Sunday, December 25, 2011

Is passing an examination enough?

IT WAS an interesting debate. The theme was what the ideal pass percentage for an examination needed to be? Should it be 40 per cent, 35 per cent or 33 per cent? I was waiting calmly for the varied responses. Finally I commented: "I just wonder whether I should accept 60 per cent of incompetence, 65 per cent or 67 per cent? I just don't know what are we trying to acknowledge?"

It is important to understand that the objective of a learning process is to acquire the relevant knowledge, competence and skills; not merely pass an examination on a specified rating scale.

Schools should focus on developing the necessary learning skills and facilitate the joyful pursuit of learning, rather than focusing on the requirements of the year-end examination.

Albert Einstein observed: "Education is what remains when one has forgotten what one has learned in the school." The process of learning is more important than the mere content learnt.

How do we collect information, how do we sift information, how do we enable information to become knowledge, how do we process knowledge for useful applications, how much of information or knowledge we store, how do we use knowledge as a life skill or a vocational skill? These are more important than merely remembering and recalling information and reproducing it at a given point of time.

For example, when one studies a travelogue it offers a lot of opportunities for understanding the socio-cultural environment of a place, its geographical assets, its economic prerogatives and the human relations. History helps us to evaluate events objectively in the relevant context and understand the social dynamics as well as human effort for survival and progress.

Literature and poetry offers an insight into human emotions, man's relationship with the inner and external nature, his urge to communicate and express; the diversity of human thoughts, the power of language and the power and fertility of imagination.

Science offers a powerful trigger to creativity and enables a learner to approach problems with an inquisitive and inquiring mind. It encourages logical thinking, problem solving and rational approach to analysis of information. Skills of observation, skills of organisation, and skills of coordination are empowered through the study of sciences. Each discipline of learning, be it art, sport or graphics helps in developing aptitudes towards the diversity of nature and human existence. Education has to help in celebrating this diversity.

The objective of learning, therefore, should address the expansion of human knowledge and skills. Reading habits take a prime place in the process of knowledge exploration.

While reading novels, stories and comics do help in acquisition of various learning inputs, it is important to take to some serious reading. Classical literature has a great role to play in shaping human thoughts and the process of inquiry. It also helps in understanding the relevance of values in human life systems and positioning them appropriately in one's life.

The process of education is not a mere process of acquisition of information, its reproduction and "passing" an examination. No doubt, examinations facilitate evaluation of the learning process to show where we are on a learning curve; however it must be understood that it is not the sole aim of education.

Education is a process of pursuit of excellence in whatever discipline we pursue. It should help us to acquire mastery in any discipline. Remember the words of Oscar Wilde: "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

G. Balasubramanian | tabla! | Fri Dec 16 2011

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