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Friday, July 25, 2014

All assembled...Now the SUFFER begins...


             All assembled...Now the SUFFER begins...

continued from~Let's All Assemble~

             I would be exhausted already even before the assembly began. The previous day's stress wouldn't be relieved even after a six hour sleep. I'd never sleep in the afternoons, because it was the only time I would get to play. The load of assignments would be never ending. Moreover, the continuous comprehensive evaluation made me study almost daily. Although, I did it with ease (hardly two chapters which would never be challenging). What was tough, what was challenging, what was annoying was the amount of work and stress all of it built up to.
Please, my scientific buddies I don't mean displacement x force by the term "work". 
       Actually, the boredom, anguish and disappointment that came along with the exam and the syllabus were more stressful for me than anything else! The evenings would be spent doing revision or completing assignments.
       Doing all these tasks was a mammoth WORK. Early in the morning I'd be like --- the "me" in Sleepy or too Very Silly or the "me" in Good Morning!!!
            The assembly was least encouraging. The cycle of exams and assignments had caused me, or rather majority of children lose interest in any type of studies. I neither had interest in PxRxT/100, this type of interest; nor in P(1+R/100) n, this type of interest....
         The reasons didn't lie in my dislike for the subject but in the dislike for the assessing and process of learning, if at all there was learning.
      Nevertheless, the day began - in the actual sense. Mathematics or Geography would usually be the subject by which the day would begin.
       All the sepoys and troops in hiding, would leave their hideouts in form of washrooms and water filters (in or behind which they hid in order to escape the assembly). The ones who had finally decided to attend the assembly would bid the final goodbye and exchange winks with their friends in other classes. Then, for an hour, a majority of students would be seen either napping creating nuisance for the teacher or taking strolls in the school toilets. The most loved and most hated subjects would take over the uninterested minds of even more uninterested students.
I, however, have always had a soft corner for mathematics; the only reason being my capabilities of doing it. The portion and syllabus of Math was extremely, incredibly and ridiculously vast. I always enjoyed doing Algebra and Geometry. 
         The joy and sense of victory, of accurately completing a challenging sum was unmatched. Anyways, another day has passed and I haven't used binomial conjugate, unitary methods or the laws of exponents in any arena of my life. Most probably, it is never going to be remembered by me, except when my children learn it in school and ask me to help them out(if I send them, that is!!!!).
     I enjoyed math until it didn't suck me up. The number of sums and problems that proudly harassed students were repetitive and too monotonous. I found many concepts and things very dull and was unable to find application in most of the stuff, like I earlier could. It is impossible to find application of life in (a+b)2= a2+2ab+b2.
I am definitely not going to pay in (a+b)2 where a = 5 and b = 7 rupees.         Even paying a mathematician won't mean me talking to him using equations and formulae. 


