Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The magic of partiality/ the logic in impartiality
When I became a teacher,being the super serious geek that I always will be, I took particular care to be impartial in all situations. I scored the answer sheets scrupulously and conducted competitions with fairness.Yet some students complained that I was partial. I assumed that they were just jealous of the toppers and confidently asserted that they were entirely mistaken and that I was totally objective. I challenged them to prove me partial and all that they could do was cry hoarsely," No ma'am, you are partial" It so happened that I taught this class for five years continuously. Even when these students were in class XII, one particular group continued to chant 'partial, partial' whenever I worked with them, although it started to seem that they were not so loud or so upset anymore. On my part I continued to dismiss their claims, but slowly, I had a strange feeling that this group was trying to tell me something. It was as if they were convinced that I was partial but couldn't prove that I was.
I enrolled in evening college for a course in psychiatric counselling the following year. It was as if several windows had opened in my brain. We had some sessions on body language and studying cues given by people and on listening skills. Slowly it dawned on me what these students had stubbornly tried to convey.
I had never given extra points to the toppers, but definitely had smiled more at their quick grasp of fine poetry and classy comedy. I had not realized that backward students felt left out in these situations. I had definitely not smiled, infact, had probably never smiled at them.
I had never praised the toppers or encouraged them out of proportion , but I had looked at them a lot when I taught, because they supported me with their undivided attention and diligent nods. The teacher should look at all the students more or less equally and even if she could not smile at all, should show appropriate facial expressions which would make all the students feel included in the game called class room.
As if to prove how dense I had been I came to know that the leader of the gang that had accused me had been suffering from cancer during her days as my student. And I had never known.!