A Tale of Love and Constructive Criticism

Truly has been said that good supervision is like good parenting. No words can actually define the relationship between supervisor and research scholar. I think if a supervisor comes with a fire extinguisher flying from her/his hand, the scholar should duck before him unwearyingly.I asked six academicians to share their recollections of Ph.D. supervision they received during the times of their doctoral programme. Three enjoyed excellent supervision that had deeply influenced their career. One was not interested in sharing the tutor-tutee experiences. Another had enjoyed this supervisor-supervisee relationship partially and the sixth one had found a matchless supervisor only of gnomic wisdom. The fact is that fortunate supervisees went on a great and successful academic career. Thus, it can be revealed that supervision influences the future academic success of students. A good supervisor has gigantic roles and responsibilities. S/he is a director, facilitator, advisor, teacher, guide, critic, freedom giver, supporter, friend, manager, evaluator, etc. S/he determines the topic and methodology of afresh study by taking into account the interest of her/his tutee, provides access to resources, advises and suggests the alternatives to problems faced by student in the study, is a teacher of research methodology and techniques, monitors the overall progress and development of research scholar, confers constructive criticism, supports the decisions of supervisee, extends support in non-academic life of a tutee, plans and packs the meetings and discussions regarding the research-based study, evaluates the strength and weak areas of student, etc. Supervision no doubt in contemporary times is considered as a specialized branch of teaching but its utmost aim and the basic principle is to develop the competent autonomy of students. I have been a registered Ph.D. research scholar on 5th May 2015 at School of Education, Central University of Kashmir. I began my Ph.D. work with almost no understanding of what was expected or required, merely possessing an enthusiasm of research, a concealed character, overwhelming feeling, a puppyish zeal and zest for knowledge. Contrary to it, my esteemed and unparalleled supervisor is one of the greatest educationists produced by the University of Kashmir. He is the recipient of two gold medals and presently is working as Senior Assistant Professor at the Central University of Kashmir besides served the University of Kashmir and higher education as well. At the beginning of my Ph.D. work, the academic credentials of my supervisor have made a little impression on me. But as the time grows, as my age matures and as my mind broadens, I begin to realize the significance of my supervisor for the overall scholastic growth and development. Communication and interactions between us were not easy always. Sometimes it was clear, kind and generous, and sometimes a tough and hard one. At times I was told that I must go ahead with my thesis work and at times I was stopped. At times I was being waited for longings due to his busy academic schedule and at times I was searching for excuses for my un-readiness of thesis work. Sometimes I was an active listener and sometimes an antagonism of it. But after the first six months of my Ph.D. course when my research work was floundering I came to realize that complete opposition is not always an intelligent process. Time had proven that my supervisor had been right and I been the wrong one in most of the discussions we held together.
With this dedication, today I take particular pleasure when my Ph.D. thesis evaluator and viva expert Prof. Namita Ranganathan, Dean & Head School of Education Delhi University, commented that ‘this Ph.D. manuscript is well written with paramount hard work and effective supervision’. So with his adroit and impeccable guidance, academic vision, perpetual inspiration, precious time, constructive criticism, inspiring mentorship, and constant encouragement during the entire course of my Ph.D. work, the masterpiece has finally seen the light of the day on 27th May 2019. I was lucky to be awarded as the first Ph.D. candidate from the School of Education Central University of Kashmir and the first Ph.D. awarder for my supervisor.
Data collection is a significant raw material for any type of research. Once I too was officially sent for surveying the target population to sample out the subjects for collecting the required data. The secondary school students of Kashmir valley were the target population for my study. Visiting entire Kashmir valley was my first experience. I remember whenever I faced problems in locating out any geographical land of Kashmir valley or finding difficulties in data collection, I used to seek guidance synchronously and asynchronously not from my parents and relatives but my supervisor only. Yet my supervisor never disappointed me in receiving my boring phone calls and in the end, we had wonderful data. After finishing out the data collection process and its analysis part, it was time to write down the thesis. My first Ph.D. thesis draft was described as one of the worst to read with so many deletions and modifications. This uncompromising verdict, which casts only my inky-fingers and painstaking editorial tasks, has not demotivated me in drafting the final version of my Ph.D. thesis; rather it has developed modeling relationships with the supervisor. Even time spent with the supervisor has allowed me to adopt certain elements of his writing and reading styles. It has also made me learned that Ph.D. is an organic process, focusing on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory. It takes a huge amount of time, rigorous reading, returning work quickly, an agreement and commitment with the supervisor. With this dedication, today I take particular pleasure when my Ph.D. thesis evaluator and viva expert Prof. Namita Ranganathan, Dean & Head School of Education Delhi University, commented that ‘this Ph.D. manuscript is well written with paramount hard work and effective supervision’. So with his adroit and impeccable guidance, academic vision, perpetual inspiration, precious time, constructive criticism, inspiring mentorship, and constant encouragement during the entire course of my Ph.D. work, the masterpiece has finally seen the light of the day on 27th May 2019. I was lucky to be awarded as the first Ph.D. candidate from the School of Education Central University of Kashmir and the first Ph.D. awarder for my supervisor. In addition to being an excellent supervisor, he is a man of principles who always treated me as his brother. I am really indebted to him more than he knows. The support has never stopped. Today working with him in the education department is a blessing from Almighty Allah and the consequence of his sheer guidance. In the department, I am receiving the same conducive and congenial learning environment about how to undertake well-designed experiments, write scientific papers, face interviews, deal with constructive criticism and be rigorously self-evaluative, etc. I ask myself over the years, what have I done for him? The short and captivating answer is not even a little. But at least I will always bow intrinsically before the fire extinguisher flying from my supervisor, if, towards me.
(The author is Assistant Professor (Contractual) at the School of Education, Central University of Kashmir. Views are his own)
sajadzcuk@gmail.com

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