Aug 12, 2009

Why not an education system like this ?



We all know that something is wrong with this education system, isn't it ? But we go on ..... Why ? We all know something is missing in our life and mostly not to be found in our chosen path . Why ? We were taught to draw fish-bone diagrams by the education system . Is the education system daring enough to allow us to draw a fish-bone diagram on the education system ? Why do we use convenient blindness to tackle these questions. These are subjective in nature ! - Cliche'd excuse. After all that is why these are called subjects, aren't they ?

"Education is what is left in the minds when what that has been learnt is forgotten ", said one of my most admired wise men. I believe in it. If this is education and if education is a process and if any process can be reviewed for its efficiency , what is the efficiency of the educating process . What measures do we use ? Exams test the learning. What tests the education.
Shall we say ,
education = retained learnings / total learnings
The education system believes in improving the denominator of this ratio , hoping that it increases the probability of retention (numerator). Thereby increasing the efficiency. But does it work that way ?

First things first . Is attendance and attentiveness the same ? If not , what is important for education ? The ideal argument is that both are important. But does an ideal engine exist ? Again the assumption is that a 90% attendance results in an increased chance of attentiveness just by giving you more chances to be attentive. One learns when he is attentive - some in class , some when listening to friends , some when poring over the books in solitude, some when sneaking a glimpse at the other person's answer sheet. I accept that attentiveness can not be measured for calculating CGPA. But can it be improved ?

Rational people respond to incentives. When the incentives of coming to a class are traditionally aligned to reach that 90% attendance mark first , what is the percentage of people who choose to 'pay' attention. Why not we re align the incentives ?
Let the attendance registers be kept aside for a week. Let the classes be scheduled as normally. Two rules - and these as the word rules mean are rules -
1. no one shall enter the class after five minutes of commencement and a person who enters during that five minute buffer loses his right to ask any question in the class.
2. If a class has 60 students on roll , the class shall provide seating arrangement for only 40. If the strength exceeds 40 , the 41st person and everyone from then on shall find their own seating resources - floor or literal laptops.

No one is obliged to attend the class for attendance. No one is obliged to attend the class to extract the pre-paid fees. The one who comes in comes in to learn and increase his denominator of education and thus the class shall have a bunch of people with a common denominator.
This system may fail badly. Not one person may turn up. But this system may succeed too . Some classes may have people scrambling for seats. Haven't we seen people fighting for a seat in an unreserved compartment in a train ? Reservation spoils the thrill and at times the purpose . A person may bunk classes for the first week . Negligence can be contagious. But so can be purpose . At some point, people may see the point. And like any plan designed as taught by the education system , why not this plan be tested for results in a pilot scale ? Which institution will take the challenge ?

During my engineering college days , I have felt at times that all it takes to compress the teachings of six months is two or three attentive days , scheduled at my own discretion and choosing my own teacher - may be myself or a friend or a friendly teacher ! If that is possible , why not compress the entire engineering course into eight weeks ? One semester per week .
Not exactly. After all every engineer-to-be is ready tp pay four years for the degree. Let us use the idle time efficiently. Have an exam after that first week . Name it the start-semester exam ! Do not set question papers. Give three hours and unlimited papers to each candidate and allow him to write what he knows . Ask him to prepare an index of answers in the first page. If the person can design questions for the answers , award more marks .
Then start the classes . Let us ue the idle time of five months and three weeks of the semester. Let classes be held as usual - with our attentiveness system and not attendance system - and end-semester exams be held with the traditional question papers and evaluation methods. Let the choice be greater . Let the student answer three out of seven or eight questions. Or if the choice is stringent, give him the book. And again , it shall be either the choice or the book and not both . RULE .
Implement weighted average of marks scored in start-sem and end-sem . My allotment of weights will be 0.6 for the start-sem and 0.4 for the end-sem.
The system may fail. No student may pass or no student may fail . Both are failures . The system may click . The start-sems can help the student decide what importance to be given to a concept and may help him in deciding to attend the classes. Why not try out in a pilot scale ? Which institution shall be willing ? At least to discuss.
We may argue that people may bunk classes thinking that they can learn from their stupidly sincere friend who will teach them on exam-eve. But how long ? There should at least be a few such friends. And the friends may not always be ready to be stupidly sincere. They may work a deal to share the stupidity . If that be, the purpose may be served. After all , people learn better when taught by learned peers and we need not search for evidences.
Will a person who comes out of such a system be employable or at the least educated ? Mass production may take some time to be achieved. But quality of production .......... Will not a person from this sytem be better equipped to tell you what a 'gene' is , than a biotech engineer raised by the old school. As with any other process , will not the efficiency increase as a result of the learning curve ?
When I was a child , I used to create a havoc when mother came to feed me. She chased me with the plate in hand , told me stories and showed me faces to make me eat. But I was adamant . Then one day , she left the plate in my eye-sight and proceeded to carry on with her usual chores. I expected her to beg to me to eat. I invited her to chase me. I cried to grab her attention. And then I took the plate myself and started to eat. Now , I eat with my hands , at my own will , three times a day !!!

