Sucking the ‘earn’ out of ‘learning’.

February 2016. It’s time for the All India Secondary Something Examination. Time to submit your practical files that you copied from someone a week before the submission date. Time to bring out your project that’s on the same topic as 5 other guys in your class. Keep them in a seperate pile and get ready for your practical exam. The moment you’ve been waiting for, the moment where you can show what you’ve learned to the external invigilator.

I’m kidding. Why are you so worried, it’s not like you can possibly mess this up. The external invigilator is having his ‘samosa’ and ‘chai’, he doesn’t really care about what you say or what your project is about. Calm down. This is basically what happens during practicals. Strap on your seatbelts, it’s story time.

 Computer Science Practical

I arrived early at school, went to my homeroom class and sat by all my friends waiting for our turn for the practical exam. The whole room had a very nervous vibe to it. My classmates were pacing back and forth trying to remember how some kind of sort worked, or what a queue was. I wasn’t really nervous or anxious. I knew that I was ‘experienced’ enough to think and code whatever was assigned to me.  There were more than a few guys that still didn’t know the different between public, protected and private classes. I was bored but I had to wait.

….

It’s time. We formed a line and headed to the computer science laboratory. Upon arriving, we sat on the seats assigned to us, each having a quiz sheet, a C++ IDE – Borland (1800’s called), and some task that we had to write code for. We were given 3 hours to complete the examination. Naturally, I got the hardest one i.e. Circular Queue. But since I’m a PROGRAMMING GOD It was moderately hard, but I made the BEST cirucular queue humanly possible managed. I implemented the basic logic for the circular queue, tried to break the code and made the command line GUI look relatively nice.

Then I heard an argument between our school’s lead computer teacher and the external invigilator. He asked why we were answering SQL questions on a piece of paper instead of querying a local database on a computer. Our school made some shitty excuse that there were some problems with the computer and a fresh OS had to be installed (on all 30 computers?) so we didn’t have the software currently. There was some more back and forth but the external invigilator complied.

Next he started looking around, peeking at the code the students were writing. A lot of students pretty much just sat with a blank computer screen trying to copy the quiz answers from each other. He then came around to me, asked me a couple of questions, which I answered with great excitement. He started asking me the same old boring questions, “What’s the difference between a class and a struct?”, “What’s a reference paramater?”, “What is a null pointer?”. He complemented me on the neatness of my code and walked away. What I didn’t realize was that my teacher was nervously watching us both interact. After he went away, she came and looked at my code. It was a different implementation that her version so in her mind my code was wrong.

She then told me to wait as she was bringing her version so I could copy from it. YES. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. I wish you could see the look of disgust on my face. Righteous mode kicked in for me and I disrespectfully declined. I didn’t care that it was one of the most important examinations in my life. For me, the moment you break your morals or principals, they are not your morals anymore. They are just something you pretend to adhere to and will throw away for sometime when you see fit.

I finished the earliest. The rest of my time was spent looking at our absolutely filthy education system. As my teacher went from student to students, checking if the answers on their quiz was right, is their code correct etc, my ‘disgust meter’ kept going upward.

The chemistry and physics practical exams were the same.

My Point

The indian education system is pretty disgusting. People will talk about how our politicians are corrupt, yet they are blind to their own corruption. It’s a vicious self fulfilling cycle where each chain – Colleges, Schools, Parents, Teachers, Students – is just aiming to get good grades so that they can make other people happy. The education system is to bland for my tastes. Where does fun come in? The joy that I experienced learning about cool science-y things back in 5th grade was replaced by dread, frustration and a whole lot of indifference.

I will change that. I promise I will make education great again. The idea of holistic education is so horribly implemented that it pretty much doesn’t exist. We should be creating inventors, not technicians. We should be stuffing hope down kids’. We should teach them philosophy, psychology, how to deal with stress, failure, and anxiety. The sole motivation should not be to get good grades.

I will make education great for the first time again. You can quote me on that. Here save this:-

“I will make education great again.” -Aryan Mann

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