Wednesday, May 27, 2009

99% Success is a Failure Grade

Or so, it was said of surgery and military. Very soon it'll be true of education too!!!

Just today I was seeing a news piece - 90% in CBSE is considered average!!! When I cleared CBSE X (2002), 90% was considered very good. This time, students of my alma mater, 15 students got >90% (out of 30 odd students). Goes to show that to match the standards of state boards, CBSE standards have fell!!!

So what students now have is less syllabus but they still don't learn or understand anything. Its just become easier for them to cram up - there's less syllabus. Basics, well the "Question Banks" are the basic. I know of students who hadn't even read the prescribed Text-books but managed 95%. Few years back the government proclaimed that the text-books would include more basic stuff (when the actual motive was undoing what the previous government had changed in the text-books). The argument that going back to basic in education will help falls flat in an atmosphere where understanding matters far less than the score achieved (which btw, doesn't require understanding because of the question banks and the "sample papers" released by the board). Did the easing of syllabus lead to the child being more active in other fields? NO. Did it aid anyone? NO.

CBSE started off with a good initiative of declaring the grade and not rank. I feel that should be extended to doing away with scores at all. When 90% = 95% (I really feel it is), the kid will probably try to understand more because he anyways can't get better than an A+. If not that, at least he'll spend his time not cramming up question banks but for some other interest or hobby.

High time students, parents and the boards realised that the grades and marks are all but one and must I say, unimportant part of the education the child receives. More important is what he learnt from it. Anyone can identify pictures of different strokes in swimming and score a cent percent but when at sea, the only stroke that'll work is what can make you survive till help is at hand.


prashantsinister said...

well spun and rather noble thoughts.
I beieve that in this case, students will study least to guarantee an A+ ( i.e. instead of aiming for 95% they will now aim for just 90% ), which in anycase wont solve the problem.
I feel, giving them security of grades wont solve the problem. Their mentors should consciously try to ingrain in them that more important than grades is the concepts and understanding and love for the subject of ones interest.
regurgitating on paper in a set way, after rote learning is just one subclass of huge class of Presentation (which has its own importance) ... but this mode should not eclipse other modes of presentation.
Presentation and application of the knowledge earned is important.

MMM said...

Now that the student is aiming for 90% what does he do in the time that he doesn't study? Perhaps involve in something that he likes -
Sitting idle under a tree aint bad at all - perhaps an apple may fall onto his head.

"Their mentors should consciously try to ingrain in them"

Again on principle of incentives - what do their mentors gain? Don't they gain if their ward gets the highest? Parents of the toppers are honoured at annual day functions. Schools are known to reward the best-performing...

Till the percentage system remains, the best performance will be defined by the score in the boards and not the number of awards won at the local science fair or the number of medals won at the local sports meet.

sayan said...

I wish this was the policy at Microsoft! The world would have never seen anything beyond Windows 1.1 in that case :P

sayan said...

On a more serious note, the solution to the problem is in the hands of the universities. Look at what happens after your 12th board exam. Some universities admit students on the basis of your entrance exam only and some others admit only on the basis of board score. Universities should instead look at the overall profile of the student including but not limited to:-

1) Entrance score
2) Board score (12th)
3) Board score (10th)
4) Academic performance from 6-12
5) Involvement in extra curricular activities like drama, quiz, debate in inter/intra school fests.
6) Active involvement in social service.

Conditions 4, 5 and 6 should be waived only for the underprivileged who attended smaller schools.

MMM said...

the differential treat will fail simply because of problems in definition. i studied in a very small school in a remote village in one of the most backward districts of north karnataka. But guess u knw the facilities I had...