How dignified is teaching job, anymore?
You’re not really hired to teach. You’re hired to teach, with a subtle note that “You must be ready to work for college, when needed”.
In last two years, there were moments, days, weeks – when I was told to leave my class since I was “needed” for the college.
I have not seen home for last one half years, more than three-four days. A whole May was stolen from me last year, in account of the fact that college “needed” me. I worked tirelessly, deprived of sleep, ignoring the pain, knowing that I’m pushing myself way too far away. And a December, in pain, thanks to my sincere attempt to work for the college.
I remember the night when I walked in home, around 12, with a worried family shouting at me from the second I entered, though they know that I am in unbearable pain – and I was called “One of the worse” and “a huge negative energy destroying the college” in less than two months – because I had to retire from those works due to sickness.
I never went for the morning prayer in Anderson Hall, not because I can’t or I wish not to – the only reason, from a pastor to least of students, wanted me to attend it is to please principal, who’d be watching all our movements closely. Same goes for all inaugurations in college, all other events.
And then I realised something: Apart from all loyalty to the admin and to the college, which they later claimed that I do not have, I was, all these while begging for my job, or may be overdoing it myself.
That’s what I was told to do – “You better do as they say, just to safeguard your job”, “Last year there was a boy who kept away from all these and they didn’t renew his contract” and the stories goes on.
In short, I can compromise on my teaching, but need to be good at begging for my job.
What made me think about all these? Two reasons: a gentleman I men recently, Dr. Rajagopalan of English department, the grace with which he treated me, the conversation we had about dignity of this job back in his junior days and how it is not now. And then, the incident last day at gate. My message to TR, the head of the department summarises it all:
Sir, the new security is fairly harsh with us: we don’t know what to do with it! Today when we (Abhishek and I) were coming in, they demanded ID. Usually when we tell them we’re staff, they let us in. They still blocked us, so I showed them my ID, to avoid issues, he grabs it, and was asking me questions like “aren’t you a Thomas hall student” and all, fairly harshly. We tried to walk past, he pulls back Abhishek demanding his ID, even that, he was dissatisfied and let us pass grumbling. It’s true that we don’t quite look like staff, but at least with the ID, I feel they could’ve avoided the comments! It’s getting rougher day by day with the new security! Can something be done about it, sir?
In other words, do we mean nothing to the college that they themselves and their friends tread on us like we are just “expendables”?
I am denied of my rightful salary – in the name of “upcoming” confirmed posts, we have been made to work on temporary contract all these while. That just means I am paid one third of what we are supposed to get, with just empty promises last two years.
I’m also supposed to perform crazy good in academics, if you don’t want to be criticized. A professor works day through night to catch up with all clerical work assigned to him, along with teaching, and he’s still got to publish papers, if he wants to survive! Thankfully, that’s secondary to the other reason I stated above, followed by teaching.
I know great people like Vivek, who are born academicians, passionate teacher – but his research is sidelined, his teaching takes a backseat, my story is not any different, just to keep his job!
I am not allowed to be critical either – any of these things I said now, if a person other than my confidantes come to know, I’m out of my job, too. Critical thinking, criticism has been deemed to be hazardous and any comment in those lines must be met with harsh replies, as I experienced in recent past (even without a reason, I was accused of the same and pretty badly shouted at!).
Oh, how that photo of Vivek with a girl in his DP caused tonnes of “hushes” in department – how can he be in a picture with a girl? You wear a round neck t-shirt? That’s bad. Keep a distance from students. Never trust anyone. Words of wisdom from wise men and women of our college. Aka, we ought to fit all of their stereotypes or inferiority complexes, if you want to stay in the job. I feel judged each second I am in campus. I feel like, they are just planning my doom, for pleasure, and no other joy.
- Denied of rightful salary.
- Made to beg for job.
- You got to show your loyalty to admin, and live among fakers who just do it for survival.
- Made to compromise on teaching, which is my primary duty, to “safeguard” my job.
- Treated with no dignity, admin and the world sees us only as a commodity to squeeze every penny they give us out of.
- Doublethink is a sin.
- Got to stick to the stereotype and limits set for you by people around you.
- Perform academically, publish papers every night, else you are out of the league.
- Hierarchy of threat to job goes this way: 1. Your deinal to involve in clerical job 2. Display of your loyalty 3. your inability to perform academically, despite other works and teaching showered on you. 4. Your character must match society’s stereotypes about you. 5. Least of these, your poor/horrible classes.
Then why did I keep myself away from all the corporate jobs, which I could’ve easily got myself into?
On the other side, at least the ones I came across – those students are just the opposite – friends, who taught me more life lessons than my colleagues themselves. But I ought to keep a distance from them, just to safeguard my job.
After a point, as described in previous post, I started defying all these rules, and I even sounded my dissatisfaction in these lines to my HOD, one of the few sensible beings we have left in campus, I have no hopes of getting a contract letter next June.
But I am at peace to a great extend with that fact. First of all, TR won’t let such a thing happen without a fight. Rather than making me fall in love with the job, these people just made me hate it further, live in fear. I’ve less peace in my heart, more restless – you must have read the change of tone in my posts over two years. I used to console myself at the end of the day saying “At least I get to teach”, but now I feel even that’s not coming to my rescue.
As someone said recently – it’s much worse elsewhere – sure you want to move out? A point worth considering.
Talking about contract letter next June. They never tell you if you’re continuing until the last second, in fact, they never tell you that you’re not going to get one – You get no call asking you to collect your appointment order a day or two before last singing day, you must realise not to embarrass yourself going there and asking if they forgot to call.
That reinforces the fact that you mean nothing to them.
I’m more tempted to the decision to quit, to be frank. If not for the promise I made to the upcoming 2MSc, and the expectation on me with which TR has bet high on next semester, above all, family’s urge to get settled in life, I’d be out of their way, already. Something must change. Soon.
Here’s a line from V for Vendetta that’s been echoing in my head last few days:
‘Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.’
…and it spreads like a wildfire. Now, can you guess why I don’t publicize my posts? It’s personal. It’s my anguish. It’s my cry, the tears that cannot be shed in public.