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BACK ON THE ROAD - IN SEARCH OF DETOURS . . .

To consider this post as a solution, would be incorrect, as I offer no solutions. Equally inappropriate, it would be, to consider this as a vision, for I am no visionary. Nor is this my dream, for I am not sure if I would constantly pursue this as my purpose of life. Ideal would be to call this as a desire, which borders on hope, and which will have my effort at a pinch levels. Even better would be to call this post just as the heading conveys - finding or rather exploring possible detours on the road to peridition. . . .

This is the result of a chain of thoughts whose source I am not able remember, not that it matters. But I get this thought, whenever there is all this hype surrounding any examination results. As always, I wonder, if it is so very important, knowing very well, it was so, to me, on that day. Even if ONLY on that day.

As it is generally, the results had me pondering over the education system, and more specifically its relevance to career choices we make.

A person who I have come to know and respect of late, had once said this of the examination results - Results are not the most important thing in life. Why don't we simply award pass marks to all the students? Why don't we make them feel happy? This might even act as a confidence booster to them. By awarding low marks or worse, failing the students in couple of papers, we are not doing any good that kid or his life? Rarely, it makes him better. Mostly it pushes even further.

Nice little thought, on the face of it. Intention was genuinely good, atleast on the aspect of confidence. But I had one question, nay, one grouse, the result(?) of my rootless thoughts, taking deeper roots into my head for sometime now.

How would I know a person's strengths and weakness, without objectively evaluating all his papers or on all the subjects of his curriculum? Knowing our strength is one thing. Knowing your weakness is often taken differently (even by me). 'Know your weakness and correct the same' has been one of the diktats I have been preaching (not always practising though). But should I necessarily correct my weakness? The obvious answer would be "OBVIOUSLY". But thats not my point.

Let me restructure my question - Should I necessarily FOCUS on my weakness? You get the idea now. If not, this final iteration should do the trick for me - Should I necessarily focus on my weakness to the extent that I forget my strength?

The key to the above issue, specifically in matters relating to academics, education and career, lies in a few more questions on our education system, my following further thoughts, the original thoughts, the roots, I was referring to earlier.

Considering the range of career options to choose from, does our education system at our school levels specifically, help the kids to really get aware of them, of the alternatives? I think, we are making the kids, choose a career option, without completely knowing what are the alternatives available to them. Even when I type this, I realise that "knowing completely" is a mirage, and a practical impossibility.

As kids, they are made to learn dancing, singing, painting, musical instruments, sports, chess, claymodeling, gardening etc. Some are given extra inputs on mathematics, english, languages (Sanskrit, French, Hindi etc.). A few others learn Vedas.

As time progresses, especially during that four years, between 13 and 17, all the above referred learning are pushed to the rear seat. Often, completely thrown out through the window. That four years, is what I firmly believe is the consolidation period, for us to start knowing us, our likes and dislikes, and every other thing. During that four years, may be we are, instead of helping them realize their passion and strength, focussing our attention on the ritualistic studies which yells out scores out of hundreds in a select few subjects, which do not make up the even a tenth of horizon of career options available.

Are we creating such a scenario by which, we try to evaluate a student based on his or her marks, learn what is his or her strength and weakness, and go about taking, once again, the same ritualistic approach, to correct that weakness, for we try to find a career in that weakness? To put it more properly, having decided a career, we go about correcting any weakness, real or perceived, which might block progress towards that pre-fixed career option? Would such a career be closer to his heart and mind? I doubted it earlier, and now, I am convinced it is not any closer.

Instead why don't we realize that at the other end of the mark sheet, sometimes even outside of it, we can find his strength, and focus on to that, so that the person chooses a career in which he is really strong and passionate. Wouldn't this create a world in which everybody is into a field in which his strength lies? Wouldn't this translate into a life, in which people do what they are passionate about? Wouldn't such a world be good? Wouldn't it be better than the one in which we live, with majority of the working class, still fretting over, what they could have been?

Is it really that important to master Mathematics? Can't I be a writer or a poet or a historian or somebody else who does not need all those advanced mathematics and chinese signs as Mathematical symbols? Don't we need historians? Half the time we are redoing what was done and found centuries before.

Is there such a huge need for Software Engineers who have exceptional scores in Chemistry? Do we need a medical pro who should master statistics and mathematics? Does an accountant need such an extensive discourse of management studies? Why should a Management Graduate spill his guts trying to master Biology? Should an interior designer or a jewel designer necessarily learn physics for six or seven years?

Of what good is science or commerce, to people who have a great flair for writing? Except for a few who write on science or commerce, I don't see the need for a detailed study of these areas. A painter might offer clues to what scientists are looking out for. Or possibly, it might inspire them in search of newer things. Jules Verne, my favourite writer during school days, visualized a trip to moon in 1865 when Cars were still a rarity. Discussed things such as Air Conditioners, when Ceiling Fans were twenty years away.

