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Is the teaching in our schools actually educating our children? Not really, according to a few grim surveys...


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Daily Mail
Digression
1
Feb 27, 2012
Pure Academic Disinterest

Apropos your piece It’s Plain Murder, By Rote (Feb 13), I had a visitor, Jaeseaninge, who is French and works at one of the ‘Steiner’ schools in France. Steiner nurtures virtues generally unheard of in Indian schools. It was a delight listening to her. To quote: “I came to India seven years ago as a tourist. I visited Rajasthan, where I went for an enjoyable camel safari. When I came back, I introduced the camel driver to my 20-year-old daughter. He was a young man who belonged to the Bhil tribe. Totally illiterate. A tribe which did not believe in building homes. They used sticks to make temporary beds. My daughter said, ‘This is the man I want to marry.’ And marry him she did! She had a baby at the end of the year. I brought her to France for childbirth. She insisted on taking her baby back with her to India. I have just visited her and her family.” She also asked me about Laurie Baker-type buildings in our school. I told her 40 masons and coolies could work on concreting in Baker style tomorrow. “Have you invited parents to come and help? I’d have done that in our Steiner school.” My mouth fell open! No answers! One day when we can give parents an open invitation to come and help us with harvesting paddy in the school field; or help with a cultural programme; or help in building, levelling and painting programmes, India’s schools would be a lot more vivacious and less dull than the rote learning centres they now are.

Mary Roy, Pallikoodam, Kottayam

There was time when a 10th-class pass could write a good letter and be an expert accountant in small businesses thriving in small-town India. Their not-quite-fanciful education came from very unfashionable schools back then. Now we have international schools with air-conditioned classrooms teaching international syllabi using PowerPoint and customised software. Being international, naturally they forget to teach who Mahatma Gandhi is. In my class of 40 students, to the question—“How many of you have seen Attenborough’s Gandhi?”—I got just one ‘yes’, from a German national! Now we don’t just teach. We make the students all-round personalities. In that hurry to do something different, what schools have lost is academic atmosphere.

Abraham Eapen, Ivy League Academy, Hyderabad

In India, we go to school or college to get a certificate or degree, not to get educated. The present curriculum is hopelessly out of sync with the needs of a tech-savvy, internet-exposed generation. It is a telling commentary on the state of affairs that those who survive the school/college ordeal and get admitted to elite professional institutions do so by dint of their own hard work, private tuitions and joining expensive tutorials...their alma mater has hardly any role in their success. One solution: make teaching a sought after, remunerative profession with tough qualifying standards and incentives if their wards make it to competitive examinations.

Vinod Gangadharan, Bangalore

For every teacher who teaches students to cram, there is a great teacher who teaches them to create. As a history lecturer said recently at our Class 12 farewell, a great English teacher can coax Vikram Seths and Amitava Ghoshs out of students. This report is skewed. The cbse is a prison we do work under, but no one says don’t create, don’t ignite, and forget about being a catalyst.

Uma Nair, English Coordinator, Don Bosco, Alaknanda, New Delhi

As per 2008-2010 government estimates for primary education, the current average per child expenditure is Rs 6,314. The budget for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan swelled by almost three times in five years to Rs 21,000 crore in 2011. Yet this higher spending on education is not bringing in the expected results, as these surveys show.

Shamael Jafri, Lakhimpur Kheri

The root of all these problems is the absolutely dismal record of government spending on primary education in India. It is no good subsidising elite universities like IITs while throttling our primary and secondary schools. The families of more than an overwhelming majority of children here don’t have the luxury of sending their children to private schools. They need to make do with the state schooling system which, needless to say, is a cruel joke.

Pankaj Vaishnavi, London

A society whose children cannot figure out algebra or Newton’s law is not half as worrying as its children lacking civic, citizenship and social awareness. But then in a country where mathematics and science are perceived to be the most valued and relevant, to the exclusion of all else, and where teachers themselves are barely able to ensure comprehensive learning beyond preparing them for competitive exams, one can imagine the very dismal state of social science teaching. Ergo, no surprise when the Wipro survey reports that many kids feel girls need not go to school (and immigrants and outsiders have to conform to a state’s dominant culture). Secondly, the component to ensure empathetic learning as against the ability to be informed—which the likes of Giri Balasubramaniam equates with learning and makes a case for quiz contests, out of which he seems to make a fortune—depends on equally empathetic teachers. But our school-teachers are doing a job no one else wants to do. The emotionally and intellectually demanding profession has been proletarianised and feminised (in an uncreative sense).

R.S. Krishna, Hosur

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1/D-61
Feb 04, 2012
03:45 PM

One of the legacies that MMS is soon going to leave behind, after almost one decade of sky-high GDP growth, is going to be his failure to keep up his promise of 7% GDP towards education. IF kept, this would have automatically led on to the improvement in skills etc. Instead, here is a man who insisted on concentrating only on women education.

