Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent grades

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by happy, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. happy

    happy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Our education system is such that boys and girls fail to answer even basic questions.

    A few years ago I was on the interview panel of a leading Indian University that had just launched an honours degree programme in Economics. We, me and another professor, were supposed to interview students who had just finished their 12th and evaluate their suitability for this prestigious programme. These were students from all across India; they had scored high percentage in the higher secondary exams and had cleared the university entrance exams with flying colours. So, one expected invigorating interview sessions with the them. We began by asking simple questions: What is the full form of GDP and what does it mean?

    Or what is inflation and what does five per cent growth in inflation mean? Most students were flummoxed by these simplest of queries, and we were perplexed because these youngsters averaged over 85 per cent in their class XII board exams. We discussed among ourselves and decided to lower the bar with such questions like what is the full form of RBI; what is the full form of SBI. But these too met with the same response – blank stares. Or, when the student was street smart then a furtive glance around the room, followed by a look up to the skies, a look down and the classic line “it is on the tip of my tongue, I will get it” … and then a few seconds later “can you give me a hint?”. And so it continued. Finally, we began asking questions that were, what we defined as, sitters: Who is the Finance Minister of India (in those days it was Pranab Mukherjee).

    And, we had a list of such questions that anyone should be able to crack. And then a candidate walked in with academic excellence of 90 per cent. He had been on the school hockey team, took part in extra-curricular activities, had great marks in the entrance test. We asked him: Who is the former Finance Minister of India who is also the current Prime Minister? He looked at us and said, “But that is not in my syllabus but I think it is a lady, her name begins with P”.

    The co-examiner and I looked at each other, neither of us could fathom who the candidate was speaking about. Our confusion must have been evident, because the candidate helpfully added “she usually has her head covered”. We looked at each other and ventured “you mean Pratibhatai Patil, the President?”. The candidate beamed and said “same difference”.

    This story may seem farfetched, but it is not. For the last decade I have been a visiting faculty for media-related subjects at the University of Mumbai. Some of the answers at the university level seem as if they are from the film Munnabhai. ‘Sonia Gandhi is the daughter of Indira Gandhi and grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi’, is a routine answer. Another standard response is that Hindi is the mother tongue of all Hindus, all other religions speak other languages. Or, another favourite ‘educated people read English news, illiterate people read regional newspapers’ an answer that never fails to get examiners to burst into peals of laughter while marking the answer papers. I have heard professors who correct answer papers for other subjects complain about such ‘innovative’ answers. Sometimes, when the answer is not unique, but written by a series of students, we fear that this was what they had been taught.

    There is a problem with education in India. Our graduates know very little. And whatever little they know is usually wrong. Talk to any recruiter and you will hear horror stories of how difficult it is to find entry-level candidates who can walk and talk at the same time. And, if you think that this is just a problem facing the Humanities, it is worse in Engineering. Many private engineering colleges have an unwritten rule instructing teachers that they cannot fail students for lack of knowledge. In fact, given that employers only choose to even interview students who have scored a first class, the mandate in many of these colleges is to ensure that maximum number of students score a first class.

    As a result many IT companies that recruit from these institutes end up having to make students take exams that clarify the basics and then spend a considerable amount of time and energy training these ‘first class graduates’ so that they are able to perform the most mundane of activities. The scenario is not very different in Management programmes either. And, now with professional courses coming into the picture, the scenario has become even more muddied.

    There are courses that sound great, even from an employer’s perspective, but there are very few teachers who can be pressed into service. For example, a BSc in Biochemistry cannot really be taught by Biology and Chemistry professors but that’s what is happening now. It needs to be taught by specialists.

    In many of these cases, students are the first generation in their families seeking higher education. And, they have dreams of a bright future. Their parent mortgage land and homes to ensure their children have the advantage of a good education. And, the system provides them with a degree that, more often than not, is not worth the paper it is printed on.

