The Cult of Exams


I read today’s The Hindu Op-Ed ‘Beyond the Pass-Fail Binary‘ with interest. It talks about why discussing No-Detention Policy in isolation is a disservice to RTE act, and what the real problem is.

A paragraph there hit me particularly hard:

[…] Exams have a tendency to become the only motivation for learning. All educated Indians are thoroughly conditioned to believe that “no exams, no learning”. This belief is easily transferred to children in a system that has almost no idea of the joy of learning in itself.

My elder daughter wanted to skip the school today, many of the students had done the same the day before in her class. We refused, and she was visibly unhappy.It is exam time in her school, and everyone in her class is preparing for it, and she wants to do the same by skipping school!  Continue reading “The Cult of Exams”

Education is dying, and I am letting it die.

When I think of my education, I think 3 things made it worthwhile for me:

  1. Teachers who gave me space to learn at my own pace
  2. Curriculum (NCERT)that aroused curiosity and provided means to satisfy it
  3. Mentors and guides who taught without teaching – teachers, parents, seniors, friends, well-wishers

When I look at my child’s education, I find all 3 are missing:

  1. Teachers are under too much stress to complete the prescribed curriculum in the midst of myriad of activities a modern school gets involved in (song and dance competitions, events to generate PR, programmes to woe new ‘customers’) for a classroom with 40-60 students!
  2. Curriculum is replaced by content of mediocre quality (at least in lower classes) and misplaced focus on grades and competitive exams of all kinds (there are more olympiads in Indian schools than you can count)!
  3. Social connect with people is shrinking so much that there is no opportunity anymore to interact and learn, from your neighbor’s dad, your doodhwala or rickshaw-wala, ever-enthusiastic dadaji, or that ‘bhaiya who studies in IIT’!

Continue reading “Education is dying, and I am letting it die.”

World Book Fair, or a giant Book Shop?

We visited World Book Fair 2015 at Pragati Maidan yesterday. We spent about 4 hours there, and while we bought tons of books, I didn’t feel excited the way I used to feel a few years ago on the sight of books. Something was missing from the fair. I remember I had a similar feeling in the last Delhi Book Fair, which was similar but in fewer halls. This set me thinking.

I think these fairs are a big waste of time as they are structured today and not worth visiting. Continue reading “World Book Fair, or a giant Book Shop?”

स्वर गान

अ से अनार, आ से आम, अपना तो है पढ़ना काम। छोटी इ से इमली, बड़ी ई से ईख, मुन्ने राजा कुछ तो सीख। छोटा उ से उल्लू, बड़ा ऊ से ऊन, दिन में सूरज, रात में मून। ए से एड़ी, ऐ से ऐनक, ओ से ओखली, औ से औरत। अं से अंगूर, अः से अः, सीख गए हम, हिन्दी के स्वर।   A se anaar, aa se aam, Apna to hai padhna kaam. Choti e se imli, badi e se eekh, Munne raja, kuch to seekh. Chota u se ulloo, bada oo se oon, Din mein sooraj, raat mein … Continue reading स्वर गान

Started my Mandarin lessons

Finally I started my mandarin lessons, 3 days a week, 100 minutes each. First 2 classes were about sounds (called Finals in the book), and how to make simple words using the initials (consonants). I was amazed to know there are 39 finals (English has only 5 vowels and 2 semi-vowels in comparison, hindi has about 12 ‘swara’)! This is one more reason learning this will be tough. My teacher is good but her English is not good enough to understand what I am trying to communicate many times, but we are learning!

Continue reading “Started my Mandarin lessons”

Some tips about implementing e-learning initiatives

Recently, I commented on this topic for someone, and that made me look around for some help, couldn’t find any canned (and free!) listing of things to do/avoid during implementing e-learning initiatives in a developing country like India which has low bandwidth availability, large number of languages to be supported, and in general a low availability of e-learning case studies. Here is my attempt at a brief note to help such implementations (this is extremely brief!): Here are some points to keep in mind at the outset of planning and implementation: Depending on bandwidth, course content should be created so that … Continue reading Some tips about implementing e-learning initiatives

Collecting the list of organizations involved with education

Here is a list of major organizations in this area, do let me know if there are others I should add here: – Azim Premji Foundation’s work with education. – Pratham works in the area of education. – Akshara foundation, Banglore-based, involved in primary education, is a part of Pratham Education Initiative. – Smile foundation, involved in health and education And here are some directory of NGOs, not particularly good I must say: I will keep this list updated, and if you know of other major NGOs in the area or directories, do let me know. Continue reading Collecting the list of organizations involved with education

Most efficient way of impacting primary and secondary education in India

While discussing/thinking about e-shiksha, I also started thinking about what is the most efficient way in which someone can provide value to primary and secondary education in India. Here are some of the typical ways in which impact can be made: Support some students around you, monetarily or otherwise Work with an NGO Start your own NGO Help NGOs to be more effective I got introduced to some sites in Seattle who do the last one: help NGOs be more efficient by provide them help with their business plans, fund-raising, campaigns etc. NGO to help NGO seems an interesting concept and … Continue reading Most efficient way of impacting primary and secondary education in India

e-shiksha learning portal is too good, and too unused

I am getting more involved in Shiksha in general and e-shiksha in particular. Got a look at their site, thanks to the account my sister has (who is a teacher and hence she can have an account). It is indeed a very good site, but sadly, very underutilized. I guess it is a chicken-and-egg problem, since there aren’t many users, collaborative content in blogs and forums aren;t really there, hence it is not useful for users to visit them and post more. I also started talking to Mr. Narinder Bhatia who is program manager for this initiative in CII, and … Continue reading e-shiksha learning portal is too good, and too unused

Shiksha for the masses

An interesting post on venturewoods about e-learning+social-networking: elearning for all. Seems to be a good idea, and good thing is that all the technology requirements for such a venture is available. However, that sets me thinking: can such a technology be deployed to make the masses learn things? In such cases, I always try to look for 2020 vision of our president (soon to be ex-), and I found about, a portal for e-learning exclusively for teachers, built using open-source technologies. This also turned up president’s speech on the occasion of its inaugration (here), which, as usual, is pretty … Continue reading Shiksha for the masses