Open Your Mind: Beyond The Shackles Of A Rigid Curriculum

Posted on July 30, 2012 in Education

By Tanvi Bikhchandani:

Flexible–this word is seldom used to describe the Indian education system. As 16 year olds, we are made to choose a ‘stream’ in school– a fixed combination of subjects (from the sciences, commerce, or humanities track) that play a role in deciding the eventual career path. In college the curriculum is even more focused and specialized as students can only choose one or two elective classes from a limited variety.

Of course, it is understandable if incoming college students are unsure of the exact career/field they want to spend the rest of their lives in. Added to this is the immense parental pressure of pursuing professional degrees such as medicine, engineering, and law. In addition skyrocketing cut offs, insufficient seats, and reservation in universities drives a number of people to pick a reputed college over their preferred course.

Put all of these together, and what do you get? A large number of young people, pursuing subjects that they are not too passionate about. Or, students with enhanced knowledge in one field at the cost of another, thus creating one-dimensional skill sets.

Fortunately, technology has provided us with what years of education reforms could not. So, if you’re in medical school, and always wanted to take a philosophy class, or if you’ve had humanities but you wanted to learn how to code, fret not! There are many high quality online platforms where you can for FREE:

MIT OpenCourseWares (OCW): One of the first sites to come up with the concept of “free learning,” OCW boasts of content from nearly all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. No registration is required and users get access to actual courses taught by MIT professors previously. There are more than 30 departments ranging from Aeronautics to Political Science. Resources include lectures in the form of notes and videos, assignments, as well as online textbooks (www.ocw.mit.edu).

Coursera: It has been less then a year since it was launched, but Coursera already offers more than 100 courses from universities such as Caltech, Princeton, Stanford and Berkeley. The lectures are usually in the form of videos, some of which are currently ongoing at the relevant universities. The site also gives information about the professor taking the lecture, and the prerequisites for the class. Some unique courses offered are “Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World” and “Greek and Roman Mythology” (www.coursera.org).

Code Academy: This site is for those with little or no background in Computer Science. Completely interaction based, Code Academy does not offer lectures; it provides games, exercises, and projects of to its users, where difficulty increases on progress. Tracks offered include JavaScript –which is useful in making apps and games and HTML/CSS, which help in basic web designing. There are also options to learn a combination (www.codeacademy.com).

At the end of the day, education is what you make of it. So go out there, take advantage of the resources available to you, and widen your horizons.

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