    As Einstein once said: “The only thing interfering with my learning is my education.” And this has come to pass in India. What we need is a relook at the system of higher education. There are professions that need skills and not degrees. And these skills need to be constantly updated. Academia is also required, but its application is different it is meant to be a quest for knowledge. In conflating the two what India has is the worst of all possible worlds lack of excellence in academia and lack of skills and employability in candidates. The solution, possibly, is to look at these as separate entities and aim for excellence in both.

    The author is head, digital content, Zee Media Group.

    Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent grades - Analysis - DNA
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    we see this happening all the time!
     
  4. Free Karma

    Free Karma Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    Yeah this is very true,think most people know this, especially true for students coming from the state board (atleast here).

    You know there is something wrong, when students coming out a math exam complain about "The numbers were changed, not the same as the text book!!!" (the government regretted the decision and went back to the older system the next year lol)

    This mug up system needs to go...creating engineering graduates with 90% but cant solve basic logic and math problems, and have no language or social skills is not good at all.
     
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  5. happy

    happy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    Yeah. This is the result of byhearting without knowing even the meaning.

    Also, I was shocked to see a youtube video of a primary school teacher.

     
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  6. drkrn

    drkrn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    one day i asked two 6th standard kid how many paise for one rupee,
    one said it it 60 another said its 50 and started quarrelling with each other over it.

    their mother besides stood with her head down in shame.

    both kids are studying in a state wide famous school bashyam. their father is an auto driver.they pay no less than 20 k as tuition fees for education but at last the students become duds.
     
  7. drkrn

    drkrn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    this is in bihar.they all got their jobs by bribing higher officials.this is old.

    even this cameo out because of nitish kumar.or else it is like evry other scam
     
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  8. happy

    happy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    The point is not whether this is old or new, I just showed one reason why our education system has become hopeless because of such kind of teachers. And by employing these duds, our politicians are directly responsible.

    In the near future we risk being sidelined in everything because of lack of intellect.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
  9. Ajatashatru Bharati

    Ajatashatru Bharati Regular Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    Some of my friends who got selected in IITs would learn formulae by solving tens of hundreds of problems related to those formulae but they did not know anything about the practical application or the origin of the formulae. They did not know the statements of most of the theorems and the meanings of the basic terms used in the formulae but would easily write the mathematical expression of any of them. They just memorized the terms so that they know where in the formulae they have to put the values given in the question.
     
  10. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    Well, what do ya know?

    Finally a report on something thats basically known to everyone save the people who need to know.

    We value rote learning over understanding. We value application of formula over the concept behind the formula, we value 10 pointers over the innovator.
    And then people wonder why in a nation of 1.2 billion people, we cant find the next Nobel Prize winner for science.

    Here, the percentage in school level and then the Pointer in College level is the only mark of excellence, the only way for a student to show his worth.

    Hell, if metric was the parameter to judge someone for life, I'd be in some mall working as a floor cleaner or something......

    Thank heavens I actually got into some place safe after entrance examinations
     
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  11. dhananjay1

    dhananjay1 Regular Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    It's funny how if one asks Indian about education they would all agree that it is necessary, but would be totally confused if asked what exactly is 'education'.
     
  12. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    I would have scored more in my exams if the teacher read every word and the reasoning given for the answer, but copy/paste answers are preferred and i was never any good at memorizing whole answers because of which people who understood less than me scored higher.
     
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  13. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    Education is when you can think independently and logically even after you have forgotten everything you leanred in school

    :troll:
     
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  14. happy

    happy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    Add with a working solution
     
  15. gokussj9

    gokussj9 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    And the sad part is that this rote learning system has been embedded so much in the conscious of us Injuns that even when we go for an education abroad, we are still looking to somehow get a 4.0 :pound:
     
  16. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Re: Students show shocking ignorance in spite of getting excellent gra

    "To study without thinking is useless. To think without studying is dangerous."

    -- Confucius
     
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