Published in The Hive- Sometime around April 2011
It’s exam time and if I don’t crib now, I’ll have lost my chance for another year or so. What is it about exams that causes nervous anxiety to some people and disgust to others. Now, there are all kinds of people in the world and I have a feeling most of them are okay with getting used to stuff, to accept the way the world is and to uncomplainingly and unquestioningly accept the farsight and intellect of all those educationists who’ve devised this system, this education system which has lately been hailed as the finest in the world, and to believe that this is the right path for an entry into the IITs and eventually into Infosys or IIM-A. Nothing against all those colleges or those aspirations. All I’m worried about is where is this taking us; we have schools which start IIT coaching from class 6, which have kids mug up equations and an exam pattern which only cares about how much of his stuff, the student has successfully puked on the answer sheet.
A lot of us have spoken about it, the need to change, the need to revamp and the incredulity of some people who think a well paying software job is all it takes to keep anybody happy. The schools have to be ashamed of the way they’re treating kids. And the educationists more so. Forget about schools, buy a Spectrum all-in-one, do a one night stand and you are an Engineer passing out with distinction. What the fuck is wrong with everybody. I personally know people who’re Software Engineers with an aggregate of 70+ and can’t write a C program. What has a C program got to do with his ability, you ask? Only as much of ability assessment that is done by somebody who’s correcting the answer script, who’s never known this guy and who’s only chance of rating him is that 40 pages of answer booklet that’s in his hands. And all of us know, how much really JNTU corrections make us proud.
I’m no educationist, no scholar not the author of the prestigious “How to Teach and Rate kids 101?. I’m just a student of this acclaimed education system who’s depressed writing his exams because he’s lost all belief in them because they do not kindle his inspiration. Complaining and cribbing, am I? Then let me sound that way. Because though I know I’m better than somebody in the subject, I always end up scoring less because I lack the photographic memory needed to reproduce the answers like they are in the all-in-one. Maybe that’s a talent too but I didn’t know Engineers had to be adept at writing exams more than writing code.
I’m not saying everybody who’s a 70% has taken the shorter route. Because there are people out there who’ve gotten 70, who’re really good with the subject and who have the ability and deserve to pass with distinction. And isn’t that what distinction really means. What this system is doing is that it’s taking the sheen off the people who really are deserving. Nobody seems to be trusting in the system anymore, and sadly, nobody seems to give a shit about it.
Ok, I’m done yelling what is wrong with it. I have a right to do that but it also endows me with a responsibility to tell what I think is right. At the core of it, I see three dramatic changes:
1. Take the emphasis from reproducing to applying. This system has been in place in India for a long time now and it’s high time it evolves. Ten years ago mugging up might have made sense but not now anymore. Anything I want, be it a syntax, or a formula, a stat or an important date or a person’s name can be found at the click of a button. The Web has given us that leeway. Instead of asking what the syntax is, ask them to write a program for an application. And everybody knows everybody studies from the all-in-one. Let the person who’s setting the paper know that no question, atleast directly, should be found in the all-in-one. Solves half the problem.
2. A shift of evaluation from the External to the Internal and instead of one exam, an evaluation technique which tests the consistency over a period of time. That gives people a lot more freedom to experiment all over the year and to take every class seriously, instead of the “one day batting” everyone does.
3. And thirdly, most importantly, keep the answer scripts open. Upload all of them onto the web so that anybody can see anybody else’s answer script and ask the person who’s corrected those scripts as to what made him award more marks to one person and less to the other. Keeping it open has the person who corrects the papers answerable and the students know if they’ve done well, they have every right to inquire and ask.
I don’t know if people have pondered over all these but I have a feeling this would make the system better because we are in desperate need of a change. And before I end, the next time you find a school management telling you they start IIT coaching in Nursery or something, slap them hard.