Thursday, October 22, 2015

Problem Teacher

'Just got back from Iligan where my eldest daughter is studying Information Technology at the Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). It was not a pleasure trip, indeed it was one that I wished had not been necessary.

My daughter is working on her thesis, which is a requirement for graduation. Instead of an individual thesis, however, theirs was a group thesis where there were three members in each group.

My daughter's group worked on their thesis fully expecting that they could finish before graduation last April 2015. Their adviser, however, had other plans.

After reviewing their documents, he pronounced them unfit for presentation and gave a long list of corrections. It became clear that they would not be joining their classmates in the graduation ceremony.

As a parent, hearing your child cry over the phone is heartbreaking because you know that she is heartbroken as well. I told her to just accept it and do as their adviser says. He's a teacher, right? He knows what a good thesis looks like, right?

So they resumed working on their documents. Soon a pattern began to appear. They would work on the corrections and submit them to their adviser for review. Then he'd schedule a meeting to tell them if it's okay. On the agreed day, he'd say that he had not read them and would set another schedule. On some days, they would have the meeting but he would read the document right there and make another list of corrections.

That became the pattern for the next three months; they'd work on the documents, submit them, chase their adviser around who would then add more things to be corrected. Anyone would be frustrated at this state of affairs and my daughter and her groupmate certainly were. The last straw came when the adviser made, yet again, another list of corrections and the kids showed their dismay. He said, "it's okay, graduations still months away."

My wife and I decided that we needed to talk with this teacher and let him know that his methods were not acceptable. The meeting was civil but did not go well. He insisted that it was his prerogative and that, since his name as adviser would be on the documents, he had a right to make sure that their thesis was perfect. No amount of counter argument could sway him. We were forced to take the matter to his department head who decided to include the assistant dean in the meeting (the adviser was excluded from this meeting).

The department head was sympathetic as was the assistant dean. It came out that my daughter was not the first victim of this teacher's methods. My daughter was just the first to make a formal complaint. They told us to write a letter, addressed to the department head, requesting for a change of adviser. They would then take it up in the department meeting. The only problem was that we had to find another teacher who would be willing to take my daughter and her groupmate on.

There lies another problem. The problem teacher was the most senior in the department and everyone seemed to be afraid of him. Anyone who would accept my daughter could suffer the wrath of the teacher.

So, this problem is unresolved at the moment. We can only hope and pray that things would turn out well.

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