     I don't wish to do anything related to math. Although, knowing it and doing it just for the knowledge was fun… 
          Does it take a test for every topic taught and nearing fifty sums and problems to assess my knowledge of math.
Geometry would also pop up questions in my head.
      First of all my geometric equipment would be in a perpetual state of rest and disorder.
The fourth law of motion: Any geometric equipment continues in its state of disorder in God knows which direction unless a geometry chapter begins and the teacher asks for it...!!!
Sorry Newton!!! 
     The compass (rounders) and dividers would only be found when one of them would pierce a hole in my bag and poke me in the thighs. Scales and pencils would be the swords or spears in the artillery of my brother's imaginary war... The geometry box would have nothing but, freckles of the sharpener and two unsharpened broken pencils! A setsquare, would have gained enough inertia of rest, and I am sure it wouldn't move unless an external unbalanced force may be a crane acted on it; had I gone to school for two more years.
The protractors would never be in one single piece…25° in the bag, 72° in the tiffin section, 37° in the the water pouch and the rest , with Pythagoras, maybe!!!
     So, you can imagine my situation on the day I was told to carry my geometric stuff to the school!!! 
       Geometry really cannot be described or cursed in words!
It was (side1)2 + (side2)2= (hypotenuse)2 . However, it was easier to make sense of it. At least compared to Algebra. (The textbook, however, didn't make sense). Of course; but in the larger picture it definitely did. Geometry is full of theorems and properties. Nothing has to be created or searched for. Everything is just there, once remembered everything has to be proven using those properties. All I need to do is find x or the angles
        The base comes from already proven facts, proven by people who never learned geometry at school. They did everything, I didn't and I did things, they didn't. Lucky they! Descartes lay in his couch and thought of calculating the distance of a point from the ceiling and walls; then, he taught the world co-ordinate Geometry. I don't think anyone would be allowed to lie on the couch all day; with the excuse of " Dad! One day I'll be like Descartes if I lie on the couch all day!". I'm sure s/he won't come out alive if s/he attempts such stunts.
       The syllabus being so extensive, there were nearly 50-60 problems in a single chapter. So many constructions in geometry- the same method but different measurements. Doing these sums again and again, probably triggered the disinterest in students. There wasn't an exchange of knowledge or enthusiasm between the students and teachers. Majority of children lose interest for this very reason.
         On top of this there was a massive bulky homework which had to be submitted the next day. Plus on the day of the exam all of it has to be practiced. I, as I said earlier fared well always scoring full marks!!!! [Bless my dad!]. Anyways, the stress caused by all these factors was inappropriate for a teenager, or anybody! It is rather difficult to find a solution to these problems. They are a result of what we call wrong methods of learning. According to me, knowledge is about learning and not teaching. However, if one is forced to do a syllabus that s/he can't connect to, or understand, why students are unable to assimilate or give good results, is quite Clear.
        I've seen so many of my friends struggling with Math. Literally, they are helpless and unable to learn. Some hate it, some love it, but are unable to do it. At the end it is the formal grading system that does all the damage- to the confidence, self-esteem and dignity. Disappointment causes the child to lose interest in… Learning? Education? Life?
        Talking about uniformity, in the syllabus, there is absolutely none. Each child in society has to learn the same and progress chronologically with children of his age. Where is it? Today, there are distinguished boards that have different syllabus. Different schools operate with varied types of portions. 
         A state board student learns a particular topic in the ninth grade, while a child in an international or national board has already learnt in the seventh grade. School A has omitted chapters 8-10 while school B completes all chapters (ruthless!!!). School C has kept 8 and 10 for project work and School D has omitted 6 and 8 (what's wrong with 8???). 

       Where is the uniformity? There is none, neither among boards nor schools! And then, we ask. Ask questions that change our lives...
         Am I enjoying the learning process at school? Am I even learning? Am I supposed to or even want to learn these things? Is it necessary to give an evaluation, unit test, semester or any exam in order to know my capabilities, knowledge or intelligence?  Am I willing to keep doing the same monotonous work over and over again, without actually gaining anything? Is it supposed to be a competition for marks or a beautiful learning process? I got my answers when I decompressed and unlearned. Hopefully, I've got the answers right- 25 on 25...ooops is it a semester, then it is 80 on 80…!!!

   What Followed (a+b)(a-b)...
  Yes, geography did. Land masses, longitudes, latitudes, grids, countries, vegetation, wildlife and everything a nature lover would love to read about. I am, myself quite a nature lover. However, I am sure, if any of you nature lovers are handed over textbooks, you'd be devastated….
      Maybe, because you know more than the book wants you to, or things you don't want to know. Although, I love nature, I don't wish to know a lake that exists 50,000 km away from me- the river it feeds, the rivers that come out of it! No doubt I'd love to know the soil, the agriculture, and cultural life of people. Political boundaries of countries, and which industry is located where, is irrelevant, for me at least. I don't want know that a particular country lies on latitude blah blah blah south or $%%@%& north...!!! I have no business, with Mr. Someone or Captain Somebody discovered something. At least, I don't wish to memorize a brief answer and waste my internal memory for it (No doubt I have enough memory in my brain in order to download every game that is in the market for the coming 5000 years; I'd prefer a 2TB GAMES AND DOCUMENTARIES rather than a digest full of irrelevant stuff).
          I really don't understand, what is the requirement of brief answers, or even word-to-word answers. Why can't one be assessed on basis of the intelligence? Why the memorizing and racking of brains??? Moreover, why select syllabi that cannot develop love for the subject? Why can't geography be made so interesting that one cares and is enthralled to go on the net to research more on what s/he has learned? Why don't I come home and explore the soils and rocks I learned about? Why am I not excited enough, that I actually take rock and soil samples to the school? Why do I feel sleepy in the geography, or for that matter any period? Why do I say geography is boring or I don't like or it; when I do it in a different manner it interests me. I ask questions. I am curious to know why a particular area cannot be used for agriculture. I research on coal mining and carbon dating. However, I don't use the textbook.
              Wow!!! I've got the reason why it has begun interesting me!! The textbooks limits one to learn only what a really qualified (hope so!) person thought, should be learnt by the students. The internet and YouTube is abound with videos related to geography. There are 3d videos and also interviews of archaeologists…all it takes is a click and all the knowledge is at my fingertips!
         The questions, that were found to be important by them. Also, at times the content is very repetitive. Until grade ten, each geography textbook has rotation, revolution, solstices, equinoxes; telling the same thing over and over again!!!
Mostly, I wouldn't read the entire chapter. I would know only what those 5 questions wanted me to. I definitely would know the hazards involved in coal mining with examples of disasters in coal mines which took place a hundred years ago. The development in technology, alternative and better security would've definitely taken place. Maybe not! Links are given behind textbook but does anyone refer them to students? Do the students even know that the publishers and authors have very intelligently included the links. Moreover, there are a number of sites and pages that have lots of information. 
       In the 21st century, knowing to search for a site on a particular topic and having a high speed internet connection is enough to make a person mentally and LITERALLY, intelligent and well read. 
      So, all my archaeologists and geologists, I suggest you'll have to 
be least a radius of fifty meters from any kind of secondary geography textbooks and digests...Unless you want a change in career...!!!


