Thinking ability or memorising powers?
What tests a student’s merit in our country? The exams. Board exams, university exams or the professional course exams. The ticking clock of those three hours tends to decide our fate nowadays. But can those three hours test our education and our capabilities? No.
The only thing exams can test is our retention powers during those three hours. Once it’s over we tend to forget most of it. Education indeed is a tricky concept.
The values we learn from our parents, our hobbies, going out and experiencing the world are also education. They all are, but they do not get an official stamp and so do not count and do not matter.
The Indian education system is geared towards cramming. Everything is against intellect building. The curriculum is outdated, and the teachers are uninterested in their job. The only purpose of going to college is getting a degree.
All of this is quite visible in the college semester system. The problem is not so much with the semester system, but in the manner of testing knowledge – through exams. We can look at foreign universities in the UK, for instance. They have a trimester system. But it is not taxing for the students or the teachers at all. It is because they do not necessarily have end-of-semester exams. They might have one at the end of the year. Some courses do not have even that. And in the semesters, they have ample time to test students through essays and presentations which students prepare by going beyond the prescribed core syllabus. They refer to as many books as possible. They discuss their thoughts with their teachers. The idea is to have an open mind, to experiment with their approach and to engage in a conversation with the text.
And what is the result?
The result is that all students come up with different perspectives, which is exactly what our system seems to proscribe. We need to tax our thinking ability and not our memorising powers.
Beyond this, this system is formulated in such a manner, that the parents too push the children to be a part of this rat race. Be it post 12th board exams, or after graduation, every entrance exam takes a toll on children as if their life hangs on it. Many children report ending up in depression due to the stress or committing suicide. Education in India is not for the faint-hearted.
We have good core readings, good teachers, good students, and better ways of educating ourselves apart from our classrooms. Then what do we need? To make them interact in a sensible way. Not that the current system is bad. The idea is to strive for betterment. And if that is possible, then why not?