Even the masters of rote learners will have a career to suit their strengths. Drama and Theatre. Or is it reallly bad to be part of media? I see lot of people disliking film and media, as if it is inundated by whores and gigolos, making them the untouchables of the modern day, forgeting that there are humans with great skills, tastes, style and intelligence among those perceived as sexual immorals (Shiney Ahuja and Shakthi Kapoor notwithstanding). Who knows, in future, role playing approach may become THE teaching model, and ideas might be demonstrated using visual methods, and without such "loose morals", even basic learning might become impossible!

Should we need a Sachin or Kapil or Gavaskar to come and inspire people to take up cricket? Should we necessarily wait for a Maradona to be born out of slums to take football to the masses? If Sania throws her bat, is that end of Sania wannabe's? Do we really need our history books loaded with "First and Only" Gold Medal and Silver Medals in international events? Can't sport be treated as a career (not just as alternative career).

Is it necessary that a person should take up a career-defining education at 17, get qualified by early twenties and jump into work? It makes me shudder to even think that kids start getting trained for IIT at 13! It was 16, then 15, and now Thirteen? Damn! At times the obsession to catch them YOUNG is taken to disastrous levels and certain people's obsession to have sired the youngest "BULLSHIT" makes me puke right at the source to make it barren!

With jokes of booking Kinder Garten seats with the kid still in womb, slowly becoming stark truth, I certainly wouldn't scoff at some research which would advise copulation in a particular mode to ensure a probable IIT Material being born and a different mode for better Accountant?!

Considering the longetivity we have achieved, can't ones education be so structured that education extends a couple of years further, so as to provide him or her with I would desire as completeness in learning. Completeness achieved with a gradual transition by developing a scenario such that at some stage, learning, training and practical applications, go hand in hand, under controlled environment, towards the end of which directional training be replaced by independent work.

Wouldn't it be appropriate that till around 17 or 18, the young turks are given an exposure to various avenues available for exploring and growing, knowing what is their weakness, and wherein lies their strength and passion, and then helping them make a proper decision to take up a career in one or two of them by around that time, and the real and intensive five six years of real training start then?

A training or education system, where each one is exposed to various avenues without scaring them of being socially isolated or economically backward. Can't we take the fear element out of the minds through some meaningful education, such that the kids can really see the future with greater clarity and hope? Without that fear, wouldn't we be free of hypocrites, lies and coverups? Without that fear, wouldn't we be all be blessed with that guiltless mind, which would soar even higher than what it is often seen as capable of accomplishing? Wouldn't it be really nice to have a education system which has matured enough not to be standardized, rather be customized, from being a education system which presently, for its success, relies on the maturity levels of its participants?

Even as I wander further, I realize the exponentially growing number of questions over endless possibilities to make a even better breed of humans, with few tangible answers on my plate.

And I guess, my mind will only wander, asking more questions, seeking more answers, more concrete answers, questioning them futher and in search of further detours, till I find that peaceful sleep, whose solution once again lies in finding the answers, the most appropriate detour . . . .

Comments

Ketan said…
Sai,

I've not read the post completey, and read it quickly. But one bigger problem with exam system is not that it evaluates strengths and weaknesses, but unfortunately that also is not done properly.

In my opinion, mathematics is not just about making arithmetical calculations faster than others. Or making a given set of data some or the other formula that would be memorized. Mathematics, at higher levels has lot to do with abstract concepts, like space, getting a qualitative idea from the shape of a graph. Understanding basic concepts like what area under the curve represents. But till at least twelfth standard, when are these taught.

In languages, is it only important to not make spelling mistakes? What happened to content and originality, and poignancy. So the greater tragedy is these exams don't even test what they purport to.

More later...

TC.

PS: My cell phone gprs connection has become nonfunctional. Will have to come to the cyber cafe each time I'd like to access the net. :( Planning to do that at and for some fixed time everyday.
G Saimukundhan said…
Ketan,

I did not consider the quality of exams or even the quality of evaluation, as I felt that it was covered in the earlier post (which invariably dealt with the examination system). I was just exploring the other aspects of the education system and thinking a bit loud on what it can be in the future.

As to your observations on Mathematics, had experienced it first hand. Most of those ideas, I am indirectly applying here. Never did I think that I would indirectly use a product of integral calculus, but I am. Around that time, it felt waste of time for no one I knew of had used it outside their exam hall.

On a different subject, was pleasantly surprised observe that you use your mobile phones for blogging! With a mobile phone, and such 'laborious' posts, you got to be a seriously a dude (rocketspeed fingers on mobile) and not a dud!

Cheers

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