Educate, Not Replicate

Posted on December 30, 2009 in Education

Monadhika Sharma:

The fever of 3 Idiots is high. College and school students are keeping the city movie complexes house full, even for a weekday early morning show. Probably they are glad there is someone somewhere who understood their woes revolving around books. Probably, if they drag their parents along to the movie theater, they can subtly tell them “Let me breathe free, unfetter me from your dreams and expectations.” Probably that is the reason for the mind-boggling craze surrounding the movie.

Indian parents are a part of a worldwide rat race of “my son brightest!” and while they run to grab the first position, they do not realize trampling over their offspring’s dreams and wishes. So does the Indian education system really deserve the criticism shown in the movie? Loukik Arora, a student of DIPSAR (Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research), says, “Our education system is such that if we want to learn, we have to do it completely on our own. It gives only theoretical knowledge and no practical experience. Read books, get through exams that’s it. It doesn’t prepare you for life, just examination halls.” His opinion is clearly reverberated in the movie.

Let alone the pressure in the higher education, even nursery students are sent for tuition just to make them habitual of spoon feeding for the rest of their lives. Due to increasing competition, even 90% aggregate doesn’t suffice the expectations of the ‘ambitious parents’. Steps are being taken to reduce the pressure of academics by scrapping off board exams at the tenth class level and introduce the grading system instead. As Sakshi Mittal, a student of MDU puts it, “With due respect to all the changes that the Sibal government is making, I think that even now the approach of teaching through a student’s own experience is missing. The laboratories in schools are deteriorated and so is the curriculum. And even today, we study to earn and not to learn.”

So what we need now is a revolution in the method of imparting knowledge and probably making the whole approach more heuristic. Simran Singh, computer engineering student at NSIT has a different take on this, “This education system cannot be completely wrong since it produces the one of the greatest minds of the world. But these brains lack application based training. To cite an example the IITs have not produced even a single new worthy invention in the past 2 decades the reason being less focus on practical knowledge.”

This implies that the problem does not lie in the curriculum, but rather with the administration and the methods adopted to impart education. Every seventh grade student knows that a minus is ‘-‘ and a plus is ‘+’ but few understand what subtraction or addition actually is. They are asked to rote the algorithm and simply apply that to get the answer. This calls for the narrowing down of the syllabus but increasing the depth of what is taught. In higher education, there should be more options for the students to choose so that they have the liberty to study the subjects of their choice, and thus have interest in what they study. Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist with the New Yorker, said this in an interview, “Someday, very soon, all of us in America will be working for all of you in India. Be kind to us!”

The world knows the potential of a single Indian mind; we have a billion brilliant of them with untapped caliber. If an educational regime is introduced that can concentrate this capability we certainly do have the power to make Gladwell’s prediction come true!

What do you think?

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The writer is a Delhi based Correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student of Computer Engineering at the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology.


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