As a student, who has studied in many institutions and with a limited teaching experience here and there, I see depth of the matter and the delivery of presentation as two important characteristics of a professor or a teacher.
Many students (not all)loved the subject they like because they had good teachers. Because of the extensive growth in media (especially the visual media), we rank the two features as given in the figure. Nobody would have any doubt on the first option where both the qualities are excellent. Now all have some teachers (and leaders) who fits the bill.
Now the question is, if there is an option between presentation skills and depth of the matter, which one you would opt for? The person with a good presentation skill would be an entertainer, whereas other may bore you to death. In normal circumstances, many opt for a person with better presentation skills than depth of the matter. Exceptions can be the high motivation of the student or a personal experience with the teacher.
As students, it is our right to ask for teachers of the first quality. And we also demand that teachers with depth should improve their presentation skills. All these are justified and all efforts should be undertaken to make the matter presentable and understandable. But when an option occurs, can we ot for presentation skills at the cost of depth? I see this preference as a dangerous sign. What are its implications?
- When we have an option to select our leaders, we follow the same pattern of selecting our teachers. It is good to ask, do we need a meticulous, fabulous orator or good designer cum planner cum implementer. The right mix may be the best option, but its not available in life. So choices are important.
- When there is an option to choose between a tough book (which I call, above my intelligence level) and an ordinary book (which has its own beauty), would I choose a book that challenges me?
- We started seeing presentation skills as a substitute for the depth. [Embellishing/toppings on the food is good, but nutrition and taste is more important]
I conclude with 2 suggestions for me (a student & teacher)
- For Me — A teacher: Have stuff in the matter I teach[first priority]. Improve the presentation styles & skills to make it reach students.
- For Me — the student: Demand always for teachers with depth and good presentations skills. If that is not available, make a conscious (very difficult) choice not to sacrifice depth at the altar of presentation skills.
And the final choice (if only one is allowed)…. I should opt to reach the depths… At least someone else would make it presentable. Other-way is not at all an option.
A word of caution: I am not defending bad presentation skills here; but pleading for a change in attitude. this may be applicable only in higher levels of teachings; in schools, you need effective skills.