Weekly Digest #68
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In this digest-
1. Fixing the Indian education system
2. (Guest Article) Time for An Overhaul of the Education System In India- A Student's Voice
3. Happiness Quotient from around the world
4. Did you Know?
5. Entertainment Quotient
The Problem with the Indian education system: through the lens of a student
By: Abhimanyu and Agastya Rao
India’s biggest set of examinations (10th Grade) has just come to a close and we also sat for these examinations. Through this experience we noticed a few key problems in the Indian education system and one comprehension passage in an examination paper that caused an uproar in the entire country. Here’s our take on how India can and has to fix the current education system.
1. Lack of application of thought (for decisions and examination papers)
Another thing we noticed was a GLARING issue - the lack of application of thought that goes into the decisions made by CBSE. This ranges from general decisions they make about the format of exams (as explained above) and specific concerns with the question papers for the exams.
While it seems to us that many of these issues could have been cleared through just another round of corrections /proofreading.
While most of the errors in this year's set of Term 1 Board Examination papers were printing errors or problems with the options, there was one clear issue with the paper that really shocked us and thousands of students attempting the English paper for the Term 1 Board Exams.
THE GLARING ISSUE-
10th Grade CBSE English Board Examination Paper (Set- JSK1)
We got a different question paper set for the English Board exam, but when we saw this shocking question paper set and showed it to some of our other friends, we were all shocked.
The first question of the comprehension passage in SET 1 for the English board examination for 10th grade was completely misogynistic and talked a whole load of well… rubbish.
The passage spoke about the husband being the master of the house and the wife being a subordinate. The passage then went on to say that the cause of indiscipline in children nowadays is because wives don’t obey/follow their husbands anymore.
first question would straightaway be why they chose this passage in the first place and which ancient bunker did they unearth this from? These age old orthodox and misogynistic views should not have any place in our world in these times. Children who are reading this can get influenced by this, and these values are not the ones the future of this nation needs.
Frankly, the existence of any “values” in that passage itself is questionable. While it may be argued that students should be exposed to all kinds of writings, surely there could have been better examples to present to them.
What was even more shocking was one of the questions that followed this passage. The question sought an answer to the intention of the writer of the passage. There were multiple answer options for this question (one of which was that the author was a “male chauvinist pig”), but as per the CBSE answer key, the correct answer was that the author was speaking in jest.
Therefore, the passage, read in conjunction with this question, sends out a signal that it is perfectly acceptable for such writing to be shared. That women must be subservient to men, and that misogyny is the path to follow.
CBSE did come out with a statement after an immense uproar was caused as hundreds of students, teachers and other citizens took to social media to protest against these misogynistic and shameful comprehension passages.
In short, all CBSE had to do was not put a passage that very clearly promoted a misogynistic ideology. Seriously, all they had to do was pick a different passage- it's not like there is a dearth of comprehension passages on this planet- is there, CBSE?
We asked a few students who also sat for the 10th Grade board examinations this month for their opinion both on the exams and the Indian Education System as a whole. Here’s what they thought-
-Uday, a student of 10th Grade brought forward an interesting point- he is of the view that,
"In this day and age, everything is based on a student’s examination marks- from college admissions, placements to jobs, and at the age of 14-15, students are too young to face the kind of pressure where one’s entire future depends on an examination".
- A student of 10th Grade (the source requested not to be named) (With reference to the Term 1 MCQ subjective examinations) said-
“Some of the questions in the papers were inference based, and there couldn't be only one answer to them. So it was difficult to try and get into the mindset of the person who made the paper, especially when the options were very close.”
What the students said is true, when it comes to MCQs, the answer will always depend on the thought process of the person making the question paper- which differs from person to person.
The point brought up by Uday is another example of the pressure that we students go through and the flawed system that currently exists, where the primary determinant of one’s future is securing excellent marks in the Board examinations. This has to change. A person’s success or talents cannot be judged solely on the basis of a percentage on a sheet of paper.
CBSE and other colleges that mainly admit people based upon their Board examinations need to understand that not every student is academically inclined, and many have various other talents.
Let's face it, students in high school are already under extreme pressure, juggling both extra curricular and curricular activities. You need time for sports and exercise in order to stay fit, you need time for studying, which, thanks to the already broken system that relies on memorisation (see below) more than understanding, is an exceptionally time consuming task.
