Now for the students, my audience. Both classes, Biotech and the PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Math) students are just like any other class I would have in US – more girls, less boys. Girls usually smart, boys just being idiots (generally).
Attendance, or lack thereof, is like I have never seen before. Students just don’t come to class – what a waste of money. There is a core group that always shows up and one that is always absent. The rest decide in the morning whether to go to class or not. And it’s usually not. In USA I would be emailing my students or filling out some academic report – there is nothing to fill out here. And nothing I can do. Even though students are told that they need 75% attendance in order to take their exams, they still don’t care. I think the university just fines them and lets them take the exams anyway.
The noise in the classroom is a little too much. It’s mostly the boys. They are always chatting or whispering. The other problem is that the rooms have echo issues, so whatever they whisper becomes noise. For me the real challenge has been trying to silence these boys. They just don’t listen. It’s like a battle they are having with me. Why? I even tell them that I have marked them present so they can leave. I just want to teach peacefully. But they don’t want to do that either. They are a totally disturbing element. A number of these boys sit virtually stuck to each other – that level of intimacy is not appropriate in a classroom; and then they sit and giggle or talk. It has been supremely annoying of my entire teaching experience.
The girls have been mostly nice. Although I am not sure what they are thinking, but they are definitely participating and taking notes.
My BSc Chemistry Honors class that I met and taught for only 4 lectures in February was very pleasant to teach to. They are in their final semester. But still attendance was an issue. Out of about 20 students only 7-10 would show up for class. They would listen and participate and most were interested in higher education.
My Biotech class was quite okay. Since chemistry is not their major and Inorganic is such a dry subject, I don't fault them for their lack of interest. But I will fault them for talking in class. The girls participated a lot in this class while the boys just decided they were going to be the disturbing elements the whole time. I just don't understand it. There were a few times that I got really mad at them and sent them out of the class, but turns out they are shameless. Despite our differences they were my class from the beginning to almost the end, so I had a little more affinity for them and they to me. They ended up giving me a very nice send off during the last day of class - a complete surprise. I was moved to tears!
The 2nd year Physics, Chemistry, Math majors class was not what I expected. Most students in this class are there just to get a degree and not really learn any content because they all want to sit in some government exam. So, to them the content is meaningless – they only want the degree. Once they graduate, they are qualified to appear for the exam for which they will study – one year, two years – whatever it takes to get selected. And if they don’t get selected – well….they don’t think that far. This class becomes challenging because of such lack of interest in learning or even listening.
One interesting thing about the PCM class is that it meets Mon-Sat – six days a week and perpetually no one shows up on Saturday, so by default there is no class on Saturday. I have never seen such a thing in my life! The college says that 75% attendance is required before students can take the exam, but there is no enforcement or they don’t care enough. I think they are more in the money making business.
By the way, the complete “no show” for classes would also happen on festival days or after exam days. The students just decide by themselves that they don’t want class. Sadly for the faculty, we still have to be there and at least check if maybe one or two students are there! Which if there was then we would just talk for a few minutes before saying "Have a good weekend!"