At least, the future generations will hopefully remember what unaccountable politicians can do to spoil their lives.

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
2/D-81
Feb 04, 2012
05:16 PM

 The falling standard of primary education in 
india is a grim reality.The reason is commercialisation
of primary education. If you want to mint money,think of
a Christian saint and start an English medium School
naming it after the saint. Quality,who cares, the parents
are guillible and once they enrol the kid in such school
their job ends.

V.N.K.Murti
pattambi, India
3/D-98
Feb 04, 2012
08:14 PM

10 per cent of Class 4 students in top urban Indian schools believe that Mahatma Gandhi is alive ...........  Education sector is the last control over intellects. Congress will never let it go.

After my School, I wanted to read history, then realised it was heavily bised. Decided to read maths/stat as my second option.

ANBanerjee
Newcastle, United Kingdom
4/D-107
Feb 04, 2012
09:22 PM

 “There’s no meaning of teaching if a teacher is not able to make his disciple understand that it’s not always 2+2 that makes 4 but even 3+1 is capable of doing it.”

Rajneesh Batra
New Delhi, India
5/D-90
Feb 05, 2012
05:13 PM

 For every teacher who teaches students to cram,there is a great teacher who teaches them to create.Recently,when we had our Class 12 Farewell,a History Lecturer gave the ultimate tribute when she said that a great  english teacher could stir Vikram Seths or Amitava Ghoshs out of students.

This report is skewed .The CBSE is a prison that we work under,but no one says dont create-dont ignite,dont stir and forget about being a catalyst.

Teachers have to ask themselves how much justice they do,what they can inspire and how to do it.We have to keep reinventing ourselves-and edge students to work hard.The problem today lies with parents who want to let their kids sleep,who want to keep them at home,who want short cuts to academics,and also get high grades.

Hard work never had substitutes.Think of simple habits like reading!!!!How many schools,teachers,parents encourage reading.I have heard teachers say:They dont read!!How can we do anything?

Recently at a workshop I requested to teachers to teach 2 new words a day-it would become 10 a week and 40 in a month.When I asked in later weeks-what was the outcome?They said:Oh we forgot...Oh its not possible always to remember.

The classroom is a mere room,it is upto us to kindle the candle of knowledge in the best way possible and excite application and analysis.For instance when I set a comprehension passage on Steve Jobs from the NYT,one English teacher...says:This is too tough!!!Another said:What's the use?

They dont want to read,dont want to step outside their level of mediocre comfort-which they must-and if we have teachers who dont read-how can students read??

But never say there are no good teachers-there always are-they dont boast,dont stand in front of media-but they do an honest day's work.Thank God for great teachers.

Its a generational change-an attitude that says Chalta Hai to everything.

UMA NAIR ENGLISH CO-ORDINATOR

DON BOSCO ALAKNANDA DELHI

uma nair
new delhi, India
6/D-61
Feb 06, 2012
06:01 PM

A society whose children cannot figure out algebra or Newton's law is not half as worrying as its children's lacking civic, citizenship and social (and perhaps even political) awareness. Indeed India as we know it, suffers not just because we don't have very many doctors or engineers and 'globally competitive' companies but because we are as a society bereft of citizenship attributes. But then in a country where Mathematics and Science are perceived to be the most valued and relevant to the exclusion of everything else, and if its teachers themselves are barely able to ensure comprehensive learning beyond preparing them for competitive entrance exams, one can imagine the very dismal state of social science teaching.  Ergo no surprise when the Wipro survey reported that many kids feel immigrants and outsiders have to confirm to the dominant traditions of the state!

Secondly, the component to ensure empathetic learning as against ability to be informed which likes of Giri Balasubramaniam equates with learning and makes a case for quiz contests, (out of which he seems to make a fortune), depends on equally empathetic teachers. But in India school teachers are doing a job which no one else wants to do. The emotionally and intellectually demanding profession of school teaching, has been feminized and proletarnized. Given what we think of our women and working classes who are merely expected to take orders, bossed around and underpaid and all of which gets operationalized in a fashion similar to conveyor belt approach of factories, it is unsurprising that not much is happening in our schools. 

R.S.Krishna
Hosur, Tamil Nadu, India
7/D-78
Feb 06, 2012
07:51 PM

 A society whose children cannot figure out algebra or Newton's law is not half as worrying as its children's lacking civic, citizenship and social (and perhaps even political) awareness. Indeed India as we know it, suffers not just because we don't have very many doctors or engineers and 'globally competitive' companies but because we are as a society bereft of citizenship attributes. But then in a country where Mathematics and Science are perceived to be the most valued and relevant to the exclusion of everything else, and if its teachers themselves are barely able to ensure comprehensive learning beyond preparing them for competitive entrance exams, one can imagine the very dismal state of social science teaching. Ergo no surprise when the Wipro survey reported that many kids feel girls need not go to school (and immigrants and outsiders have to confirm to the dominant traditions of the state!)

