Teaching and research – a lifestyle option and a lifetime experience

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306      Biochemistry                         disciplines include zoology, botany, bio-     natural sciences. All that is being pro-
307      Science and Society                  chemistry, biotechnology, microbiology,       posed here is to integrate the natural
308      Molecular Biology                    biomedical science, etc. There are single     sciences, conceptualize biology and
309      Applied Biology                      subject honors courses and 3-subject          incorporate more physical sciences,
310      Cell Biology                         general B Sc courses. Some variations,        mathematics and computer applications
300L-2   Laboratory Course                    like 4-subject B Sc courses also exist.       into biology curriculum and thus present
                                                 However, the philosophical underpin-       biology as an integrating natural science4.
   The inter-academy initiative on a 4-       nings both from technical (discipline-
year B Sc degree course can easily be         based) and from educational perspective
structured on either the UGC recom-           has not been seriously enunciated or          1. Text Books for Class XI and XII Biology,
mended model or Delhi University model        debated.                                         NCERT, Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi,
by including two more semesters; one for         Biology is the science of life forms          2006.
                                                                                            2. Restructuring post-school sciences teach-
project work and another for instruction      and living processes. Over centuries, bio-
                                                                                               ing programmes – a position paper, Indian
in few more papers to focus on a major        logical knowledge has led to many tech-
                                                                                               Academy of Sciences, 2008.
sub-discipline within biology like bio-       nologies benefiting humans, be it in food     3. Kambadur, M., Proceedings of the 9th
chemistry, physiology, genetics, biotech-     security, health sector or national secu-        Indian Science Congress (3–7 January,
nology, etc. Alternatively, a true research   rity. One can name sericulture, medical          Annamalai Nagar), Part III, 2007, pp. 3–11.
project component can take the duration       zoology, vaccines against viral, bacterial    4. Kambadur, M., Resonance, 2008, 13, 272–
of a semester.                                and parasite diseases, diagnostic methods        276.
                                              for infections diseases, pregnancy, can-      5. UGC Model Curriculum (Zoology), Uni-
                                              cer or genetic and nutritional disorders.        versity Grants Commission, Bahadur Shah
Conclusion                                    Possibilities of application to human            Zafar Marg, New Delhi, 2001, pp. 13–71.
                                              welfare has driven growth of biological
Undergraduate education in science has        knowledge; be it horticulture, biophar-       Kambadur Muralidhar* is in the Depart-
witnessed a range of structures and sub-      maceuticals, or emerging technologies in      ment of Zoology, University of Delhi,
ject/disciplines such as honors degrees,      communication.                                Delhi 110 007, India; B. K. Tripathi is in
pass courses, postgraduate diplomas,             Biology should be taught as a single       the Department of Education in Science
general degrees, etc. With regard to bio-     natural science domain at the UG level.       and Mathematics, NCERT, New Delhi
logy-related subjects, there are bache-       One can have many models differing in         110 016, India.
lor’s degrees given for medicine and          course titles and degrees of integration      *e-mail: kambadurmurali2001@
surgery as professional degrees; other        within biological sciences and among

Teaching and research – a lifestyle option and a lifetime experience*
S. C. Dutta Roy

In this article, I shall use the two terms       Teaching, it is said, is a noble profes-   innovative development, consultancy,
teaching and research together to mean a      sion, because it comprises a lot of giving,   conference participation, book writing,
single profession and for brevity, use        without expecting any return from the         hobbies, etc.
only ‘he’ to indicate both genders. My        receiver. A teacher gives his best to the        A teacher should be active in research.
aim is to (i) share with my senior col-       student, irrespective of his scope for        Teaching without research is likely to
leagues the commonalities in our experi-      career advancements and benefits. The         make you stereotyped, outdated and
ences, and debate on the differences; (ii)    teacher–student relationship is a unique      stale, however good you maybe as a
to advise my younger colleagues to            one, and is non-reciprocal, because it        communicator. Updating knowledge for
appreciate and enjoy the positive sides of    comprises one way flow, which does not        the purpose of teaching is not enough – it
this profession, and provide them some        have a parallel in any other type of          must be applied to seek and find undis-
clues and suggestions to overcome the         human relationship.                           covered truths. Being active in research
negative sides, if they find any; and            The freedom of time management is          will also help you to innovate on teach-
(most importantly) (iii) persuade research    one of the most attractive features of the    ing methods, to see and show existing
scholars and other students to consider       profession. A rough calculation shows         knowledge in new light and inspire your
teaching and research as a career or life-    that during any semester, the actual time     students to think anew and be creative.
style option.                                 needed for teaching, including prepara-       Various awards and recognitions are
                                              tion and assessment, hardly ever exceeds      available for an outstanding researcher,
                                              20% of the total time available. You are      which are relatively easier to aim for if
*Extended summary of an ‘Institute Lecture’   free to distribute the rest of the time in    you are in the teaching and research pro-
delivered at IIT Kharagpur on 6 April 2009.   any manner you like – amongst research,       fession, as compared to others, because