7 comments:

jayanth said...

first of all this is every aspiring student's and educationist's views put in words. good job. BITS pilani has this system ( just an example that this system can work ) i ve heard abt people fighting for a seat by throwing notebooks through doors and formulating their own timetables for the year, the one's capable completing 2 semester's course work in one and doing a project in the remaining. forget feasibility. because this can be achieved only by an institution that is well established with a good reputation. though we consider education a society centric work, it is still a business and no one would wish their insti going out of profits.
Second thing we can only have a top down approach to this. cant be implemented in schools first and then in colleges. it has to start from a phd to a pg then to a ug. It is a far fetched task. you spoke about incentive driven education, probably this can happen if institutes are given incentives if this type of education system is followed.

mathi said...

true da ... i mailed this article to three of my lecturers here too. had an interesting chat with one of them. he says in IIM-K also there is no attendance system. but invariably it is greater than 95%. freedom comes with responsibility. I surely agree with the top-down approach. right after +2, when a student decides to make his own choice of study ,the responsibility to his education should be made HIS !!!! and remember the start-sem concept ? it was ours.... thanks to gct

a said...

GS!!! ne mba student dan. othukaren. but adikaga ipdia? whew!

but jokes apart, a piece to ponder. no doubt.

mathi said...

i m surprised ! everyone knows there is something wrong with the system. ALL OF US. Is education following the path of democracy ?

anirudh said...

yes i agree with you that responsibility comes with freedom. Even in our colllege (GCT), we students are provided with great freedom that cannot be enjoyed in any other colleges in and around cbe. We learn out of our own will. Our college still ranks 4th in tamil nadu inspite of the bad infrastructure, poor teaching and all other poor stuffs that you know. I would say that the freedom that we have in our college is the main force that drives our students to learn. I am damn sure that, if we have good lecturers, our college students will be next to none in any area.

mathi said...

Sure GCT taught many things including self learning and survival . The most valuable lessons of my life ..... It shows prominently once you come out of GCT

vignish said...

Hi goms i read it.
but still there is one big gap which education cannot solve.
everyone study mechanical engg, electrical engg etc etc but no one works in the exact domain what have studied for the 4 years.
every person getting into a work & none of them are not easily adaptable with in a week to any organization.

we have to make education further sub classified ex. Mechanical engineering many subjects fall under this degree
ex. heat & mass transfer, thermal engineering etc etc
we all study this day and nite mug up formulas even write clues in hand, back side of calculator ect to pass these subjects.
finally no one works in the domain what they have stuided.

from my point of view it looks like a knife which not ground sharp enough atleast to cut a piece of cloth.

many may say these r basics which u need to know, some also say there is specialistion in M.tech, but still can how many can answer that i am using 50% of my studies from college in my work?
ans is no one.....
12th standard, the best moments of life for every student at that age. difficult subject calculus .. how many use integration & differentiation in their daily life???

so education system after 12th grade must be further sub classified like BE Thermal Engineer,B TECH Fluid analyst, BE Tool & Die making Etc.

so specalisation in the intial level maks a persons thoughts clear.so no one goes to wrong job , job with education will be integrated...

but the outset is, we have to change the education system and my friend's proposal is really worth trying..

good goms xpecting more from u.
regards
vignesh

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