Sunday, 17 September 2017

Testing times

              Too bad the creative muse has been elusive for a while now. So here's something I wrote when I was young and foolish and full of hope. (Edited for length. Rants retained.)

             “Cut-off” – So popular is the Indian context of the word that if you look it up on the internet, only two results give the actual meaning of the phrasal verb. For those who do not know, cut-off is the term referring to the aggregate marks scored in 'core' subjects (excluding languages).

              The Board-exam season is also the time when a good number of students attempt to commit suicide. Debating the morality of suicide is failing to address the core issue - the perils of high-stakes testing.

              So passé, but the current system of education tests nothing but memory. It doesn’t even demand complete knowledge of the topics dealt with. If your answer sheet is a photocopy of your textbook, you get to sail past everything and land in a reputed college. Else, you’re doomed - or that’s what it's made out to be. A three-hour memory test to decide on a child’s potential - bright idea!

             ‘Practicals' do form part of the syllabus, but observations and inferences are written long before the experiments are actually performed. We actually go about memorizing the procedure, observations and, hold your breath, even readings! Not to mention the common accusation - schools teach nothing about practical skills like financial management.

              The textbook prescribed by the Government is addled with mistakes and is outdated. The Class XII Chemistry textbook, the first edition of which came out in 2006 (and is still in use) states that India ‘recently’ launched SLV-3. India has launched a lot of other space vehicles after this one. Maybe this is one reason why students from the region find it difficult to fare well in competitive exams.

              Compounding the misery of rote mugging, there's this notion that Medicine and Engineering are the only two fields that are lucrative. All parents want is for their kids to settle. Well-meaning as they might be, they kill and bury their kids' dreams (especially artistic ones) and allow themselves the liberty of making decisions on their behalf. They either don't want their kid to fail at all (which is impossible) or they want their kids to achieve all that they themselves couldn't.

              Lucky are those whose passion (which, apparently, by its very nature, is non-profitable) is their profession. I do not wish to live the same year sixty times over and call it a life.

              I really wish that some day, someone reads this and wonders, “Looks like a piece of fiction!”

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