More thoughts on educational reform

Published on: 2009-3-31

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More thoughts on educational reform


In a previous post, I had mentioned Kishore's ideas about providing a better educational experience. Kishore's post generated some discussion - Deepak, a lecturer in Electronics at NITC has penned his thoughts here. And just now, I happened to read a post by another student, Sabu. Winds of change in the ECED department. I believe that maybe some of the blame lies with the students and the society itself. We are a big country and ever year there are around a million students who have engineering ambitions. Now, the real problem lies not with the numbers per se. The point is how many of these million students really are interested in technology and how many are motivated by the easy money alone. After the 10th standard all parents want their kids to be either engineers or doctors. There might be a lot of people with really versatile brains who can do reasonably well at almost anything even if its outside their domain of interest. So, they get top ranks and get into an engineering college. Lets take the example of NITC. My guess is that around 50 per cent of our batch is not interested in engineering and an even higher percent is not interested in electronics. I have been a teacher for more than 10 years - more than "teaching" stuff, I have tried to motivate students to explore things on their own. I was not teaching them commerce or history but computing and technology which I thought were really fascinating. Then why is it that so few of them felt the excitement? Well, the fact is that as Sabu points out, we are trying to teach electronics or computing to students most of whom have absolutely no taste for any of these things. My experience is that as a teacher you would be lucky if you can motivate maybe 10% of your audience. You can't really blame the remaining 90% - it so happens that they have no interest in what you teach. I used to be frustrated by this - the stuff I teach is *exciting* for me - then why the hell is it not exciting for my students - that is simply not right .... But now I realize that you can do much better by looking at what we can do with the 10%. Our attempts at reform should not be dragged down by the thought that no matter what we do, we may not be able to get the desired response from a majority of the students. One of the points mentioned by Kishore was doing away with the "lecture" system. That's a bold step in the right direction. Students and faculty need to interact - but that shouldn't be through hour after hour of "lectures" where the student sits as a passive "receiver". Here is the experience of an award winning mathematics lecturer on how he implemented this reform: Why (and how) I teach without long lectures. There is a thread about this on the sage-edu mailing list. If a subject like math can be taught in this way, then I am sure we can do even better for Engineering subjects.

vipul singh

Wed Jun 10 06:06:47 2009

this is true to the core and more than that..its rather the orthodox teaching which is responsible for the 90% students in college. What students 2day want is fast understanding and wont it be better if those slow teaching ways are moulded into self stufy subjects and heavy interaction bated tutorials...then only sumthin might cgange...well its only s suggesting :D