Saturday, February 25, 2006

Calling for a change

Sorry for being away for so long from the blogosphere. I had gone back to my home town to take a whiff of fresh air, a desperate change that I needed from everything that I am doing out here. Though saying a sorry does not mean that I am pledging to be regular as my exams are on my head... something which has been my cause of concern since I have taken up post-graduation in Mathematics. I am a part of a premiere university of the country...a place I had aspired to be at. Out of school, college was real fun in the initial years...everything seemed adventurous and mesmerising until I started questioning the prudence of things. I don't aim to play any blame game through this but would only like to share what I strongly feel about.

I had accepted the way things were placed to me during my graduation days in Mathematics. It is rightly said that "Ignorance is bliss" as I was ignorant and hence totally contended with the way things were happening around me. But life cannot be that merry always unless you pledge to remain ignorant throughout. As I took up my Master's in Mathematics I started moving out and meeting people, seeing things the way other veterans in my field were seeing it, reading more and more and not to forget keeping my ears and eyes open all the time (which were shut until I was enjoying everything).

I suddenly realised how badly things around me need to change...an overhaul change in the system is the need of the hour. Everybody resists change. Nobody wants to make any efforts to change what has been happening since years...all are now used to it...they eat the same thing, they walk the same thing, they talk the same thing and they sleep the same thing. I wouldn't have minded so much had this 'they' included only my peer groups but unfortunately it includes teachers and the system administrators too.

Talking a bit of the changes I think are urgently needed.

a) Agreed that in graduation level the student is required to be aware of every aspect of the subject so the course should be more extensive than being in depth, but what is surprising is that even at the Master's level the students are asked to take up subjects they don't wish to pursue at all further. Unlike in the Western Universities where you can actually design your own course here we are asked to study the options which had been framed a decade or two ago keeping in mind the interests of the students of that time. Don't the changing scene around us make it mandatory to restructure the course and provide what is aspired by the students of the present decade?

b) The examination is aimed to test the memorising abilities of a student more than the problem solving abilities. For heaven's sake this is Mathematics...I fail to understand how can somebody put the same set of question papers year after year without any alteration whatsoever? Does it at all judge the thinking ability of the student who is already aware of the type of questions that will be posed in the examination? What do you think that a student coming out of such a system will contribute to the Mathematical fraternity? Does it not reflect the the unwillingness in the part of the question setter to actually invest a little bit of time and make the question paper a bit more problematic than just posing the same theorems year after year? May be you would like to argue that it is a university for the masses and not everybody can cope up with the pressures and challenges that such question papers threat to pose. Well I would counter argue by reasoning that at least try and adopt this in the internal examination so that students get to screw their brains somewhere or make the question paper a bit more flexible so as to accommodate both the category of students.

A student who has taken a Master's degree programme in Mathematics generally opts for either teaching and imparting what has been gained in these five years or takes up research to gain further knowledge. In both the scenes it is important to weapon the student with reasoning skills which is at least expected form a premiere university I am in.

Well to end it just like to say that when you start questioning things you definitely loose out a bit as you are unable to give in your hundred percent to it then, possibly that's the reason for my drop from a topper to a 70 per center, but I don't think I should to mind that, at least I dare to question what is wrong and not accept it the way it is served to me. Any takers??

5 comments:

Ankit said...

I normally refrain myself from getting in the vicinity of toppers. Still got to ur blog via someother blogs.
VEry well said atleast i question infact if we dont we lose the very basic principle of our existence

Niedhie said...

Hey Ashish,
Thank you for writing in. Well you need not be afraid of me as I was never the know-it-all kind of a topper.

Good to know that you enjoyed reading it.

Amit said...

"Unlike in western universities...". I disagree here.

I studied in a college in mumbai, and came to the US for my masters. There's hardly a difference between the two schools. The fact that the western universities are much better and much more flexible is a bit hyped. Even here, everyone cares about grades (GPA is all what the recruiters want, they say)! Pity, everyone studies to get a job.

Niedhie said...

Amit I do agree there that yes we tend to create a bit of hype when talking about the Western Universities, but then the course we are following at the Master's level for Mathematics here is indeed too obsolete. The good papers in it which might give you scope for thinking beyond a career in academics are so badly designed that the only option you are left open with is taking up research in the subject.

Formulating a course of our own at the Master's level can help us retain our interest in the subject. I know it will need a lot of infrastucture but then at least the top universities in the country can afford to do so.

Niedhie said...

Oh so SORRY Ankit I just realised that in my reply to your comment I have addresed you as Ashish and not Ankit. The mistake is deeply regreted, will be careful next time.