Well, this ‘news’ is a bit stale but I can’t help it. I was in Bangalore and this happened. Anyway, a local newspaper (tabloid rather) conducted a test on some our very own toppers (or ‘mayyreet rankuuurr’ in Marathi) on GK and most of them failed miserably. I don’t blame them. The system of mugging up the answers and regurgitating it out on paper is to blame. And the questions were not exactly lifted from the finals of TCS Crucible Lateral Connect round (which, if you don’t know, is so tough that you won’t even understand the answer even when you are told the answer). They were just asking the President of India, BCCI full form of SEZ and very basic GK questions which most people would (or rather should) answer at least 70% correctly. The toppers ended up with scores like 2/10 and 3/10. I don’t mean to say that all toppers are dumb. That would be hara-kiri. But not all the meritorious students are, well, to put it right, good. The definition of a good student would not be one who gets full grade or tops the class but one who is conceptually strong in his area or subject, whatever it be. The ICSE and CBSE systems of education are a bit ahead with their project oriented methods where students are made to think. I don’t know about CBSE but, in ICSE, the main emphasis is on the core points which an answer should have. If those vital points are covered by the student, then full marks are awarded, no matter what style, diction or language a student uses. The project system of working has helped me and lots of my friends to think better and more productively.
One such instance is where one of my friends, in a course for market research, had to choose a thesis topic and present a student thesis paper proving his assumptions correct. What he did was to research books and chose a good topic and started work on it, being given 2 weeks’ time which in his words was less. What some smartasses did was to submit a survey with the observations. When the guy complained that that was not a thesis, the teacher handed him lesser marks as an explanation for arguing. This incompetence on the part of teachers causes good students to lose hope and determination to succeed which is akin to killing. What most colleges do is hand out marks so that their results look good. But when the students actually go into the industries, they find it difficult to cope up. Well even in our own college, everyone knows what happens when one is assigned a project to do. We totally rely on Page & Brin’s baby (which incidentally was their college project).
One more though to ponder upon is our tendency to celebrate toppers. Ceremonies are held where the minister presents medals and certificates to the students. They are immediately on TV and all the local newspapers. I’m not saying we stop celebrating. It’s a huge achievement to top a whole country obsessed with marks. Parents push their children to come in the merit list, NOT to know the subject well. This is a huge setback for the students who have missed out. There is a complete loss of self belief and frustration creeps in.
There are lot of other things to say, so I shall keep this post in two parts. I won’t rant on any longer. One important issue is when parents force their kids to go for engineering or medical studies. That I shall continue in the next part.
PS: I have not even looked at the post twice. It’s a straight from-the-heart post with no editing. This has been on my mind for quite a long time and its intensity was magnified after our summer placements.