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NTU denies journalism prof tenure, deems lectures too well-attended

Posted on 25 February 2013

cherian georgeNTU, Singapore’s third best university, got more than it bargained for when it denied tenure to Associate Professor Cherian George, supposedly because he wasn’t up to scratch as a teacher.

It pissed off a bunch of journalism students, who took to Facebook and Twitter to broadcast their outrage, even creating a wordy petition to protest the decision. This is the second time Prof George, who is outspoken about the government-controlled media, has been denied tenure.

Now, a member of NTU’s tenure committee has come out to deny all allegations that political motives were involved in this decision. He also elaborated on the university’s judging criteria.

“We pride student independence above all. Prof George’s lectures are filled to the brim with attentive students, while a typical engineering lecture has only about 5-10% attendance,” said Prof Kong Si Mi, an electrical engineering lecturer.

With Singapore becoming an increasingly cosmopolitican society, lecturers that can speak in a strange foreign accent are a bonus, even if students find them unintelligible.

“So many foreigners are now crowding our trains and taking up middle management positions, as such it is imperative that Singaporeans learn to communicate with them,” he said, adding that Prof George uses Singlish occasionally, a big no-no in the university’s guidelines.

Other criteria used to judge a lecturer’s effectiveness include the ability for bad humor, ineffective analogies, and being able to mumble on incessantly in the face of bored looks.

Agreeing with Prof Kong is Jin Chao Keng, a fourth-year engineering student.

“I enjoy my lecturer’s lessons because his accent is conducive for my power naps. The air conditioning is just right too. All I need to do is listen attentively for 5 minutes and the sleeping spell will set in.”

Jin adds that he is a proponent of self-directed learning who often sources for notes from his foreign friends, who seem more attentive in class and like to pepper the lecturer with questions. The flexibility gives him time to pursue his interests in train otaku-ing.

“I learn more reading from the textbook and perusing the notes,” he said.

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