The Quintessence of Education

Does being certified by a recognized university, in any way, guarantee the proficiency of an individual? Does the benchmark used for assessment do justice for evaluating qualitative work in terms of quantitative marks or GPA? Is that a boon or bane? Many political leaders, teachers and students have, since the past decade, tried to make education more effective as it’s meant to be.

Today, there is a little room for innovation and creative thinking. Students are merely restricted to learning “ideas” and reproducing the same “ideas” as-it-is in the examination. Plagiarism is quite ubiquitous in today’s world be it for projects, assignments or even exams! It seems to be more of a memory test than testing conceptual understanding.

Many argue that we are not using the complete brain or they punch in some numbers like we use “9%” of our brain. The sad thing is our brain is not made for memorizing things, but it is made to take informed decisions. Frankly, how many of you remember what you learned in your 6th or 7th grade? The aim of education should not be to memorize the maximum(quantitative number) of facts and reproduce the same in the exam but it should build an individual who can logically deduce situations and solve day-to-day problems. Liberty should be given in respect of choice of subjects.

Facts can always be referred as and when required in print or electronic form. As Einstein once said “I would be more interested in learning why battles in history were fought rather than memorizing dates of their occurrence”.

With this being said, I’m not endorsing the view that the current education system is completely ‘inadequate’. I would like to see some drastic changes in the approach of teaching and conductance of examinations. More emphasis can be given on conceptual understanding by reinforcing creative thinking amongst students. This can be achieved by introducing “What-if” type questions and questions forcing students to think. Questions related to deriving a relation, stating definitions and reproducing the ideas can be done away with completely. The pattern of examination should not be known to students in advance. If the student has really understood the principles behind a particular topic he should be able to answer it no-matter what the pattern is.

Mathematics should not be about memorizing multiplication tables and formulas but it should be all about deductive reasoning from the known axioms/theorems.
Language should be given its due importance in subjects like Economics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology. Generally, students are not penalized for grammatical errors. This is insalubrious as we do need citizens who can communicate well along with a good command over their subject.

The word “cutoff” is enough to give jitters to any fresh out-of-high school student. And we see coaching classes leveraging this fact for their maximum commercial profit. The focus today is more on getting “marks“. I cannot understand how quantitative marks translate into a realistic profile of the student. How does this make an individual “intelligent” or “dull” as they call it?

It is well established fact that the marks scored in board examinations have little or no-correlation with an individual’s career. Yet, all the institutions today during the admission season eliminate a large number of applicants based on marks, whether that may be in the entrance exams or the board exams.

In any case, the facts are there before us which indicate that the quality of students securing admissions is deteriorating despite “tougher” entrance exams and “higher” cut-offs.

Including “Chemistry” as a parameter to decide eligibility for a course like Computer Engineering does not make any sense whatsoever. Granted that it is an analytical subject but using it as a predictor to decide eligibility for a stream like CSE may not motivate programmers, especially the gifted ones who aced Informatics Olympiads in the past.

Much reforms are needed in our education system today to truly “assess” the “understanding” of an individual.

Comments are closed.