anything to rationalize being lazy.

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