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TEACHER'S TALK

Poor Doctors and Dishonest Students

College students are notorious for “bunking” lectures. This was the case when I was a student in Mumbai. It is also the case now that I am teaching in a college in USA. The following anecdote reveals the ingenious, and often nefarious, ways in which a student’s mind works.
My friend Poonam, is a recent immigrant. This is her first semester as a college lecturer in the US, a fact most of her students are aware of. One of her students had not shown up for classes many days in a row. In the US, teachers can “drop” students from their roster (essentially striking their names off) if they miss a specified number of class meetings. Poonam was all set to drop this particular student when he suddenly showed up in class again. When asked to explain his long absence, the student replied that he had been very ill. As is the procedure, Poonam demanded proof of illness (a doctor’s certificate) from the student. The student patiently replied that he did not a doctor’s certificate. He then went on to add that Poonam would find this unacceptable, but she would have to understand that there are “cultural differences between India and the US.” While people in India go to a doctor whenever they fall sick, American citizens simply nurse themselves back to health at home.
If this were indeed true, one wonders how the poor doctors make a living in the US!
Rashmi Menon

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