Teaching and Research

– Deepak Subedi
I would like to quote a Chinese proverb to begin my article. “To hear is to forget, to see is to remember and to do is to understand”. In fact, to understand something one has to go through it. Hearing and seeing are not enough. This fact is of crucial importance in teaching as well as in research. Teaching is an art of transferring knowledge to create new knowledge. However, research is neither an art that can be taught nor a set of rules and regulations to follow. It is a skill that can be acquired and whose acquisition can be supported by training. It is not the case that one day we are unskilled in a field and the next day we are experts. There are steps and phases in the acquisition of skills. It requires a continuous effort for a long time in a particular area to be skilled.
In the words of Peter Baumgartner and Sabine Pyar, research based education system became necessary because of the interconnected problems, rapidly changing unstable environments and indeterminate future of the modern society. The conventional teaching methods consist of procedural knowledge for solving pre-defined problems. Several evidences have shown that traditional education system has not been successful in stimulating creative thinking in students. What is required for the students is the active skill of framing problems, designing desirable changes and inventing ways to bring these changes about. The complex nature of the problems in modern society show that much of the knowledge that students have been taught cannot be helpful in real- life problems. They are taught to solve a particular type of pre-defined problems and this knowledge certainly cannot help in solving newly emerging complex problems.   
Cloude Cohen says that research and teaching are complementary activities which cannot be dissociated. In fact, if a teacher gives lectures without doing research the lectures becomes rapidly obsolete because such lectures do not follow the progress of science. On the other hand, it is very important for a research scientist to give lectures for improving his/her research. When a researcher tries to explain scientific concepts in the clearest possible ways, he/she gets new interesting ideas and physical insights which can stimulate new directions of results. This is perhaps an exact explanation of the relation between teaching and research. Hence research and teaching are complements of each other.  
Currently, I am involved in research in the field of surface energy of polymers which consists of measurement of contact angle of liquid drops made on solid surfaces. I am giving my lectures in the same filed for the students of applied science. In my experience,  I have found that my research work has helped me a lot in my teaching whereas the preparation of regular lectures has given me new insights in my research work. I am of the opinion that new generation of students should be taught on research-based education system so as to enable them to fight with the new challenges of the rapidly developing world.
Works Consulted
  • Baumgartner, P., Pyar, S. Learning as action: A social science approach to the evaluation of  interactive media: Carlson, P., Makedon, (eds) F. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 96, AACE Charlottesville, 1996, pp-31-37.  
  •  Claude Cohen Jannoudji. Adventure with cold atoms in: One Hundred Reasons to    be a scientist, 2nd Ed, ICTP, 2004.
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