In a regular, ideal education system, the student’s understanding is assessed by asking concept related questions, asking them to write for or against something, or anything where you need to think and apply your mind. In the country we live in, a majority of the questions need you to have memorised the textbook.
Whether or not you made an effort to understand, whether or not you worked hard the whole year. It is a system where people who don’t make an effort can succeed, but hard workers can fail.
Due to this, people have to spend hours ensuring they know the most useless of details to get a respectable score. What actually should happen is that they succeed based on how well they know the concept, how much they understand it, and how they can apply that concept and correlate it with real life problems, debates, or a plethora of other methods!
Surveys conducted have shown that the number of International Board schools in India is 10 times what it was 10 years ago. Why is that? Well, simply because people have started to realise that their teaching methodology is more aligned with real learning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s rigorous for sure! However, it is the kind of rigour where you think and learn, not memorise!
3. Rote learning- This has got to be the single most important factor that has to change in the Indian Education system.
What is rote learning?
-Rote learning means memorising a certain portion of a textbook or concept without understanding it.
Why is rote learning bad?
For example, you memorise a list of points written in your textbook for a Social Studies exam. You don’t understand anything but you remember the answers to the most commonly asked questions and points. Then, you score 100% on your exam. While that’s all well and good, take a moment to reflect on how much you actually learned.
Did you even understand the topic or did you just memorise the answer? So essentially, you aren’t learning anything at all. This in turn also blocks and prevents creativity and creative answers because you can only think of one way to answer a question.
4. Fixing the examination format
As I had written before, this year, the CBSE split the exams into two sets- an Objective question set in December, with multiple choice questions, and a Subjective question set that’s probably in April (Unconfirmed date).
The Subjective set is the regular questions that CBSE usually gives, but the objective set is a completely new format. The positive outcome of this is that the CBSE has tried to make a new format for the papers that makes you think. However, the problem with these papers is that even with the MCQ format, the questions are ambiguous, making it hard to figure out which option is actually correct, as it all depends on the thought process of the person who drafted the question.
The plain truth is that the thought process of a person can always vary, and even if the method they used to solve the question or the logic they used to solve the question had been correct; if it doesn’t match the answer key it won’t be counted as correct.
We hope that the uproar that has been caused by the countless errors, answer key errors and various flaws brought to light in these recent board examinations will be heard and taken into consideration by the CBSE to change an old and flawed system of education and examination papers. The system needs to change and it needs to change now. For this we remain ever positive!
Afterall, ‘there is no time like the present’ (To fix the broken education system)
To sum up, here are some basic demands from students:
We are more than the marks we score in a generalised examination. We are multidimensional and deserve to study in a learning universe that recognises an approach that is not a “one size, fits all” approach. We deserve to learn in accordance with changing times. We deserve to learn life skills and not be confined to learning from books. We deserve to be free of rote learning. We deserve examinations that are not plagued by errors. We deserve to learn in the truest sense of the word.
Time for An Overhaul of the Education System In India- A Student's Voice
By: Rohan Jagadeesan, 15, a student of Grade X
In India, academics is very nearly a religion unto itself, with children across the nation obsessing over their textbooks and notes as they work towards a goal that will determine much of their future. However, the system to which they dedicate so much of their time is incredibly flawed.
There are a multitude of problems with CBSE. It is famous for promoting rote learning, placing more importance on regurgitating passages from the textbook than on a conceptual understanding of subjects. Mathematics is more about one’s calculation ability than it is about application of concepts, making it mostly pointless in a world where most people have calculators in their pockets all the time.
The history taught by CBSE is mostly confined to India until class 10, with the only world history learnt being a brief glimpse of events occurring in select parts of Asia and Europe over the last 300 years. And though the English taught by CBSE has been considered substandard for a while now, it has gained new notoriety with the controversy over the misogynistic reading comprehension that many children were given in the most recent CBSE board exam.
Besides the way rote learning is rewarded, there is also immense pressure on students; many colleges have a 100% mark cutoff, and immense numbers of students even commit suicide if they fail to meet the expectations of their peers, family, or themselves (around 14,825 students committed suicide in 2020 alone, according to the national crime records bureau).
