Friday, 26 August 2016

Interesting discussions on schooling

If the killing competition in getting marks in 10th and 12th will make our children more aggressive, and less sensitive and empathetic what would we as parents choose ?
A child with lower academic performance, but a kinder and more sensitive human being
A child that has learnt to top, and along the way learnt that others doing worse than oneself is the way to success.
I think all parents make their free choice - concsiously or subconcsiously. We did.

Radhika Ganganna Are those who are good in academics unkind, insensitive? Can't quite agree . . .
Aparna Krishnan Ok. I'll explain my theseis  . The very ranking system means that if you do better than others, you are better. So the incentive to not help others reach upto your level of performance is high. It is builtin to the system. Competition versus co-operation. And to smaller or greater degrees each of us gets corrupted. I did in school, and I saw others affected even more. My scoring marks was more important to me than helping others doing poorly score better. It makes one very very self centred at the least. And we see this carry into adult life in the general choices they make in life.
Radhika Ganganna But a good student is not responsible for the peer not doing well. The school/college has to evolve a process to have peer-to-peer help groups or some such thing. I do feel in a level based field, it rests with the individual to excel or not.
One othe...See More
Uma Kandasarma Once in college, during a Q & A session, I asked the topper in my class the answer to a question I didn't know. She said she didn't either. A few minutes later, when the teacher asked the very same question, she put up her hand and answered the question. That was quite shocking to me, as I had never come across this kind of competitiveness before. She was already the topper, there was no way I could compete with her, so why hold back one measly answer? Competitiveness is not good, it does not promote co-operation.
Aparna Krishnan And schooling and marking and ranking promotes exactly what you have described. It promotes a sickness of the soul. I would consider the topper you have described mentally sick.
Aparna Krishnan And to smaller or greater extents one gets affected by the virus of ranking.
Uma Kandasarma Yes, rank was always very important. What use is it now?
Aparna Krishnan The topper loses most. And the ones below also lose. In goodness of the heart and soul.
Aparna Krishnan One learns meanness. The other envy. Its sad. And they build a world based on these values when they grow up.
Radhika Ganganna But let's not outright declare that being a topper is a sin. Competition is required to excel in a chosen field. Kindness to fellow human beings can go hand in hand too.
Aparna Krishnan I suspect the competitiveness built into ranking mitigates the natural goodness in the human heart. Anyway that is my belief and experience. Its ok - maybe thats just my view. (There is no sinner or saint. It is the structure and system that I am critiqueing. That can nurture goodness, or nurture meanness.)
Uma Kandasarma Radhika, while being a topper may not be a sin, competition is not required in order to excel in any field. The topper, ultimately, is competing against others - and if the others are a rung below mediocre, then the topper will only be mediocre. Excelling in anything requires competing against oneself - constantly bettering oneself.
Mohammad Chappalwala i have been that person, Aparna Krishnan thesis is spot on
Aparna Krishnan So have I. How else would I know ! 
Aparna Krishnan In class 11 when my 'best friend' came and asked me to explain the English notes, I simply shrugged her off and busied myself writing the notes for myself before I would forget. The exam was the next day, and I left her to her fate - and she was weak in English. That event is seared into my memory, and even now i squirm when I remember. My love for marks was greater than my 'deep friendship'. I hope over years I improved as a human being.
Mekhala Gee you mean hypothesis not thesis?
Aparna Krishnan . a hypothesis needs to be proved ? this is proved ! does that make it a thesis ?
Mekhala Gee is it proven beyond a reasonable doubt or without any exceptions? 
Aparna Krishnan i was going to say that there are exeptions. but i think i will agree with Mohammad that there are none. It is designed to corrupt, and to some extent every child will get corrupted. Some up us try to work our way backwards and acheive some correction.
Sridhar Lakshmanan Last 4 days I have been in madurai teaching each day more than 60 prefects of different economic backgrounds the art of leadership. After an elaborate simulation game which emphasises on cooperation across teams I ask the students what they learnt one kid says that "one has to be cut throat in life to achieve success" I learn I had just spent only 6 hrs with the kid. Can't blame him there were others before me and they had the privilege of time
Aparna Krishnan Tragic. And I mean it.
Mark Johnston I was once belted in primary school for helping explain a written question to a friend when the teacher had demanded silence. I don't think it made me more competitive or less empathetic but it possibly contributed to my lack of respect for authority.
Aparna Krishnan Thats healthy. But here I am talking of ranking which means that others doing worse than one is a matter of joy !!
Mark Johnston Patrick Geddes, friend of Rabindranath Tagore, had a little positve influence on inclusive education in Scotland. I think a lot of the worst of education in India was heavily influenced by the English elitist private school system. Sadly in a globalisi...See More
Mark Johnston The house I live in was a rural school for nearly 500 years until it was closed in the 1980s to force children into bigger schools to 'improve' their education. We now grow our food in the school garden where the children of earlier generations grew their food.
Sanjay Maharishi I didn't know you lived in a school, Mark. Reminds me of a 60s film called Alice's Restaurant where a family bought and lived in a church. Must be fun!
Sunita Mudaliar I think whether they want to be competitive and be academically oriented or be mediocre and "sweet and kind" ( why do u slot people like that in B & W anyways??) is a choice that a growing child has to make. It is not a parent's call. And being sensitive and helpful towards others are values that have to be taught irrespective of academic performance. Some will learn, some may not...
Aparna Krishnan The schooling system and ranking system desensitises and hardens. That is my only point.
Aparna Krishnan And I would place sensitivity and courage to make sensitive choice, over and above ever every other learning. And those who have this are not described as 'sweet and kind'. To take a commonly known figure Medha, I would not call her 'sweet and kind'. A...See More
Sunita Mudaliar Yeah, I agree with you on that. We have the most unimaginative and originality killing academic parents have to work double hard in making up. And kudos to our kids who still manage to excel internationally too!!
Aparna Krishnan My point is not of the adademic syllabus at all. That is another case, and not my primary concern.
Gyan Mitra "A child with lower academic performance, but a kinder and more sensitive human being"
Vivek Sharma In school We were three friends, but competition three different rivals.