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of the availability of time, freedom to       advice, therefore, is that you should          Accept everyone with his positive as
choose the topic of your research and         submit your work to the most reputed           well as negative aspects and utilize the
change it whenever you like, and the          journals in the field. Your work may not       best aspects of each for creating and sus-
availability of fresh and bright minds, in    be readily acceptable, but usually you get     taining harmony in the department. Con-
the form of students, to assist you.          in-depth reviews, which give an expert         form to the system when it helps, instead
   A teacher enjoys generous leave facili-    assessment of your work, and a feel about      of sticking to your ego. However, when
ties. Which job gives you sabbatical          your standing in the profession.               something grossly unfair happens, make
leave (with pay) for one year or extra-          What about conference publications?         a positive effort for rectification through
ordinary leave (without pay) for a year or    Most conference publications, in my            consultation, persuasion and constructive
more, when you can go abroad on a visit-      experience, are transients, with varying       criticisms, rather than waging a war.
ing assignment or take up an appoint-         time constants and do not generally have          Writing a textbook is a worthwhile
ment with another organization, including     archival value. Conference participation       activity for one engaged in teaching and
industry in the country? Which other job      is important for exposure to others work-      research. However, writing a good text-
gives you nearly two months of summer         ing in the same or allied fields, building     book requires in-depth knowledge of the
vacation and another month of winter          and renewing professional friendship,          subject and an overview of it, which you
vacation, when you can catch up with all      exchange of ideas, etc.                        get only after teaching it a number of
pending work?                                    It is advisable to expand and change        times and carrying out research in the
   Teaching and research is perhaps the       your field of research, at least to related    same field for a number of years. It is
only profession where there is no clearly     ones. If you pursue the same field             therefore advisable that you should not
identified boss, because the organiza-        throughout your career, you are likely to      think of diverting your energy to this
tional structure is much more democratic      get stereotyped, stale and repetitive in       venture in the prime of your career.
than in any other profession, with much       the long run. On the other hand, if you           I would like to touch upon three more
more freedom of speech and action. This       shift your interests after reasonable peri-    points before I close this article. First,
is particularly true in organizations         ods of time, you have the potential of         please remember that ideal working con-
which follow the rotating headship sys-       bringing a fresh approach to the existing      ditions is a myth – it does not exist in
tem; ideally implemented, all major policy    problems, enriched by your experience in       any system. You have to make the best of
decisions in this system are taken by a       the earlier field.                             what is available and contribute your bit
committee of senior faculty with the             The worst thing in a teaching and           to improve the system. Second, when
Head as the Chairman.                         research career is to isolate yourself from    you encounter a problem and cannot
   Going back to research, what kind of       your colleagues. It is a common phe-           solve it, turn it around and investigate
problems should you choose for investi-       nomenon that senior faculty members in         why you cannot solve it. That is, go to
gation? Problems that one can assign to a     the same general area do not collaborate       the very roots of the problem and you
Ph D student are constrained by a time        or communicate with each other. This           may find some light at the end of the
limit and hence they should be poten-         points to lack of family environment in        dark tunnel. Third, you must always
tially solvable. In addition, you should      the department and also to an atmosphere       work on important problems which can-
work on one or two outstanding prob-          of jealousy and apprehension. If two or        not be solved by routine methods.
lems, and pursue the same in a relaxed        more faculty members collaborate to               Finally, I would like to emphasize that
manner over as much time as needed to         make a strong group, then they can take        the profession of teaching and research
make a dent.                                  up large projects and achieve much more        facilitates you to live a life of dignity. A
   What kind of journals should you pub-      than what could be achieved through            faculty who loses his dignity by his
lish in? There are all kinds of journals in   individual efforts.                            action, including compromising with his
every field, some of which are easy to           The ambience in which you work is           principles and beliefs, is guilty to his
publish in and they survive because of        important for achieving your goal, and         own conscience, and brings disrepute to
the eagerness of the researchers to           much of it depends on how you adapt to         himself, the organization and the com-
increase their publication count. A large     the system. The word ‘ambience’ refers         munity in general.
number of publications may impress the        to faculty colleagues, supporting staff
non-specialist, but not someone know-         and the facilities available to you. Taking    S. C. Dutta Roy is in the Department of
ledgeable in the field. The quality of        the department as the basic unit, you          Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute
work, in terms of originality and impact,     should consider it as a family. No mem-        of Technology, New Delhi 110 016, India.
is more important than the quantity. My       ber in a family is perfect, neither are you.   e-mail:

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 97, NO. 8, 25 OCTOBER 2009                                                                                    1127