These high cutoffs are related to rote learning; as the textbooks are not updated very often and nearly identical questions come every year’s board exam the amount of marks a student is expected to score slowly increases over time, creating an illusion of improvement in the education system, when in fact there is none.
In with the new – but is new always better?
Now I will move on to the new question paper formats that CBSE has tried out. The MCQ papers were widely praised as a departure from the board’s typical style of learning, as questions required more application and less rote learning. After all, an examination should be testing the understanding of concepts, not a student’s memory. However, many students found that the MCQs were often subjective in nature (especially in subjects like English), making them difficult to answer.
The main point of a multiple-choice type question is that it is objective; when the questions given are subjective instead then students cannot answer what they feel is right, and instead they are forced to try and answer the question from someone else’s point of view (‘someone else’ being the examiner in this case). This is a perfect example of “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
Time for a change
The examples I shared are just the tip of the iceberg of the problems with our education system. Neither am I alone in having these views, nor is this the first time that demands for a systemic change have been raised. It is high time we start prioritizing education in the manner that it deserves.
The curriculum must be updated keeping in mind the changing world that we students are a part of. This calls for a complete overhaul of the education system, and not stopgap and knee jerk reactions that end up causing confusion for students.
By: Mihir Rao
1 . Tropical forests are more resilient than you think. Through a process called ‘secondary succession’, old flora and fauna from the forest can help it grow back. If the forest is left untouched for 20 years, it has the potential to fully grow back, which is extremely fast. This is great, because along with us humans taking initiative to save our environment by planting trees, it seems as if nature is helping us too.
2 . A Chick-Fil-A store owner wanted to show her appreciation for her employees, and created a holiday drawing to do just that. The drawing had many valuable items, such as rent payments for a month, a week’s paid salary, and even a car! Due to morale taking a hit, the owner saved money every month and created this drawing to show her gratitude for her employees.
3 . Every time customer Ebony Johnson went to a drive-thru Dunkin Donuts, she chatted with Suzanne Burke, and the two became good friends over a period of time. However, when she found out that Suzanne had been evicted from her house and wasn’t doing so well, she took matters into her own hands and surprised Suzanne with a new home for her and her kids. Reading about such acts of kindness fills our hearts with joy and hope.
4 . Using a new kind of technology, a Swiss company reduced the radioactivity of the air and the soil in a certain part of the Chernobyl area. After testing conducted by Ukrainian scientists, the radioactive pollution in the soil has decreased by 47%, and the air by 37%! These are incredible results, knowing that sustainable processes were used to achieve this.
By: Abhimanyu Rao
1. Lasers are a staple in every Sci-Fi story you would ever have read. You know the best part about them? Unlike lightsabers, flying armours, and hyperdrives, they actually exist right now! Even better? NASA is using them to make communication with astronauts faster than ever before. Instead of the radio waves that are currently used to communicate, using lasers is a faster and much more efficient method that will really help space missions become more and more adventurous!
2. The world’s largest flying reptile is a Pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus. It could jump 8 feet into the sky, and only then would it begin flapping its massive wings! What’s interesting about it? Well, its bones are extremely breakable, and excavating them therefore becomes a real task, because the bones will snap if you use too much pressure. This is very similar to the flying birds of today, who also have hollow, breakable bones.
3. NASA has just launched a new space observatory, called the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, which will solve the mysteries we have never been able to solve before, and answer questions about the Supermassive Black Hole at the center of our galaxy, including why that black hole spins. This will help us understand our universe that much more, and learn more about our origins!
4. ALIENS! ALIENS!! ALIENS!!! Yutu-2, the Chinese moon rover saw a mysterious cube on the moon that looks a bit like a house! Imagine if we end up making contact with aliens by the end of the year. That will change our trajectory forever, and also, it might be a mutually beneficial arrangement! If we get technological help from them, and we help them in other ways, we could possibly reach zero emissions by 2025!!! I know that this is all a very optimistic and idealistic view, but anything is possible!
Entertainment quotient for the week:
-I’ll be home for Christmas
-Welcome To Earth (With Will Smith)
Visit these pages to see some of our other endeavours!
Visit A Dogs Daily Antics to laugh your heart out with crazy captioned dog photos!
Visit The Chinappa Channel to see some quirky but nice videos that will make you roll with laughter
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