Thursday, March 6, 2014

Farce called Education

Essay

The earlier system of education focused on academic excellence and competition.  The results in written assessments determined the future of the students.  One obtained the career of his choice depending on the scores obtained in various exams. 

The system engendered a lot of frustration among many students whose career aspirations were snuffed out by the rat race.  Quite many lives ended even before they began.  Suicides were not uncommon even in institutions of higher learning.  Educators and other guardians of the society were alarmed.  They came to the conclusion that a change in the system was called for.

Coupled with the gloom of frustration and suicides was the awareness that arose in psychology that IQ (intelligence quotient) was not necessarily the measure of a person’s intelligence.  Psychologists as well as educationists came up with theories that pushed abstract intelligence out of the limelight.  Robert Sternberg (1949- )posited the triarchic theory of intelligence, according to which people possess 3 different types of intelligence in varying degrees and each type is important in attaining success in different fields.  The 3 intelligences are: (1) analytical intelligence (measured by the normal IQ tests), (2) practical intelligence: the skills needed to cope with everyday demands and to manage oneself and other people effectively, and (3) creative intelligence: the skills needed to deal adaptively with novel problems.

Another psychologist  Howard Gardner (1943- ) spoke about 9 intelligences.  According to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, the ability to dance, play games, understand and relate to others, etc are all intelligences. 

Educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999) had already suggested that education should take care not only of the cognitive domain (traditional education) but also the affective (emotions) as well as the psychomotor (practical skills needed for wielding tools, etc) domains.

Educationists all over the world (including India) adopted/adapted these theories in different ways in order to make learning creative as well as interesting.  CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) became a fad in the Indian educational system.  Students were to be awarded marks for anything they do that may reveal a spark of creativity or at least some skill.  Students suddenly started getting a lot of marks for they knew not what. 

CCE could have been a successful venture had teachers been given the necessary training to implement it.  The fact is that a sizeable proportion of teachers do not even know what its spirit is.  So the letter of the law is practised and the objectives remain farfetched.

Worse, education has become a big joke for the students.  In the name of activities, they perform any clowning and are awarded marks.  In the name of projects, they copy entire texts from the internet and attach some pictures copied again from the internet and are awarded marks.  Teachers cannot give below pass marks in any of these.  In fact, teachers are encouraged to mark generously by the system itself. 

As a result, learning is farce rather than fun, self-destructive rather than creative.  More menacingly, the entire value system of the students is turned topsy-turvy.  They learn to manipulate the system rather than use it creatively.  Life inevitably seeks the paths of least resistance.  The teacher becomes a kind of clown in the circus trying to maintain a sane balance between stunt and buffoonery.

Add to these the eradication of punishments.  It’s not just corporal punishments that have been abolished.  Anything that a student can interpret as “intimidating” can be reported and the teacher may be replaced with a fresh hand that the management is happy to take on for a lesser remuneration.  The teacher can count herself fortunate if her “intimidation” does not land her behind the bars.

Then there are the gadgets like the smart phones and the tablets with which students keep themselves busy during their leisure.  Real human society is substituted with the virtual world of SMSes, chat sites and social networks.  It’s a world without real responsibilities.  The farce becomes complete. 

Oxford historian, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, argues in his eminent book titled Civilizations that civilizations do not grow or develop or evolve; they just change in different ways.  We interpret the changes as growth or development or evolution according to our needs or perspectives.  Is the current phase of education a growth?

“We need to feel badly about ourselves if we are going to make ourselves better,” he says.  Perhaps, it’s high time we began to feel “badly” about the current education scenario in the country.  The rising crimes among youngsters is a good enough warning.   If we still continue to think we are “growing or developing or evolving” toward a more humane society by mistaking pampering for affection, then the system will teach us some lessons in its own characteristic ways. 


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20 comments:

  1. This is high time that we should think about what we actually want from education..how we want our children to be 'educated' ....I agree with most of your points regarding eradication of punishment and using of gadgets...But I think apart from CCE ( which is at this moment popular only among schools affiliated with CBSE ) , the traditional 'exam' based system should also be encouraged...

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    1. The whole concept envisaged by the psychologists and educationists has been washed down the drain by the way it is put into practice in our country. If not CCE, it is done in some other name in different Boards - DPEP, for example, in the Kerala Board. They make a mockery of education!

