Coaching Classes: Cause Or Effect?

Posted on April 25, 2011 in Education

By Shalaka Nitin Desai:

In a race to excel more than most of one’s competitors, coaching classes along with other institutions have become a resort for the ‘betterment’ of students’ academic performances. In a world where students commit suicide for not having scored a few marks more, high school and college-going students attending these classes has now become routine.

Today, coaching classes have become ubiquitous in the lives of city students. It is impossible to imagine students’ lives w/o them. They are simultaneously a compulsion, and at the same time criticized a lot for spoiling education, students’ lives, standard of schools etc. Due to almost all students attending coaching classes in cities, the interest of school teachers to impart knowledge to students has now started dipping gradually. Mrs. Rekha Nalawade, a high school teacher of Marathi at SVPT, Thane said, “Students do not pay utmost attention in classes when we teach them. This is because they have already learnt it in their coaching classes and presume that they have a lot of knowledge on that subject. This lowers our motivation to perform our best. But when questioned, they usually fail to be up to the mark.” Mr. Ankush Sawant, a Sanskrit teacher from the same school endorses this opinion and claims that these classes create an illusion of knowledge in the minds of students who carry around their half-baked knowledge proudly!

According to a study undertaken by Stanford University, college student coaching improves retention and graduation rates. True, the approach in these classes is centered towards marks and better academic performance. But it is our education system which is to blame since it weighs the students’ standings on the brilliance of his score-card. Practical exams in science are given a sufficiently low weightage as compared to theory which, though humongous in its extent can be managed due to assistance in rote learning given by the classes the students attend. In coaching classes for high schools, students are literally made to write formulae, theorems many times (which they just copy from textbooks or additional notes) before an actual test is taken on that topic. Many times, students are ‘encouraged’ to accept things as given in the textbooks without arguments or doubts that may arise out of inquisitiveness.

Hammering of the matter into the students’ heads by means of continuous reiteration in written or oral form has become the way most coaching classes function today. Mathematical ‘magic tricks’ are taught without the students actually understanding the reasons behind why things happen the way they do ‘magically’!

Professors in these classes teach a single concept in many different classes. Hence they virtually have it at the tips of their tongues. Repetition of the same concept in the nth class having more or less the same kind of students requires no genius. Yet, they represent youth, liveliness and energy since most of them are recent graduates. Students admire them even beyond their academic connections. It is a well known fact that girls tend to develop obsessions and crushes on young and suave professors and don’t hesitate to stalk them outside classes and crave to peep into their non-professional lives. Does XYZ sir have a girlfriend? If yes, ‘Oh, NO! My prospects look bleak now *disheartened giggling*’. A few successful attempts to acquire their favourite professors’ email IDs and phone numbers, and these girls start falling into teenage lovey-dovey illusions. In case, the teacher is sensible, he might ignore the girl for good. But there have been many cases wherein they have taken undue advantage of girls who are foolish enough to happily set a trap for themselves. Hiranand Achhara, a professor at a coaching class said, “It is not the fault of the institution if such situations arise. Parents must warn their kids not to get involved in such matters and that they must maintain a strictly professional connection with the classes.”

Attending high-school coaching classes is not only a waste of time for students who are sincere and would study under any conditions, but also a burden for ones who are basically not interested in studying. Such students who have a keen interest in pursuing extra-curricular activities during their last few years at school cannot do so, on account of long hours spent at coaching classes. This hampers their later years if they want to pursue careers in fields that are non-academic. Almost all students today who attend extra classes have lost their evening play time. Incidents of backaches, neckaches, eye-related problems, obesity have been increasing among students and all of them can be mostly attributed to sitting in classes for hours at a stretch without any physical activity whatsoever. Students prefer to chat on the internet in their free time because they are bored to touch any kind of books after successive school and classes sessions. Hence, they miss on a valuable treasure trove of books which are responsible for their all-round development at that age. No doubt, lessons are made fun and interesting in coaching classes, but they are mostly so at the cost of efficient and conceptual understanding. On a different note, these classes introduce students to ones from different schools across the city and reveal the amount of competition which exists beyond their little circle of friends.

Akida Wahi, an undergraduate student from a college in Pune and and originally from of Delhi said, “Coaching classes at the school-level are completely unnecessary. They become a burden and students neglect other likings like swimming, karate etc. At the college level, a good coaching class is a must since one needs extensive practice and continuous and expert guidance for entrance exams which unfortunately our colleges fail to provide us. But parents must gauge their wards capabilities in the board exam syllabus before pushing him/her for preparing for the entrance exams.” Gautami Srivastava, a student who has completed her high-school and junior college education in Shimla claims that coaching classes help only the intelligent lot and the ones who are sincere. For others, she agrees that they are a burden.

On the lines of the typical ‘chicken and egg syndrome’, coaching classes have given rise to a controversy on whether the coaching classes have arisen due to inefficiency of the teachers at schools or vice versa i.e. the schools have started getting increasingly inefficient with the encroachment of coaching classes on their space. All kinds of teachers have existed in schools – those who do not handle their assignments well enough, along with the better ones. They charge higher for helping their students get higher marks. Anyhow, we can agree that they are a by-product of capitalism and those enrolling for them must try to make the most out of them as aware customers and those not doing so must learn to do without them! Individuals are not to take decisions as a herd, but as per their individual needs. Economist Jean-Baptiste Say claimed that supply creates its own demand. Does this hold true in case of coaching classes?