100% cut-off is just absurd
This is one of those occasional rant posts that I write. If you do not want to know my opinion on stuff, please stop reading here.
I just read in the headlines of the Times of India that, with the “brilliance” of students going higher and higher, and the CBSE results becoming better and better, the cut-off marks (min bar for admission, if you are a non-Indian reader) for some colleges in Delhi is apparently 100%. Ok. Take a deep breath. What this means is that, if you get a score of anything less than a 100%, you are automatically disqualified from even applying to that college.
I just find that super absurd. I have always found that absurd about CBSE. Grading standards, when I did my XII boards (in 1998) were pretty bad – not that I thought of it that way, then. You will get an idea when I told you that I got a 98% in Chemistry, which was my weak spot. I did not get comparable marks in other subjects (where I was not very strong in, either). Couple of years later, I heard from someone, that they had gotten 98% in English. That blew my brains out. Mortal human beings cannot get a 98% in English. The subject itself is one, where you evaluate the command over a language and is subjective. It is not mathematics, where if you solve your problems right, you CAN get a 100%. Or for that matter, the sciences as well.
Fast forward to today (2011), it looks like that this absurdity has either continued, or has worsened. When I read the papers today, and it said cut-off marks were a 100%, I was blown away.
Board examinations are competitive examinations in my opinion. These examinations decide admissions into a whole plethora of colleges. And this means that you cannot continue having template questions for which you can provide template answers and have a half a million people score 100%, and hence result in such a thing as a 100% cutoff.
In general, I have always ranted (probably not in this blog), about how the education system needs to change. I believe, the education system should cultivate and grow on an induvidual level (from a very young age), on what the individual is interested in. If a child is interested in music (and is super gifted), he should not be stuffed with the same math and science curriculum that everyone else has to endure. Note that I did not say that the child does not need to study math and science. It is a pre-req for anyone in this world to know some basic math and science – lest he not know how to count how much money is in his purse, or not know that putting his hand into an electrical socket can give him an electrical shock. The only alternative for a super gifted child these days, is to drop out of school and concentrate on his music – excellent example being AR Rehman. Interestngly, legendary Mandolin player U Shrinivas, did drop out of school, since he could not cope with the pressure, but his wise parents arranged for home tutoring, and he cleared is schooling from home.
One other change that I would love to see, is to get more practicality into the syllabus. Are we really going to benefit from learning complex calculus. Let me rephrase that – Are we “All” going to benefit from learning complex calculus? Probably not. Algebra is something that all of us need, but not calculus. Integration by parts still gives me bad dreams. Have I used differentiation and integration in the last 17 years, after I cleared school. Nope. And yep, I have a PhD to boot too :).
Another big grouse that I had, when I was growing up, but is changing slowly, was the lack of alternatives. Now, you can choose to do Industrial Design as a coarse – learn icon design, web page design, cognitive sciences, UX principles, the works. You can study animation. You can study film production. Why, you can even study packaging technology, if that is what interests you. Not long ago, either there were no alternatives, or even if they did, they had social stigmas. I am glad that both are improving. I know of guys, who go and do their degree in tourism or hotel management.
When there is so much advances that are happening in the undergraduate and graduate area – why is our schooling system still stuck up.
Anyways, I think my rant is over now. I will breathe easy. My son is just about to wake up. The sun is rising, and I will get back to reality ….