Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Comments on the Indian education system.

This post is from our newest guest blogger, Rizwan. He will be posting regularly on Saturdays from now on... Enjoy!

I’ve become disillusioned with the manner in which classes are conducted here in India. Granted, I’ve never sat in on an engineering or computer science class at an Indian college or university, but it's safe to say that an instructor here at the company is a product of his/her intellectual and academic atmosphere.

My mates and I are sitting in class and an instructor is teaching us on subject ABC. Behind the instructor is a projected PowerPoint slide with 5 or 6 bullet-pointed sentences. Across the top of the slide is a big question: "Why ABC?" And each sentence on the slide is one facet to answering this question. Clearly then, the answers to the question are right there in front of us.

The instructor asks, "So why ABC?"

And then waits.

And waits some more.

He wants an answer!

Sir, I want to say. The answers are right there. We can see them.

But I remain silent.

The instructor continues waiting. No one answers - it seems an exercise in futility, as we would simply be reading the answers off the slide.

Enduring silence.

Finally the instructor speaks. Turning around to glance at the slide, he simply ticks off the answers on the slide, which were there in front of us the entire time.

The ludicrous and gratuitous simplicity of the situation begs the question: why does the instructor ask us such simple questions with very obvious answers? If he is testing our ability to think critically, then there is no need to do so with the answers right there in front of us.

This is the way in which classes are taught everyday at my company. And again, while I haven't been to an Indian university, the instructors at the front of the class and my Indian counterparts all around me - indeed, all of us - are products of their academic and intellectual environments. Therefore I feel it's safe to assume that this is how classes are taught at Indian universities as well. If you ask simple questions that require no thought or foresight at all to answer, then you are robbing your students of two things:
  1. The spirit of inquiry and the thirst for knowledge, which have guided and advanced our species over the past 3000 years, and

  2. The ability to think critically, which as a software engineer working for a global IT services company is crucial to say the least.
The other concern I have with instructors here is their lack of focus on the entire class. We’re sitting in a classroom that has 4 rows of tables and chairs, split down the middle of the room to create a sort of aisle from the front of the room to the back. It just so happens that whenever real, substantial questions are asked, answers tend to come from my side of the classroom. I’ve been watching my instructors and they all exhibit the same behavioral patterns. This one in particular, standing in front of us right now, is looking almost exclusively at my half the classroom, thereby effectively ignoring 50% of his listening constituency. Moreover, he directs all of his questions and remarks to those who have already answered one of his previous questions and/or those who make sustained direct eye contact with him lasting more than 5 seconds.

Sir, I want to say. You need to focus on the rest of your audience too. They’re just as important. Pay them some attention as well - it will enrich their learning experience.

When it comes to Indian methods of teaching, the word ineffective automatically comes to mind, but it doesn't do justice to the system. It barely scratches the surface.


Hmm. That's a little better.

Not conducive to the pursuit of knowledge.

I like that one best.


Orion said...

Interesting. How exposed to India's educational system are these instructors? Is it possible that they have been detached long enough that this could be a somewhat isolated phenomenon? I would be very interested to actually go to an Indian college/university and see what there is to be seen, especially in the engineering schools. It would be cool to have some first hand experience to compare to how it gets played up in American media.

Kalpesh said...

We need students who can be assests to the nation after they complete the education. For this the basics and fundamantals should be strong. recently read an article that helps students master the science and maths subjects though online assessmant tests.