Not long ago I was a student, even though our learning process never ends, the life of academic learning is almost over in my case. From outsider’s perspective, I have been an excellent student, I am sure most of my teachers would feel similar about me. I cannot blame them nor myself, we all have grown up with the same school of thought, thought being, a student is good or bad being judged by the score he gets.
When I entered school may be even before first grade, the only question people used to ask me was, so did you do well in school, did you stand first in class, and obviously my impression of purpose of school was to compete, stand first in the class, score the highest, and somewhere inbetween all this the focus on learning got lost. I really dont blame my parents on this one, in a vast country like India or may be any other country for that matter, the only hope for a middle class family is a good paying job, and as they are scarce, people are left with nothing but to compete for the top spot.
The sole focus of middle and high school was to score high enough to get into a decent pre-university college, actually decent was not good enough, we had to aim big, may be the best
college in Bangalore south, and in our times, it was National College Jayangar, [though highly debatable], anyways what I wanted to say here, is that how the priorities during schooling gets easily screwed up, all I wanted is it to get into NCJ, as it was popularly known.
Actually I was learning, not that you can score without really learning, but what I want to say is, If I had focussed on learning, I could have learnt a lot more than I actually did, and if teachers had not focussed on making us score maximum in the board exams, they could have thaught a lot more.
When I landed into university to do my bachelors, I had just missed a rank in pre-university, the fact that I did everything I could, but still failed to end up in the top had really hurt me, so my bachelors had to have that extra zing in there, an extra hard attempt to get to the top, which I had accidentally stumbled upon during high school.
I had huge plans as to how my Bachelors course would be, a lot to learn in the area I was very interested in, computers, I used to think the degree as it is called a professional course, should be more profession oriented, so we “HAVE” to learn, get to experiment, and try our hands in learning to the depths. In a way the extra determination to get to the top, ruined that entirely for me.
I was indeed learning a lot of new things, interesting ones, the logic associated with many subjects we studied was something which was extremly satisfying, but then somewhere instead of reaching the depths, I put the boundries to it, the boundry called syllabus, when I found something really interesting, instead of actually doing more research on it, I just pushed them aside,as it was not important for the course. Now If I had given more importance to those, somewhere I had to give up on some topics in syllabus, which would reduce my score, which was not at all acceptable, you had to be consistant to have a high average, and which ended with a high probability of a high paying job during on campus selections. I really don’t blame myself for any of those decisions I took, not that I couldn’t have survived without high score, just thats what was really expected out of us, we all needed a good paying job.
Somewhere all along the way learning took a back seat.
Just the other day was reading about the concept of gradeless education, which was tried as a revolution in various universities in the states during 1970s, how there used to be no evaluation of the student at all. Even though I am not sure how practical that would have been, but something really fascinating, something worth fantasising about.No evaluation would mean, that students have only one goal, thats to please themselves, something which we think is very easy, believe me, its not, we always set high standards for ourselves, and the best part is there needs to be no external force to push you onto do stuff, only you will set what is good for you, and work towards it.
This part of defining whats good for the self, whats the best I can do, is something which really fascinates me, I cant imagine anyone who would like to underestimate oneself. I guess with grades there comes a lot of complacency, and fixed targets, we aim for a top 10%, or a first class, or just to scrape through as our goals. Now when there will be no bracket goals, we tend to focus more on, what would benifit us more, where we would have more fun, and what will give us maximum satisfaction.
Something which I badly ignored during my college days was literature, I knew it was not important to get into a good college, I was so much interested in the languages, I still am, no I have never been a big reader of books, again one of the choices you need to make when you set some goals, which though look materialistic, are absolutely practical. How much would I give, to go back, and give more importance to those subjects back during pre-university.
After a long time I am thinking of pursuing one of those passions, or may be you can call craze, of mine. I finally got my lazy ass to go upto a foriegn language centre, though it turned out to be an anti-climax with it being closed for the day, I did leave my number with them, looks like they might get back to me soon on this one. Hoping to really “learn” this time around.