With flashy and somewhat hollow promises of finding well-paid jobs, the Economics (Hons) course attracts a lot of students every year. However, it seems like a lot of students who pursue Economics (Hons) in college are now regretting it because so many of them struggle with the contents of the course, and many end up taking regular tuitions to cope up.
My experience of studying the subject in college has been drastically different from what it was in school. I used to enjoy economics in school. Ever since college started, the subject mostly stresses me out. There is a huge gap between what is taught in school and the curriculum in college. There also exists very little awareness about this essential difference between studying economics in school and college. In school, there is an introduction to the fundamental theories and laws, but college introduces a significant amount of mathematics and statistics, making it hard for some students to grasp and cope up with the subject. Being strong at mathematics is a prerequisite for most economics related courses – something which many people realise after enrolling in the course.
College is supposed to expand your horizons and teach you how to think and critique independently and taking tuition often negates that purpose. A student of Economics (Hons), Abhishek Pathak, strongly opposing the tuition culture, says: “Our lecturers try to make us more efficient in the field by giving us complex situations which may or may not be in the syllabus. But coaching centres and tuition provide the students with notes which make them lazy and also ruin their ability to think in a creative way.”
Many teachers believe that students take tuition as a shortcut to score marks and thereby miss out on or bypass understanding the subject. However, since we are conditioned to just ‘score well’ in India, students are under a lot of pressure and often see no other option but to prioritise marks over honing critical thinking skills. It’s also important to acknowledge that a lot of teachers do not encourage discussions, dialogue and debates, which play a vital role in understanding the subject.
As John Maynard Keynes, a philosopher and economist, said, “The master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts. He must reach a high standard in several different directions and must combine talents not often found together. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher – in some degree.” But to accomplish this, equal importance must be given to fields other than math. However, for students who are looking to pursue Economics (Hons), don’t let the dominance of math deter you. Institutes like Christ University, Ashoka University and OP Jindal Global University, offer courses which promise to provide holistic learning of the subject with the minimum use of mathematics.
Despite all that is going wrong, I still believe that economics is a beautiful subject. Teachers and students need to work together to make sure that the course structure for Economics (Hons) is redesigned or else many students will continue to aim to ‘score well’ rather than understanding and enjoying the subject. Economics gives students the confidence to logically interpret data; it teaches them to forecast the future of our economy accurately and to make effective policies. Hence, I would encourage people to study it and would hope that the course is restructured in a way that students who are average at math do not struggle to make it till the end.