Abe Eshelman - The Penn

(Abe Eshelman/The Penn)

IUP English professor Tim Hibsman poses with “Teacher Plus” magazine for his article “Uniforms Suck.”

India hosts the largest youth population in the world, with more than 600 million people under the age of 25 living there.

As a result, education is also a large and growing part of Indian society, with more and more students seeking high school and university educations each day. Due to the high demand for teachers and importance of a quality education, instructional and support material for (and by) teachers has become popular. 

One such magazine is called “Teacher Plus,” which usually shows the writings and advice of teachers from throughout India.

However, in the August 2019 issue of “Teacher Plus,” IUP English professor Tim Hibsman submitted an anecdotal article called “Uniforms Suck: Teaching Through Consequence.”

“Uniforms Suck” is a short anecdote, focusing on a conversation between a mother and son. 

The son does not wish to wear his school uniform and complains about them being lame and making him “look like everyone else.” The mother lectures him, telling him he has to wear it in order to go to school. 

After the son says that he would rather not go to school than wear the uniform, she berates him with the hypothetical downward spiral of alternative uniforms one could wear in life without education, including a fast food employee’s uniform, a military uniform or even a prisoner’s uniform. 

The student admits defeat and agrees with his mother, heading off to join his identically dressed classmates.

Hibsman wrote the article because “a lot of Indian schools have uniforms.” Students seem to complain about the uniforms and seek individuality and expression in any way they can, so shoes and hats, for example, can become “an identity.” 

Hibsman said that he’s “written several articles for the magazine,” even though “it’s usually only for Indian faculty.” 

He’s even been considering writing a book or taking a trip to India to work with the schools he has made connections with through “Teacher Plus.” 

Hibsman wrote on the topic of consequences, cause and effect, because of the importance that plays in his area of expertise, simulation learning. 

“There are always two approaches, positive and negative,” he said. 

Understanding the consequences of your actions is important to Hibsman, especially in his primary subject, technical writing.

“In technical writing,” he explained, “we talk about ‘bloopers,’ meaning any kind of mistake in the writing.” 

He gave the example that in any medical document, a blooper could have dangerous consequences for an individual’s health and well-being, or how any poor choice in an interview, or blooper on your resume, could “make or break the job for you.” 

Hibsman’s interactions with “Teacher Plus” go beyond just writing, and he has even been invited to visit and lecture at universities in India. 

They were very interested in simulation learning, the style of learning through scenarios such as a virtual interactive surgery or an interactive model of a damaged door. 

Hibsman believes his work is liked by, and important to, the professors behind “Teacher Plus” due to the escapist nature of technical writing and of simulation learning. 

These two subjects give the student a window into the world of their careers and let them temporarily leave the standard classroom environment. 

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