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  2. True that. It wasn't wrong to promote CCE but the evaluation must be strict even with this. No matter whatever be the mode of evaluation and education, it must be ensured the real goal of education it achieved.

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    1. When we are dealing with children some sternness and even severity is required. Children don't understand nor can they manage excess of freedom which the present system of education is offering them.

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  3. I agree most of the education that we get from school/ college these days is farce. Usually after a professional education we expect to be able to be proficient in the job sector. But we usually have zero practical experience and the thousand theories that we had memorized becomes useless :(

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    1. This is another aspect, you're speaking of Preethi, but a valid one too.

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  4. It is how our system has been and it has only worsened with parents allowing kids to carry gadgets and generally evoke a sense of they can get anything they want... as far as CCE goes, the system lacks the ability to grant training to teachers, teachers are not motivated enough and the list goes on ending it up into a viscous circle.. in addition children today have a much lower EQ making the situation even more worse. Questions are many, answers very few.

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    1. Yes, Seeta, it's a rather complex situation; I've analysed it from selected perspectives which I thought were important.

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  5. "Life inevitably seeks the paths of least resistance. The teacher becomes a kind of clown in the circus trying to maintain a sane balance between stunt and buffoonery." Nothing can explain better my state of mind regarding Our Education system. No to punishment is passe` now (from 5-6 years) govt. had passed the 1.) 'No Fail Policy'' that is the teacher can NOT FAIL any child irrespective of his performance!
    2.) If an illetrate child seeks new admission and is for ex.10 years of age , then he will be given admission according to his age and the teacher had to work on him to bring him to the equal level of his fellow classmates !! So, the magician teacher will make him learn A,B,C,D to LCM and trigonometry within 8-9 months and by the final exams he OUGHT to pass the exams OR you can't fail him.SEE. And not to discuss the teaching already enrolled students are receiving ... Trash.
    Self introspection and setting of priorities perhaps can save us .

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    1. As a teacher I can understand your frustration and agony, Kokila. I too experience similar problems. We need systemic changes. Accountability cannot be teacher's sole responsibility; the students, parents, policy makers and the govt too, all should be accountable.

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  6. Strongly disagree.. neither generous marking nor gadgets in school is an issue actually... I think eradication of punishment is "THE" best step that we have taken.. creativity has nothing do with marking or punishment has everything to do with "enablers" (like gadgets). The issue is the way we see all these things... About a month back one of my colleague was called by his son's school teacher for an absurd frivolous reason like "he is generally untidy"... That's funny. Well! coming back to my view, i believe school is a playground where only minimum of minimum regulation should be practiced... let them do whatever they want to do... they will become far better youngsters.

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    1. You needn't worry at all, Sachin. Because the kind of school you want for children is already there, thanks to the prevailing system. :)

      Just an anecdote to convey what I'm trying to convey: An English teacher wished to teach some manners to one of her students. She told him how to ask permission politely instead of being as rude as he usually was. The boy said, "Hold on, ma'am; I'm just coming from the loo."

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    2. :) ... loved your anecdote...

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  7. The Harsh Reality of today's education. I remember once My Father asked "don't you use pen and copies for study, I see you with your Laptop every time?" Shamelessly I answered "No Papa now laptop has everything, books, copies and days are gone of writing and now typing is most preferred".

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    1. There's a lot of difference between you and the school students, Ranesh. First of all, you are in college and mature enough to make your decisions. School students are not mature. There may be exceptions - I remember you were a mature student with clear goals and objectives when you were in school. Tell me, how many of your companions possessed that maturity?

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  8. Agree with you completely. As a teacher, I can share my experience and frustration. These days, no one is interested in teaching, rather interested in cheating. With the deteriorating condition of our family values and teaching methodologies, I always fear that future of our children will be very tough.

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    1. Teaching won't be a profession by choice any more.

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  9. Replies
    1. Glad to see you here after a pretty long while, Pankti. I must confess I missed you.

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  10. Hi, Tomichan Matheikal
    That's very informative post which is very helpful for me
    Keep Sharing post on Education :)
    Thanks
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    ReplyDelete

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