But I later realized that to be sensitive and friendly competition must be honest and truthful I.e. competition must be within self not with outer world. Focused for fight n struggle but at times ready for sacrifice.

Aparna Krishnan yes, and schooling primarily promotes not improveing oneself, but doing better than the other. It is structurally flawed.
Prabha Krishnan So many good points. I agree that the rankings rat race is not good for children or society. Topping and empathy should not be polar opposites but practically they are. So also efficiency and empathy- these too are polar opposites. That is the whole basis of CSR. An industry's manufacturing can devastate the country side but they 'give back ' to society through CSR. How cutely justified is that?
Sathyavageeswaran Padmanabhan Marks in 10th, 12th and degrees are important, specially for the poor. The good marks opens a window of economic prosperity. In the absence of marks or grades for selection to jobs, only children from middle class or rich would get jobs because of their connections.
Aparna Krishnan I am talking of the very concept of schooling. And of society. All livlihoods caanot, should not, and need not depending of being schooled in a sane and sustainable society. In that distorted world, yes, marks is most important - even at the cost of loss of basic values.
Aman Dewan I agree with you in toto Aparna esp as we both hail from the same school and the same cramming system .. but even though some Gurgaon schools have promoted the other side as you put it bringing out the best in them ..these poor few face a culture shock in the corporate world where aprt from work stress they face competition & politics all the time such situations it us old school crammers who normally move ahead ...just a thought..
Aparna Krishnan Yes, Aman. And frankly i did not enjoy schooling days for myriad reasons like these. There were bright spots doubtless as found in a few friends. And you were one of those bright spots ! Yes, society needs to change. We cannot 'correct schooling' in isolation. And I suspect when we build a sane and sustainable society schooling will becomes far less essential as a concept.
Aman Dewan I sometimes wonder if the SDGs (Sustainable devt goals) set in addn to MDGs are just too macro and take into account such factors thatw e discuss or do they just seek to remove poverty, hunger etc (better word should be misery) without taking a sane and logical / step by step approach that gets to the root cause ..
Aparna Krishnan The goals are on paper I suppose. The work is on the ground everywhere. Urgent work.
Prabha Krishnan All societies function on hierarchy. So too the school cramming system. The basic difference between government schools and private schools is the beginning of hierarchy. In the murky world of politics the school drop out can become a leader. We middle classes expect our service providers to be less educated. The 12th class pass girl is expected to get a good job in factories or call center to support the family.

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