Educational systems around the world have been designed in such a way that we gauge a child’s intelligence by the child’s performance in exams. Right from the moment a child enters kindergarten, we create a sense of competition in the mind of the child and reward them for studying well. This turns into a life-long struggle, from kindergarten to high-school and then into university and one’s professional career; it is just one race wherein academic brilliance seems to be the big goal. One common refrain that we hear from our parents and families in our childhood is – “If you study well, and get good marks, you will be successful.” This is an incredible paradox! Some of the richest people that I know, don’t even have a regular college degree.
The world over, we are seeing growing discontent amongst students, teachers and educators, alike who are voicing out their concerns about a standardized examination system that only tests the students’ bookish knowledge. This is the same system that has given rise to the ‘coaching centre phenomenon’, which is a billion-dollar business in India. Earlier we used to see students getting into tuition centres for help with Maths and Science when they entered class nine or ten. But now it is not surprising to see students as young as five years and six years of age being dispatched to coaching centres to improve their grades. The other big fixation that parents in India have is to send their wards to IITs or see them as doctors. There are specialized coaching centres across the length and breadth of the country, which promise 100% results ensuring that the student will definitely enter medical school or an IIT. Places like Kota in Rajasthan have turned into ‘IIT Coaching Factories’. We regularly see the tragic news stories of stressed students committing suicide in Kota. These are students from various parts of the country who make this journey to Kota and spend two years of their lives living in hostels and preparing for their IIT or AIIMS entrance exam.
So, do we have any other viable options at all that can help determine the intelligence and caliber of a student??
Yes, there are a few options that are being tried out in some schools around the world. These include:
Adaptive Testing – An advanced testing system, wherein the test is computer-based and the questions are asked based on the students’ right/wrong answers for questions asked in a sequence.
Using Simulations – Creating a simulated environment, wherein the student is presented with a scenario and a case and asked to come up with a solution in real-time.
e-Portfolios – Students showcase their creative and technical skills by building prototypes of working models. This is of great significance to industries and is increasingly being used in vocational training centres.
Life Skills – At the end of the day, a good education should make you a responsible citizen and let you find a god job with a regular income. In addition, to text-book learning, it is important that students are taught life-skills that cover a wide variety of topics from etiquette, dressing, public speaking, dining manners and much more. A holistic education prepares the student to become a successful individual and it is essential that we look at Moral Science lessons in an altogether different light. Remember, the Golden Words continue to remain – “Please, Thank You and Sorry”.
India Grid for Learning:
India Grid for Learning offers an interactive digital learning experience through its state-of-the-art digital content library that features content and learning resources from over 50 academic publishers. The system is designed to make learning a pleasure and not a chore and will definitely improve the retention of learning leading to a better academic score. Not just academic scores but students will genuinely be interested to learn more about subjects and topics that they like. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about IGfL and the portfolio of learning products that we offer.
To conclude, it is going to take a long time for any system to change completely and the current academic testing system is definitely not going to change overnight. What can be achieved is finding an optimum balance in testing academic knowledge, life & social skills, computing skills and career-readiness. The past 20 to 30 years have seen a tremendous growth in technology and the future beckons with immense possibilities; it would be completely unfair to still use 19th century assessment systems to check if a student is intelligent enough to be a part of the glorious future that lies ahead!