                 Welcome to our boring glorious past...!!!      
     Yes, we really do have a glorious past. History…The subject that studies our past! No doubt, I love it the most, at least comparing it to the subjects, existing in the schooling system! 

    My love for history, when I was a part of the school, had been confined to my memory. I could memorize long answers and got nearing full in each history test. It was only when I realized that history was not just about by-hearting answers. It was a subject that had to be questioned, to know, how people existed in the past. How did we, the WE that we are today evolve? What steps were involved in getting to the level of intelligence and technological development, we are at today? How did people exist in times when none of these wonderful devices were made? History also tells much about the social life of our forefathers, the amount of pride, dignity and patriotism-love-for-motherland, people lived with is absolutely unbelievable.
          A standard 21st century student in the grade 7 learns or rather ratta maars* an answer about a leader’s power, bravery or policies…No attempts are sincerely made in order to know WHY? HOW? WHEN? WHERE? I am sure at least, WHEN, would never be asked…DATES… the very reason why people hate history. When was tea discovered and when did it come into india? When was it accepted as a beverage? Today, tea is an integral part of breakfast, snack time or just as refreshing beverage!
             All of this, too is available on our fingertips in the form of documentaries and short videos!
        The Indian Railways are the largest employers in the world! However, the trains in India weren’t there always…they were brought to India by the British…
           When? Where did the first train that ever run in India?
         This is what history is about… Not just memorising brief answers! The patriotism that people, children and also animals lived with 400 years back cannot be inculcated in students, or anybody today! It ain’t required! But we definitely can be inspired, from the strength they displayed, the will power they had and the readiness to die for the nation…Of course, no one would want to die for the nation today (salute to the army men living a hard life on the border! Respect!); but the resilience they portrayed is can be definitely brought into people!
            We also learn from a lot many mistakes made by our ancestors. The ancient scholars living in the Indian society didn’t accept that there can also be someone as intelligent and aware as they were. Hence, they would never instil or exchange the knowledge with scholars and intellectuals of other countries. They missed out on the vast treasures of gyan. Today, there is continuously an exchange of opinions and research on social networking sites. The very reason, why development has taken place so quickly in the field of computers and technology over the past 40 years is this. People are ready to learn from each other. No one hesitates to ask questions. They accept answers from all- whether the person who answered was of any caste, creed, race, country, or continent! Even if, there are different attitudes and estimations, the one that gets maximum likes is what I shall choose…!!!
                   History teaches, we learn only when we question! The questions given in textbooks are only made for the purpose of tests and assessments…the question maybe:
      Q.Explain the economic life during Harrapan period?
     Ans:       Really good to know they knew ship-building and also traded with other civilizations. The dock at Lothal is really amazing and shows their architectural brilliance.
           What more does it require? Just because the answer is supposed to be 80-100 words, I need to write more. It may mean the same, but just elongated…but if I question, how did the people know about ship-building? What happened at Mohen-jodaro? Their architectural brilliance is respected and inspiring, but how did they learn all of this???

             So, I question, decompress, unlearn…

WHY should I be a part of a system which is killing my love for a subject that tells us about so much… the past is like nearly a 3 million years!!! CAN just five different history books tell history? DOES history have to be a rigmarole of evaluations-disappointment not because  a brave man died a sad death, fighting for his nation, and 13000 women jumped into a fire to save their self-respect; but because I wrote the spelling of the man who died and the 13000 women as 12000… for which the teacher cut 2 marks!
No! No! No! Then why? Why a system of schooling, where history is only MUGGED, but not questioned…?
From The Same Series...
Do We need This Nightmare???
                                            Suffered by Shahen Pardiwala

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