Thursday, February 28, 2008

Knowledge? Or simply marks?

In keeping with my recent tradition of venting my spleen on the state of the educational system in India, this post is on the excessive emphasis on marks in the Indian educational system. This article by Rashmi Bansal, where she explores life in a top IIT coaching institute. And man, what a life! If you happen to belong to the rather large 99% of the Indian population that is not from IIT, heaven help you! Seriously, what do we want from our kids? To be the best? Or to actually learn
something useful? The emphasis seems to be increasingly on just getting the highest possible marks in everything. Of what use are those marks if you cant actually use any of the knowledge?

But, more than anything else, it is what Bansal says in the beginning of her post that is of utmost importance.
"I would only like to add that teaching is an art. The best teachers need not be highly regarded academics, or from IITs. The best teachers are those who know their subject AND communicate it interestingly and effectively. And a teacher who changes lives is one who exudes passion, and a sense of empathy."
Well said Rashmi! Teaching is definitely an art. A art that is both inherent and that requires a lot of patience, commitment and passion to master. The best teachers I have had have been mediocre students at best. But what sets them apart from the rest is that they love their job. They genuinely want to impart the little knowledge they possess. And most importantly, they have the guts to admit that they can sometimes be wrong. Trust me, as a teacher it is extremely difficult to admit that you are wrong. But sometimes you are. And you must admit it. It is an act of exemplary courage. And only a person who has that courage can be a good teachers. Teachers also encourage the students to question, analyse and interpret. I will never understand teachers who insist that the student reproduce the text book verbatim. What are they scared of? Of finding themselves incapable of answering a student's questions? If so, they have no business being teachers in the first place. I am sorry to have to be so harsh, but my heart bleeds when I see the state of education in India today. I wish I could change things. Some day, I hope to start my own school. Perhaps then, I could make a contribution, however minor, to changing the system.

1 comment:

Nita writes said...

Amri,

Let's not forget, that this article is by the same Rashmi Bansal whose article I vehemently critised for its grossly myopic view on people choosing to make lives for themselves in overseas destinations. I think she's copped a fair bit of criticism for that article and has therefore, decided to tone down a bit...

Anyways, how are you and what are you up to these days? i hardly get to hear from you which is really sad I reckon! Part of me wishes you never left Paris; atleast I had someone to talk to after a long, hard day @ work!