Secondly, the component to ensure empathetic learning as against ability to be informed which likes of Giri Balasubramaniam equates with learning and makes a case for quiz contests, (out of which he seems to make a fortune), depends on equally empathetic teachers. But in India school teachers are doing a job which no one else wants to do. The emotionally and intellectually demanding profession of school teaching, has been feminized and proletarnized. Given what we think of our women and working classes who are merely expected to take orders, bossed around and underpaid and all of which gets operationalized in a fashion similar to conveyor belt approach of factories, it is unsurprising that not much is happening in our schools.

R.S.Krishna
Hosur, Tamil Nadu, India
8/D-81
Feb 06, 2012
08:24 PM

" Gaurav Tekriwal, president of the Vedic Math Forum, sees a crisis looming. 'Even though parents and kids are warming up to Vedic Maths and Abacus classes..' "

You know that things are pretty bleak with the Indian education system, when the nation's journalists don't know any better than to ask the peddlers of "Vedic Maths" to comment on mathematics teaching in the country!

What's next? .. "Vedic Science", "Vedic Astronomy", "Vedic History", "Vedic Sociology" etc, until we turn into a nation of illiterate nomadic cattle-herders like in the 'good old' Vedic times and use cows for currency.

Pankaj Vaishnavi
London, United Kingdom
9/D-83
Feb 06, 2012
08:41 PM

On a more serious note, the root of all these problems is the absolutely dismal record of Govt. spending on primary education in India. It is no good subsidising elite universities like IITs (which, by the way, have a very small R&D foot-print in the world) while throttling our primary and secondary schools.

The families of an overwhelming majority of kids in India (assuming if the kids survive beyond age 5) don't have the financial means to send them to private schools. They need to make do with the state schooling system, which I needn't aver is little more than a cruel joke. To top it off, we have a severe child malnutrition problem, which results in sub-normal cognitive development of children, evidenced in low IQ scores and severely diminished academic ability. To give an example, the average IQ of people in war-torn Afghanistan is 84 points compared to 80 in India and 109 in China.

So, I am not surprised by the results of the survey mentioned in this report. India is endowed with great human and natural resources and I feel increasingly saddened by the way in which the country is squandering both at an unprecedented rate.

Pankaj Vaishnavi
London, United Kingdom
10/D-72
Feb 07, 2012
01:14 PM

Very sad to see the statistics & research results, where are we heading to? An article wrote by me in my blog regarding eduation in India, the link is http://thisiswhatindiandemocracy.blogspot.in/2011/08/what-is-education-in-india.html

Navaneethan
Chennai, India
11/D-57
Feb 08, 2012
01:40 PM

Looking at this article and at the commentaries of some of the mentioned 'educationists,' it looks like we have a case of Products of Rote Learning taking a dig at (what they think constitutes) Rote Learning.

Writing something like, "the smart Indian techie, the world-beating Indian students at spelling bee contests and math quizzes, the brainy, high-IQ geniuses at Ivy League colleges, are they all a thing of the past?," and treating that as a clever and an 'Unrote' thing to say is indicative of the mainstream society's root in Rote Learning.  

laikhuram thoreau
Shillong, India
12/D-74
Feb 08, 2012
04:06 PM

"HRD minister Kapil Sibal admits as much. “What we need is a paradigm shift in the way we teach and the way children learn,” he says."

I understand a paradigm shift, as hard as it is for us, in the way we teach. What is a paradigm shift in the way children learn - children learn the way they always do - what is to change - children are great learner - the challenge is usually who is teaching and how?

"adds Sibal. “We must ensure the quality of government schools matches that of private schools.”"

Brilliant - why didn't anyone else think of this :-). The trick dear, Sir, is actually doing this. You want my suggestion - make it mandatory for the progeny of various elected representatives, and senior bureaucrats/functionaries e.g., the DM, judge, police have to attend the local government school. I can assure you the schools will improve in a jiffy. The reason the Army schools are good is because a large part of the army irrespective of level uses it. For me it is not unfair - you want the benefits of the Government employment - this is the price for it. Nobody is forcing to take up Government employment - you can always go find an alternative if you not like this rule.

Arun Maheshwari
Bangalore, India
13/D-50
Feb 09, 2012
01:13 PM

" - make it mandatory for the progeny of various elected representatives, and senior bureaucrats/functionaries e.g., the DM, judge, police have to attend the local government school. "

BRILLIANT SOLUTION! I hope someone is listening.

