Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Challenges in teaching at a juxtaposed space: Pupil and their performances

I have taught in a college in the heart of the industrial land within a port city to find some of the finest (in my experience) students having a rainbow of capabilities. I have seen students being absent for long to harvest their crops and then again resuming classes. With a few extra aids many of them have excelled in academic career. One of them went to join IIT to do a Phd.

When i had joined my first College at the port city some of my colleagues from upwardly mobile classes having high-end educational background were already demotivated with a bunch of 'underclass' first generation learners.

The ranting of same words to describe students in the teacher's hostel were enough to make any new comer feel hopeless and cynical. Meanwhile I also encountered my fellow colleagues who have given their best to 'come down' to a certain level and make them shine. Yes, i can proudly say there are students from the first generation learners pursuing PhD, working in multinational companies or have become small entrepreneurs.

Then came a day when I had to pack my bag and come to the newly built city of New Town kolkata to serve at  'A-Zone' college. The glassy building surrounded by three shopping malls and high-end apartments this college represents a potential to become one of the best in the town.

However, there are equally frustrated teachers with first generation learners coming from a little distant villages surrounding the built-in city of New Town. A major difference that I find here is the lack of interest to learn among a large section of the students. While in the port city college there were students lacking ability to comprehend things here there are students who has the ability to comprehend but are disinterested. I have used movie clips, told them stories, gave links to movies and my blogs to make them feel interested. None of these could hold interest for long. Whatever spur created lasted for the class time only. Then most of them went back to the juxtaposed space to be lost. I have seen students changing how they embody their selves rapidly after they started coming to the college. Many of them keep on taking selfies infront of the glassy staircase of the college building overlooking the baclyard of a shopping mall. Many of them I am sure somehow lost in the space. The juxtaposed space.

What makes this difference possible? Of course there is a role of unlimited high-speed internet revolution which is taking away a considerable amount of time of the students. But that is not the sole reason. Let me explain how a juxtaposed space might be playing a role.

Below are some of the photos of the road conditions that one of my students from the department of sociology has to avail to reach college everyday.

Road conditions near Bhangar (PC. Sahajahan Mollah)

Now see the glassy building of the college positioned at the heart of the built in city of new town kolkata surrounded by three shopping malls, well maintained metalled roads and all amenities that most of students can see from a distance but can rarely have access to.
One of the shopping malls adjacent to the college
The glassy architecture of the college building
The roads in front of the college

 At one side of the college property lies high-end apartments.

Neighbourhood of the college

People here only travel in their own air conditioned cars buy foods and vegetables from supermarkets. The entire space represents a late capital postmodern reality. Even plants on the boulevard are unfamiliar ones. Moreover, many of our students have heard stories of land acquisition and related violence that many of their parents relatives and neighbours have suffered from.  The space, therefore, tells the stories of violence and does symbolic violence over the common psyche with a) portraying  massive class difference, b) alienating the marginalised 'others' (students )through process of everyday encounter of significant others (including the space and also the actors).

Teachers, they similarly misrecognise to belong to the space that takes a small moment to isolate them. No matter how hard many of them try many of the students remain at the margins as they see teachers in the same spatial context, embodying same cultural capital which is attractive but 'impossible' to reach.
The pathway to reach there is not visible or are yet to become visible. Meanwhile, the exchange of knowledge continues with a dream 'imagine all the people sharing all the world equally!'

Acknowledgements: I am indebted to Dr. Sreejith K and Pranabesh Bhattacharyya for lively discussion on these issues over drinks.

See also: Interpretations and Experimentation on Knowledge Transfusions by following this:


  1. You are a thoughtful professor, professor! Keep it up.

  2. thats brilliant, yes space does play an important role in shaping people's experiences. Good one

  3. Sir miss you a lot. Remember me. Its tanmay. If you come to Mumbai do let me know.

    1. How can I ever forget you. I will definitely call you before I go to Mumbai. Take care

  4. These photographs tell the story of pain and being lost somewhere.

  5. Remembering old days. You and KP sir mafe us believe that we can do something good. Need your your blessings for my phd sir.


  6. Sir I still do harvesting every year.

    1. Great. You feed us. Thanks. There is a student in this college too and I am proud of you all.