Monday, March 28, 2011

109. About a university

In Canberra, I am staying in the campus of the Australian National University which seems to have all the ingredients for good learning. The campus is very green, very spacious and partly surrounded by a beautiful lake. When I go for my morning walk, I see scores of young, happy students cycling past me. There are students from all around the world and they seem to be getting along very well. Last Saturday, there was a cultural function on the occasion of the Earth Day where students and teachers from diverse cultures sang, danced and dined together. There is no law and order problem in the university. One can move about without fear at any time of day or night. Eve-teasing is something unheard of. Different departments are located in houses which look like residential houses and this gives the university a distict character. What impressed me most was the comment from some of my acquaintances here that the University encourages critical and creative thinking. In our country, emphasis is on mugging and the calibre of a student is judged by how accurately and how much he can reproduce in the examinations. There is no emphasis on developing the independent mind of the student. Any critical and creative comment is promptly dismissed as incorrect- unworthy of any further scruity. It is high time we start putting premium on critical and creative thinking. Mugging must be discouraged. Then only, we will have people who could take right decisions. We must attract the best talent to our educational institutions and the performance of those in whose hands we put the future of our nation must be continuously and properly assessed. This is something too important to be ignored.


Bikram said...

you are right on what happenes in our country , Mugging and writing in exam and get distinction hardly we have practical sense of what we studied ..


R. Ramesh said...

hi boss thanks for staying connected though I was away for so long. I really appreciate it and feel happy to have such a good blog friend. Take care, keep smiling and best wishes always

How do we know said...

i agree with you that independent thought must be encouraged.. but i have good news for you.. the more our teachers force us to mug, the more we find ways to NOT mug, and to have independent thought..

As an aside, i have found that teachers in india really want students who WANT to learn. Who want to think. All my student life, i have NEVER mugged a SINGLE LINE. From class 3 (as far back as i can remember), i have always written in my own words. Only 2 teachers cut my grades because of that, and that was in MBA in IIM Calcutta(which is very sad).

At all other levels, and in every other class, the teachers respected my POV and also gave good grades. My teachers have always been very supportive(and i studied in multiple schools and cities).

In another example, in Class 11, we were asked to write an essay on the powers of the president of India . I wrote an opinion piece on how the president's powers do not exist in practice and the president is only a figure head. The teacher had asked for consitutional sections, facts and no opinion. Guess what happened? The essay was read out to the whole class as an example of "how answers should be written in Civics" and for years after i passed out, that essay was given to students as a model essay on civics. And it wasnt just the teachers - the Board gave me 95 marks out of 100 in a subject like Civics. Unheard of.

So the point i am trying to make is this - if the students are courteous, and present their views to discuss and not argue, if they first absorb and then opine, then maybe, they will not have such a difficult time. I think teachers in India have a much more difficult time than teachers anywhere else, and while the system may be flawed, the teachers, methinks, deserve a little attention..

Just my 2 penny that took up a lot of space.. sorry!