“10 std exams to go.” this is what glared at me when I picked up the The times of India newspaper a few days back. The caption was beyond my comprehension, was this even debatable!? Hadn’t generations accepted the examination as the conclusive factor to one’s basic education? OR I was wrong, this is modernization of the Indian education methodology, now it started sinking in, it has been abolished then and there are fair chances of it being done now. Yes, the precedence was set with 7th std state board exams being exterminated, them thwarting the spirit of rank system by tagging it unhealthy competition. Now the noose around 10th std board exams.
The rational being the increasing number of suicides .but trauma lies in the weightage allocated to the consequence of the exams, not the exams itself. This has been a burning issue since quite a number of years. Our previous generation – maybe our parents’ one had only one avenue and maxim – the much allured government job, the only determinant was luck largely and not merely exams. Our generation – I mean people born in the late 70s or early80s like myself grew up with fancy words like “globalization”, “Hi- tech city”, “IT- city “so on and hence forth many amendments were brought in the educational stream in the name of modernization. A student who previously had to ‘memorize’ and ‘apply’ (it is a paradox – I know) around 20 – 30 axioms and theorems in math, had lesser burden in my generation, with only a handful to study. I would like to quote an example of the changing education pedagogy (courtesy randomspeak.blog)
50 years of math (in USA)
- Teaching math in 1950s.
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100; his cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
- Teaching Math in 1960s.
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price or $80. What is the profit?
- Teaching Math in 1970s.
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production $80 .Did he make a profit?
- Teaching Math in 1980s.
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20.your assignment – underline the number 20.
- Teaching Math in 1990s.
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest, because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question. How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers and if you feel like crying, it is OK).
No doubt the syllabus changed and the level deteriorated drastically (put in a senior’s point of view) Maybe rocket science was altered to everyday science. However, it didn’t ease anything, students continued to fail, then it was accepted to be a failure and finally it is a fashion statement now termed “flunk”. Now again it is a fetish only among the elite. , The predicament of our generation was that – though the syllabus was not cumbersome, there was only one-way to ‘globalisation’through ‘computerization’ of humans (hope you got the pun) here began the plight of plenty.
The world was closely knit by the web of computerization but the determinant was the 10th, 2nd PU , the CET, REC, IITJEE etc exams in a row that students had to not only endure, but pass, and then not only pass but with flying colours (which these colours were , the marks would decide)the colours would get them entry to this “global village” and finally the rest of his life would be rolling in riches, undoubtedly they had their own demons to fight, but the demons themselves were termed very eccentrically as ‘projects’, ‘deadlines’ , ‘intellectual’ , the people who were denied entry to this world became theETs, who were not included in the MNC talks , nor were able to afford frequent foreign trips, worst so, not being able to acquire the NRI brand.
This trend thrived(ing) for 25years or more to come. So it became a predilection for parents to produce entities of “globalized glory” not ETs .the brand factories were the exams. These branded students as ‘hi – tech‘or ‘others’. The paranoia of being branded ‘others’ is what makes one suicidal. If other vistas were unwrapped and if latent talents were to be made potent (not the other way round) then the crisis of suicides would be overcome.
Now again this tendency is more typical to India than many other developed countries, wherein, menial labours like carpentry (here) are not labours but essential knowledge and also a promising occupation, this is just one example.
In our country the ‘others’ are pursued only as hobbies it is quickly throttled if a middle- class converts his hobby to fantasy , it is not the parents’ fault as the ‘hobbies’ have no luring future, it only cries ‘doom’ as there are simply very few opportunities to pursue your dream and make a living of it?! So coming to exams, they are not the antagonists the problem lies elsewhere .if students are not branded, if a surreal situation right now, could make a head start towards reality, then the solution can be found.
Students should be assessed, but only as an assessment of their positives and pursue them. Market must be created for other talents too, as India consists of mainly the middle class; it is not fashionable for them to “flunk” as not all of them have “papa’s business” to follow.
Just as a concluding statement I will re – state that exam is not the problem, but the results are! Even if the majority considers this a problem then the solution has to be found. The solution does not lie in abolishing the problem itself, if this were to be done then in the near future an entire generation of zombies will prevail, with lack of motivation and action without thought, assessment of basics are essential , otherwise in future one of the largest democratic republic will turn out become the “largest banana republic.”