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Webster’s New World Hacker Dictionary by Bernadette Schell and Clemens Martin defines protocol as – “a set of rules governing how communications between two programs have to take place to be considered valid. It describes various ways of achieving and operating compatibility.” If there is anything like ‘academic protocol,’ undoubtedly it is undergoing dilution.

The degree of formality built in the education system with specific reference to the relation between the teacher and the student is changing and the changes are not subtle but sharp and at times startling. An illustration: An email I received from a student who had completed her Summer Internship and was in the process of report writing – Hi Mam J please read the attached report. Go thru (sic) it. You can make corrections. Or let me know the changes. Feel free to do that. Bye J

This email made me realize we are all equals! How could I forget that? Students greet you with a hi and bye; wish to be friends with you on Facebook; want your personal phone number; will send a message via Whatsapp to let you know that they’ll be late for the class; will tell you that cool colours suit you the best; will not hesitate to ask for hints or get a sneak preview of the exam questions.  The British era type of formality of Good Morning and Yours sincerely is fast shrinking.

We sure are equals but the lack of formality renders the communication a very casual dimension that robs off the essence of knowledge transmission via the student-teacher relation. This casual approach is most likely to continue in future too. What goes as okay or acceptable to a small degree gets magnified with the passage of time and turns troublesome. This may mean reaching a stage where corrections become nearly impossible.

What lies at the background of this casual communication is a nonchalant attitude towards formal learning and therefore towards all the stakeholders in the formal learning setup. The rigid formality and the accompanying anxiety is not being hailed, but we must not let the dilution of seriousness towards learning and ensure due respect to the guides and knowledge providers.

Ms. Deepti Kakar

Associate Professor

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