Year : 2020 | Volume
: 18 | Issue : 4 | Page : 273--274
President, IAPHD, India
|How to cite this article:|
Pushpanjali K. President's Message.J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2020;18:273-274
|How to cite this URL:|
Pushpanjali K. President's Message. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 20 ];18:273-274
Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2020/18/4/273/303645
Greetings to one and all!!
The year 2020 has almost reached the end of its road and humanity is yet to return to our pre-pandemic existence. While duly acknowledging the great damages of the pandemic in terms of loss of lives and a global economic slowdown, I sincerely believe that the fact that the majority of us have endured and survived these times, does give us reasons to keep our spirits up. That, along with the inspiring and untiring efforts of a resilient health and research workforce world over, retain hope that we shall indeed overcome this crisis that has befallen humanity.
Pedagogy, as all of us would agree, is much more than the unidirectional transfer of information. In fact, as teachers in class rooms, clinics or communities, we have constantly strived to steer clear from unilateral, unimodal, instructional manner of teaching and our students have not only benefitted, but also appreciated these efforts. As educators of Public Health Dentistry, it has been always been our prime concern, to maintain open lines of communication and to encourage healthy interaction and discussions during pedagogical sessions. We have been guided by the shared conviction that the feedback that a teacher receives from his/her students is no less important than the knowledge that we impart to them. The facial expressions, the body language and at times even a flicker of curiosity or fatigue in their eyes are valuable hints for an experienced teacher, indicating the extent of intellectual and emotional participation of his/her students.
Public health is one discipline which needs such an open and democratic approach to education, since the professionals we help shape are going to deliver their skills, not just in clinics with patients on a one to one basis, but also in communities involving small or large groups of people. Thus, in our class rooms, we not only help shape ethical, skilled and responsible dental professionals, but also able teachers and potential community leaders. This collective philosophy of education based on mutual respect and communication, has constantly guided our discipline and I believe that this has raised our teaching and learning experiences from the realm of mere cognitive advancement to touch the attitudes, value systems and practices of our students.
After the initial jolt, when we decided to take life forward by restarting various professional activities, albeit in a limited manner, one of the greatest concerns many of us had, was regarding online teaching. Even when we acknowledge that technological advancements in the form of online meeting platforms have greatly enhanced our possibilities and facilities of carrying forward with life as-usual during the pandemic, it has created singular difficulties for the processes of teaching and learning. Once we move past the initial hiccups of getting accustomed to the new platform and the uncertainties of connectivity, we realise that the major issue posed by online teaching is perhaps communication itself. Communication in online platforms, especially in the context of regular class room teaching could be confusing and ambiguous, since more often than not, the educators are never really sure of the extent of intellectual, emotional and at times, even the physical participation of our students. This nagging question of ”are you with me,” is something that constantly plays in our heads, quite reasonably so considering the nature of the situation, and it is only when we manage to get past it, that we can actually engage in true open communication.
I realise that it would be equally daunting to the students, who are already coping with an upheaval in their lives posed by reduced social interactions, consequent isolation and monotony. Now they are also expected to understand complex concepts in public health, without adequate opportunities for direct, interpersonal connection with their teachers and peers. For all we know, this situation could continue for quite some time in the future and it is critical that we acknowledge the problems posed by it. Even the most experienced of educators find this challenging and so naturally, it would be trickier for the relatively more inexperienced amongst us. As the quote rightly reminds us, ”in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity” and so, this is also the time to stick together, ask for guidance, support each other and if required, come up with innovative ideas and approaches to suit this new situation in teaching and learning.
There are no easy solutions, but as always, our organization would fully support all endeavours to help our fellow professionals in navigating these uncharted waters. I look forward to learning your views and positions about these issues, along with any other concerns, triumphs, challenges and aspirations that you may have with regard to anything concerning our valued profession. The way ahead may have many more challenges, but I am fully convinced that, with your whole hearted cooperation, together, we will find the light at the end of this seemingly dark tunnel.
Once again, I remind all my fellow practitioners and colleagues to stay safe and follow all the necessary precautions in your practices. On behalf of IAPHD, I sincerely wish all of you a very happy and prosperous new year!