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
14/D-72
Feb 09, 2012
03:26 PM

The problem is primarily with the modern day student. Most of our kids nowadays seem only interested in getting high marks without learning anything. What is worse is that they are actively supported in this by both their parents and by the government. There was a time not too long ago when a 95% aggregate in class X or Class XII got you a national or state rank. Nowadays everyone seems to be crossing the 98% mark with ease and a 95% isn't enough even to get you a seat in a college. This is not because our kids have become geniuses, far from it, but because teachers and evaluators have been forced to give higher and higher grades to undeserving students. To make things worse, students don't require to pass essential subjects like Maths to clear Class X these days. How can teachers have the motivation to teach is such a system, and how will good quality students survive in an atmosphere that is programmed to breed mediocrity? No wonder our schools produce only dimwits nowadays.

G.Natrajan
Hyderabad, India
15/D-26
Feb 10, 2012
07:23 AM

14 D, Nataraj,

Before calling all students 'dimwits', I suggest you look again at your own views.

If indeed children have to get 98% to get in college, imagine the PRESSURE they have, compared to earlier generations.

The expectations that MMS would increase seats etc., has not materialised. He seems content with sending his own daughters abroad. 'Ordinary' students are expected to fight among themselves for the paltry higher education on offer ( and that too, nowadays new graduate seats are started only for women ).

There is another side to this story too.

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
16/D-79
Feb 10, 2012
02:48 PM

Male Unblocked:

It is a lot easier to get 98% now than it was a few years ago. The standards of the question papers have fallen dramatically. If anything, the earlier generations were under greater pressure to get into professional colleges. Nowadays the numbers of seats in professional colleges have gone up exponentially, as have the job opportunities in every sector. In fact, you don't even need a professional degree to get into a good job these days. Even BAs and BSCs from second grade colleges are now getting jobs in companies and call centres and earning five figure monthly salaries. Compared to people like me who grew up in the license -permit era, the kids nowadays have it very easy indeed.
Pressure is what we experienced during the early 1990s when we had even PhDs giving tutions to make ends meet.

G.Natrajan
Hyderabad, India
17/D-83
Feb 10, 2012
03:34 PM

?16 D nataraj,

EVERY generation thinks it was the 'most pressured' - and has MANY MANY reasons for it too. For eg., the 90s generation did not have the job insecurity of the present.

The real dimwits are those who dont understand this, and call others dimwits.

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
18/D-87
Feb 10, 2012
04:47 PM

Male Unblocked:

The only secure jobs during the 1990s were the government ones. The private sector never had secure jobs even then. At least nowadays economic liberalistion has ensured that there are plenty of opportunities even for people who lose their jobs. It wasn't so in the 1990s. I doubt you ever existed during those times, so don't lecture about something you don't have a clue about. This, along with a near Talibanic hatred and fear of women, are the biggest signs of dimwittedness. I rest my case.

G.Natrajan
Hyderabad, India
19/D-98
Feb 10, 2012
06:41 PM

18D,

Nataraj, your post reminds one, that aging does not necessarily make one brighter. Especially older males like you, who invariably turn out to be misandrists too.

Boys today face far much discrimination and even violence, thanks to the stereotyping by the media. Girls are the preferred species - whether in schools, colleges or employment.

Please dont pontificate on your theories about students these days being 'dimwits'. As for tests the media uses ( probably to 'prove the dimwitted ness' of these students), I doubt you can understand that these so-called 'tests' are not reliable. 

But the point is that ALL generations, including yours ( using specious 'findings' ), universally think all other generations are dimwits.

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
20/D-107
Feb 10, 2012
08:09 PM

Male Unblocked:

If you had bothered to read and understand the article, it would have dawned  upon you that it is NOT  the media which tested the students. The tests in question were conducted by organisations like PISA,  Pratham and Education Initiatives, which specialise in such surveys.  Writing trash and jumping to wrong conclusions without even bothering to read things properly is a classic symptom of dimwittedness. I'm sorry if you were ever discriminated against, but dimwitted misogynists usually end up suffering that fate, especially ones who cannot read properly.

G.Natrajan
Hyderabad, India
21/D-96
Feb 11, 2012
06:38 PM

DIMWITTED NATARAJAN,

I KNOW that PISA conducted the test and that the media reported it on its headlines.

IF YOU CANT UNDERSTAND ENGLISH, the media should not be publishing findings like these which are not properly conducted and reach unreasonable conclusions.

Male Unblocked
Chennai, India
22/D-105
Apr 17, 2012
05:01 PM

 My experience as a teacher tells me that:

1.The teachers are unable to connect whatever they teach to real life

2. The teacher does not identify the skills each child must have.

3. They just teach to simly complete the syllabus

4. They just do not bother to know if the children have understood what they have taught.

5. Their evaluation technique is faulty

6. They don't plan out what to teach and how to teach

7. There is an urgent need to find out why such a thing is happenning. It may be due to overcrowded classes, lack of teaching tools and lack of training etc etc

kewal krishan dhawan
new delhi, India
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