“Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.” ~Tom Stoppard
The latest I-don’t-know-why-it’s-called-Frosh Week gave me a little dose of nostalgia. Even after four years, I can still remember some of the details of my first day as a freshman. We were in the classroom waiting for the professor for our first Physics class but after thirty minutes or so, no instructor has yet arrived. Most of us did not leave the room because our next class was on the same room. While others had already made new friends in the class, some of us were still quite reserved, quietly immersed in our own worlds.
After a while though, someone came to the room and stood beside the table. We did not pay much attention to him because we thought he was just another classmate. In fact, some of my classmates even looked older than him. Imagine our surprise when he told us that he was our instructor. We were left in a state of disbelief that even though the instructor was already discussing his “house rules”, we were still waiting for the punch line that never came.
I cannot remember the name of that instructor; I think he did not even give his name. He just showed up for one meeting and then we had a different instructor afterwards.
Although that instructor had touched our lives so briefly, most of the instructors I had were stuck with us for whole terms, fortunately or unfortunately. These instructors came from almost all types, from those who are too kind that you’d pass the subject whether you like it or not to those who are plain inconsiderate that they seemed to have their greatest happiness pegged on seeing their students writhe in suffering.
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Love them or hate them, we cannot deny that being under their supervision has influenced our lives to a point. Although some did not leave any distinctive marks, like mosquito bites that itched for a while but are then forgotten, some were quite instrumental. By being with them for more or less 450 hours a term, our lives were somehow molded whether we admit it or not.
Which is why it is a bit sad to see that most of my previous instructors, who constituted much of the identity bestowed upon our school, had joined the slow exodus of competent professors who are leaving the school for “greener pastures”. I do not have the exact numbers but just last term at least five instructors had resigned in my program alone. The latest increase in the number of enrollees had thus caused remaining professors to overload.
Among the problems we experienced during the enrollment period were effects of the so-called professor exodus. Some of the higher-year subjects were not available even though the students who need to take the subject had the sufficient numbers required to open even two sections. The reason given was that there were no professors available to handle the course. But see the absurdity of a school who cannot give their students a subject that was supposed to be in their curriculum because they do not have the sufficient number of professors. It was like a restaurant who cannot give the food to their customers because they do not have enough waiters.
Most of my batchmates had to settle for less than the usual 15 units this term because the other courses had no instructors. It caused quite a dilemma if that course was a prerequisite of another course they needed to take the following term. It meant a request for wave next enrollment, or worse, an additional term with less than 10 units. Imagine the miscellaneous fees on that. Although some courses were said to be offered during the first week of classes, the students had to suffer long queues at the faculty for inclusions that should not have been their problem in the first place.
I cannot blame these former instructors for leaving the Institute because I know they have their own valid reasons. Some will say the slow exodus was caused by financial distress while others will say it was caused by managerial concerns. But whether their departure is a sign that the quality education we were supposed to be having is waning, we cannot really say. However, there is no doubt that their exodus has left a void that needs to be filled as soon as possible. Let this exodus be a sign that something needs to be done.
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It is my fervent hope that the new instructors who will assume the vacated positions will be as competent as the previous instructors, if not better. And if indeed the exodus was triggered by management problems or problematic work environments, I hope that the administration can somehow resolve these concerns. The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but if we give more effort, we can always make the grass on our side greener so that our instructors and our students would never have to leave.