The choices we make as teachers
“She wasn’t like you…wasn’t like any politician I’ve ever known.”
Ethan Kanin, Secretary of State about US president Allison Taylor in the US serial, 24
When an ethical dilemma arises, the choices we make decide our ethical concerns and moral position in a given situation. In the TV serial, 24, the US president faces such an ethical dilemma when she has to either cover up for her daughter’s crime or get her arrested. She is torn between the role of a mother and that of a President. She chooses her sworn duty to protect the country and has her daughter arrested. She gives precedence to her duty as the President of a country over her mother’s role.
We encounter such ethical dilemmas in our lives. I was working as a professor in one of the medical schools in the Caribbean region. The medical school in the Caribbean offers courses in pre- and para-clinical subjects and after the completion of these courses, the students are sent for clinical rotation to a medical school in the USA. After successfully completing the clinical rotation, they undergo internship and then they are awarded their degree in medicine.
When I taught at the medical school, I enjoyed the confidence of the students. I found that the contract between the Caribbean medical school and the medical school in the USA had been cancelled and, therefore, the students could not complete their clinical rotation. To gain the confidence of the students and to circumvent the situation, the management asked me to bring my son to the School as a pre-medical student. They said they would waive the fees and he could graduate from the school. I informed my son in India about the possibility of being a medical student in the Caribbean island. My son was very happy and informed all his friends and family about joining the pre-medical school in the West Indies.
I realised that they were using my son as a ploy to gain confidence and to cover up for their broken contract with the US medical school. I had to face the dilemma of whether to be a father to my son or a teacher to my students. The medical school had waived the fees of approximately US$ 75000. I told my son not to travel and chose to remain a loyal teacher to my students. In the process, I lost the confidence of my son and the support of the management. I did not care about the management for they were cheating students who are like my own children. Yet from that day onwards, my son carried a grudge so strong that it left a big dent in our relationship. I have to live with his grudge lifelong, but I did save those students from falling prey to such a situation. Those students work in their leisure time and save money to pay their tuition fees semester-wise.
I thought I would save the sons and daughters (my students) as well as my own son from joining a medical school wherein he/she may or may not graduate. Remember, as a teacher I was very successful but as a father, my image fell in the eyes of my son. From that day onwards, he thinks I am not a good father but a great teacher.
DS Sheriff, ([email protected]), Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Kancheepuram, Chennai, 603 319