Sunday, January 20, 2008

State of education in India - Part 2

Apart from access to education, what worries me about education in India is quality of Education. Though the perception about education in India is still very good, I suspect that after a decade or two, the perception may not survive. I hope it does not happen. Already in my generation itself, the number of people who actually wish to think is too less and unfortunately that's what industry wants, especially the high recruitment software industry, whose still main business is to take boring, pathetic work that westerners don't want to to and ask our people to do that mindlessly without questioning whether what they do makes sense? or is it this stupid coding and documentation for 60-80 hours in a week is what they want to do?

Aah, as always I am digressing from the topic. So, what wrong? Why do I think quality of education is going down? Well, first, to have good quality education, there should be teachers to teach. Most times, teachers are there physically but shouldn't they be teaching? You tell me, that's why all kids go to tuitions. Let me ask back to you, do tuitions teach? All they do is to tell you how to get more marks in exams, which is actually what even schools do. Is getting marks education????

What lacks most in today's education scenario is ability to think. How many schools encourage thinking? Almost none.... Student has to write answers as told by teachers or else... The common method is to know what possible questions will come in exams and rattofy them, who the hell needs to understand? The goal is to get marks in the exam and not learn? That's what parent want to. I know it is difficult to blame them because in the stupid system we have made in our country, entry depends on stupid marks. But how much really success in life depends on marks you get in all the exams? very weak relation, if there is any at all. Just look around, are all the successful people are the academic achievers?
The real problem is the way education goes because of the marks system. Mugging has becomes the most essential skill in today's education system. Find out all the questions that can come in the exams, write the answers and mug them. Of course, even that is not so much work, there are all kinds of guides and everything that do for students. Where the hell is thinking? Where is learning? Do we want to see our future where people can't think and have to depend on some specialist for every damn little thing? Already, we are not too far from that, and do these specialists really help, they do not understand how their problems in their field relate to problems in other's fields, and therefore they screw up, they literally play with our lives, not juts healthwise, but psychologically, spiritually, and all the other ways one can think of.

aah... I digressed again. Coming back, what is our education systems in India summarized into: non-committed teachers, sometimes nonexistent teachers, filled with techniques to get marks without learning, discouragement of thinking (thinking and understanding is not just about asking questions, This is the biggest myth existent in today's world, asking questions is just one means). The other big problem our education system creates is that of listening, yes listening. How many of us are good listeners? How many of us can listen somebody with all biases kept aside and understand? Because, the emphasis is shifted from sitting in classroom to listen to teacher to exercise and mug the answers the children never really become good listeners. Whether you believe it not, it is one of the most essential skills in life.

The next stage is that of higher education. Indians are among the most successful in the world when it comes to higher education, and people like Jawaharlal Nehru created string emphasis on higher education by encouraging building systems like IIT. Ironically, despite all this the amount of research output that comes out from Indian Education System is pathetic. Why do all bright Indian kids have to go outside India to do great research. Yes, infrastructure and industry environment has been problem, but that's not all. Let's start from IITs and IIMs which are like pinnacle of our higher education system. If you go to any IIT, first thing you will notice is that except for one or two departements here and there, the main fcous is always on B.Tech. degress. There is one famous line in IITs 'B.Tech.s are products, M.Tech.s are by-products and Ph.D. are wastes'. Very very derogatory line not only for researchers but IITs themselves. Yes, that's the attitude in general you will observe. There is no bigger myth about IITs than that all B.Tech are the brilliant people while M.Tech.s and Ph.D.s are not. It is simply that B.Tech.s are the one who grabbed the opportunity first. I had been an M.Tech. student in IIT and average intelligence of them is no less that that of B.Tech. though it is most likely that top 5% B.Tech. students will be more intelligent than top 5% more intelligent than M.Tech. There lies root of another evil in our system but I will come back to it later. The point is about research and higher education. Some of the professors in IITs do wonderful research but very few students get opportunity to be part of that. Overall research almost feels like a totally separate dimension of IIT. No wonder there is so less research output from IITs. If you look universities all over the world, research is always driven by students, professors provide the trigger and background (and take the credit too) but it is always driven by students, their enthusiasm, their fresh perspectives, and their hardwork. I do not intend to belittle Professors, they also do tremendous hardwork, show enthusiasm, etc.. Professors are the enablers and the mentors. The point of I want to make is for high quality and high quantity research output it is essential to have student participation in it. I am not very familiar with IIMs but as much I have heard from my friends in IIMs, situation is not much different there.

One of the roots of evil in our education is the great belief that intelligence is everything. Let me tell you it is only one of the several things a successful person needs. Education is not about intelligence, education is about learning to live like a human, to instill values, to be able to differentiate between right and wrong, to understand ourselves, to understand nature. I know, all are only worries about development and progress, so on and so forth; but even there intelligence is only one of the several things. what about professionalism, what about discipline, what about attitude, what about perspective? In India, we have very bad habit of judging children and unfortunately also their future based on so called intelligence (which rough translated as ability to score in exams)? I ask you, what the heck is intelligence? Are we going to be a developed nation by having intelligent people who have no sense of how to use their intelligence or commitments or responsibilities or how to deal with people or morals or values or empathy towards fellow citizens? The answer is absolutely 'NO'.

I think this has already become too big and I am not writing it very well, so I will stop it here. Perhaps I will be able to better it in future.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How intelligent are our intellectuals

Did you ever notice that all the so called intelligent people around never try to understand anything, why is something the way it is? They always look things from angle and then criticize. Often the lens they use to evaluate are not the purpose at for which the thing has been made.
From last five years, I have been around some extremely intelligent people, including IIT professors, IIT students, very senior corporate people (corporate biggies are not necessarily known to be intelligent, but I had been working in R&D group where 80% people are extremely intelligent).
I think the worst of these kinds are the corporate managers, who just pick-up some latest technique from the theory/IT Package/methodology/management philosophy and try to implement without understanding what the heck it is meant for and when they fail they blame the technique/methodology/management philosophy. When I was doing my masters in Industrial Engineering and Management, I used to think why the hell all these very good techniques and methods in Industrial Engineering are known as management fads in corporates. But, when I joined a company (unfortunately I still work in that company :( ) within few months I realized why all these become management fads and failures. Because no managers basically tries to understand what exactly it is meant for, in what context it can be applied and in what context it cannot be.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Interesting?

Your Birthdate: April 11

Spiritual and thoughtful, you tend to take a step back from the world.
You're very sensitive to what's going on around you, yet you remain calm.
Although you are brilliant, it may take you a while to find your niche.
Your creativity is supreme, but it sometimes makes it hard for you to get things done.

Your strength: Your inner peace

Your weakness: You get stuck in the clouds

Your power color: Emerald

Your power symbol: Leaf

Your power month: November

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I wrote three weeks back about need for people to come together to teach needy children and within next few days I came to know about the trust 'Ananya', who is doing the exact same work, educating children who had been denied the right of being educated. What makes me really proud is one of my friends is working with the trust.
Here is little bit info about the trust

If you wish you can also support their cause.