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 !!!