Article

CHANGING INDIAN EDUCATION FROM COPY TO CREATE

By RITUPARNA ROY CHOWDHURY

INDIAN NOBLE LAUREATES

A pertinent question that comes to one’s mind is – Why are there so few Indian Nobel laureates in the field of Science, when our scholars are thronging the world over as professors, researchers and scientists?

THREE QUESTIONS

In this respect, let us look into three more questions mentioned below, which would enable us to logically analyze the real reasons:-

Why Academic Brilliance Need Not Always Translate Into Professional Excellence? Are Academic Toppers Followers Or Trend Setters? Can Ordinary Students Deliver Extra-ordinary Results?

From the above, we need to ponder over why the most brilliant minds who compete and complete their studies with the best brains often fail to deliver similar excellence in their profession? Again many a times, ordinary students produce extra-ordinary results, emerging as trendsetters, while academic toppers turn out to be followers.

THE SYMBOLIC ANSWER

If symbolically seen, the answer can be traced to hordes of students at a photo-copy centre beside any well known college, busy getting subject related notes copied. Unfortunately, they don’t feel inspired to create a copyright!

BOOKISH KNOWLEDGE

The flaw, no doubt, lies in our education system, which hinges on bookish knowledge. Added to that, since qualifications and degrees are considered as barometers of competence in the job market, career compulsions force students to prefer degrees over learning, imitation over innovation, stereo-type jobs over challenging roles and creative performance opportunities.

Although talent lies in innovation and not in imitation, such an exam oriented system has created a tailor-made coaching class syndrome, where primary concerns are scores and ranks, with little desire for creative thinking. Thus, pursuing a top-rank or high academic score usually blunts our students’ imaginative thinking from the very beginning.

Cramming theories and memorizing formulae can bring good scores and higher grades, but takes away the very essence of an inventing mind in a student – that of inquisitive thinking. So they grow up accepting established theories and practices, without learning to question them? Imagine, had Issac Newton simply eaten the apple without thinking why it fell down, perhaps the world would have not known the law of gravitation.

INTRODUCING DYNAMIC KNOWLEDGE

Higher education, coveted academic degrees and talent are meaningless unless we are able to make significant contribution to our areas of study by identifying newer opportunities and giving shape to more advanced systems and procedures. In fact, static knowledge with little passion to probe, find and create fails to match a dynamic world of science that is deeply rooted in innovation.

Those at the helm of affairs in the Indian education system today need to break this pattern and create one for developing inquisitive minds. The curriculum at all levels should be re-designed in such a way so that the quintessence of education revolves around challenging existing systems and proven technologies, as also unearthing unexplored areas. For nurturing imagination can only take us to a world of thrilling breakthroughs – in almost every walk of life.

Policy makers need to realize that in this fast evolving world, transformational progress can only be achieved through innovative thinking, unique ideas and ground-breaking discoveries. Thus novel teaching methods and more research oriented learning opportunities need to be incorporated in the Indian academic arena that would inspire students to create rather than to copy!

CHANGING EVALUATION CRITERIA

Our system awards certificates, diplomas and degrees based on knowledge acquired through different academic courses. As opposed to that, evaluation and qualifying criteria should be based on an index that measures the quantum of change a student can bring about through his studies and work. In this method, the number of newer answers sought and achieved by respective candidates would reveal the degree of inventing mind within students. Such processes can only establish the true meaning of scholarly learning by re-defining education as one which uses knowledge to bring about sustained change and advancements.

Unfortunately, we faithfully follow formulae without a drive to dive into re-inventing newer theories. On the other hand, extra-ordinary results are an outcome of imaginative application of ideas, which many a top ranking scholar may lack in.

FORMULAE CRUNCHING

In short, formulae crunching is what ails our education system – we should replace it by ideas hunting, as also cutting ‘copy’ to nurturing ‘create’ in search of incremental value!