30 August 2009

Problems with Indian Education System

My son goes for Abacus training in a school near our house in Bangalore.
Today I went to drop him for the class. In one of the class rooms in the school, a 'Civics' class for class X students was going on. This was a preparatory class for the first term class X exams which were due next week.
Remember Civics? It teaches you about Constitution of India, the fundamental rights, duties and such stuff. Used to be boring subject back in those days.
The things have not changed. It still remains a boring subject. Today I understood why.
Two of us (a lady and a gentleman (me of course!!) ) were sitting outside listening to a class going on.
(One thing about the class room. It was a very small room stuffed with students. It was overcrowed with students like MG Road on a busy week day)
The teacher drawled on in a monotonous pace.
" There are three lists in Indian Constitution. The central list, the provincial list and the concurrent list. The central list is purely the responsibility of the central government, the provincial list is the responsibility of the state government and the concurrent list is the joint responsibility. Blah, blah, blah...."
(It was very boring class. I could see the students taking in all of this very illuminating information. I could feel them instinctively understanding the differences between the three lists and getting a very clear idea of how the indian constitution works)
I am kidding. Of course Manju was building up courage to ask Smitha out to the movies and Smitha was probably drawing Manju's picture in her note book.
The point is the knowledge was definitely not being transferred in that class room.
I am thinking, "Maa'm, you are losing out on a wonderful opportunity to teach the children the difference between these lists. Why can't you have a role play where one of the students (Smitha) is the central government and (Manju) is the state government and ask them to discuss various scenarios. This way you can demonstrate the tensions between various lists and how our democracy works. For example, Centre can ask the state goverment as to what they are doing to control communal tension in Mangalore and state can say 'it is none of your business. Law and order is a state subject'. Centre can point out that ensuring communal harmony is a subject in the concurrent list. You can demonstrate how the list conflict with each other and at the same time maintains a delicate balance between various arms of the country.
You can also illustrate what happens if the things reach a boil and the authority of the central government to dismiss the state government. You can show the checks and balances in the system. You can ask students to collect news items where the different lists coordinate peacefully and other situations where they clash with each other. You can show different examples of the lists in action....
Maa'm, you could make this topic so interesting....."
Instead you go on as if you did not understand the topic that you are handling and making the students wish they were elsewhere....
Making the subject boring.
The more the things change, the more they remain the same.
Civics is very boring..... Still
(Once the class was over and the teacher came out, the lady sitting near me complimented the teacher on her excellent delivery of the subject.)