What do you care what other people think ?

A few days back, Kushal had posted some thoughts about newbies on IRC and especially related to the way they go about their business. He wrapped his comments into an audio file.

Today, I read Swaroop's blog about providing 'coding' training.

So, here’s the bottom-line – the education system as it is in place in India is flawed. Not only from the perspective of content or focus, but from a deeper core objective of what it is supposed to do. This isn’t a rant. I’ve studied all my life in this system and so have a number of others. And post my studies, the more I come in contact with the current crop of students – it provides empirical evidence that things aren’t so good.

The basic problem with Indian Education is the lack of emphasis to build up the fundamentals of science and mathematics. That isn’t an implied statement that the arts and literature are subject unworthy of attention. However, the lack of an organized methodology to teach building blocks of mathematics and science is a serious issue. When I say building blocks – it means teaching science and mathematics in a form that elaborates the concepts and gets the students to think. ‘How to think’ is becoming an extinct art form and that is another cause for worry.

How does a lack of ‘how to think’ skills impact students ? Dramatically. An admittedly small cross section of students from institutes of various reputations, that I talk with, seem to have internalized the notion of ‘read what is in the book, and don’t think beyond since the questions aren’t asking you to’. So, here’s another twist – the pattern of examinations is out-of-date and lacks a context. Lack of basic mathematical ability or, the conceptual grasp of mathematics generally translates into weak knowledge of anything that has to do with data manipulation. Thus, anything from the realms of mathematics, physics, chemistry ie the sciences to engineering in its various forms are affected.

Add to that the perception of the parents about this entire journey through the education system as a ‘rat race’ where the successful rat wins a cushy job with mind boggling payouts. So, the intrinsic curious nature of a child is soon transformed into a mindlessly numbing game of ‘go with the flow’ and ‘be like your better peers’. The ones who stop to think, be different are either nerds or, social misfits. And, I am not being overtly dramatic over here.

The entire concept of ‘what do you care what other people think’ which would allow the mind to wonder, poke around and learn from first principles isn’t aided by the system of education. And, there is the root cause of the crumbling. A rule of thumb guess as to what is happening due to this can be comprehended by the decreasing number of enrollments each year for the pure sciences and even applied sciences while studies that have anything remotely computer science-y have overflow of candidates. For all the high sounding words of ‘education not being there to serve industry demands’, that is precisely what is happening.

The main idea about education that it isn’t about the text, but about the context is what I see missing. I see and meet stellar candidates with high marks, but a chilling lack of grasp of concept. And, more scary is the fact that they have no notion of what they don’t have. Since around them there isn’t a group of folks telling them as to what can be or should be done during their formative years of learning.

I don’t have a solution for this disease. What I have is reams of stories which, over the years, make me more depressed – why do we do this to our kids ? Why can’t we teach them about not caring about what other people think and being themselves ? What does it take for us to attempt a leap of faith and make our next generation far better than what we are ?

Of strikes and ignorance

There’s an AAI strike on today. So, 2 days back I read off Anandabazar Patrika that the CITU state secretary wasn’t aware that preventing ATCs from attending to duties might lead to air traffic that passes over Kolkata going haywire.

Come on now. Which century are the leaders staying in ? Do they really think that the international air traffic that is ‘fly-by’ doesn’t require ATC intervention ? Bollocks.

“You Are Here” by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

Point 0: It should have been on goodreads thus sparing me the task of adding it manually.

Point 1: I haven’t read Compulsive Confessor but there are places where the book seems to be a long blogpost. Thankfully, those are small spaces.

Point 2: It is a breezy read. I guess that’s what it is supposed to be. It is reasonably priced. Come on now – it is sub 200 INR and thus doesn’t fall into a ‘this is a boring tome that’s going to be good as a door stopper’ category

Point 3: The chapter headings look and read like my copy of Around The World in 80 Days 🙂 I guess that’s just a curious co-incidence

Point 4: I’d wait for the next book.

The experience that is a ‘sale’

Since we had nothing better to do post a delicious lunch (of Khichdi and Pomfret Fry), we went for a stroll around our usual haunt of MG Road.

All the places have this “End of Season Sale – Huge Discounts” banner strung which did prompt the question about which particular season is ending. The only thing we could come up with was that Ganesh Festival is around the corner. Anyways, ‘sale’ season should be the one when Paco Underhill’s Envirosell group should visit various Indian cities. I don’t know much about ‘sale’ in the land of the brave, but I’m sure that there’s more to the sub culture here.

‘Sale’ crowd is a tribe and they have their own cult. There are rules to this game. Particularly, you need to be forming packs. One person would hold the cell phone, the other your bag(s), a few more would be holding a set of clothes you would like to try and there would be that ‘special’ someone who would provide a critical appraisal of the new dress. Without these, it ain’t gonna be a good experience. And oh ! you need elbows – lots of those elbows.

Then of course there’s the adrenaline rush. I saw a person picking up an orange jersey (the rich orange would actually get the coast-guard take a re-look at their safety dresses) just because there was a 1+2 free. The burning question of course is that how much sales do the non-clothes counters do during ‘sale’ season. There’s far too many people to indulge in the subtle over-selling of cosmetics or perfume. The watches counters looked deserted – the boys and girls never did walk over to look at it.

Online bookstore prices and …

Off IndiaPlaza:

What Would Buddha Do Rs. 203.06 – Qty – 1
Wealth Of Nations Rs. 169.16 – Qty – 1
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich Rs. 259.37 – Qty – 1
Sub Total : 631.59 Shipping Charges : 45.00 Discount Amount : 210.54

Off Flipkart:

What Would Buddha Do At Work? Rs. 175×1 Rs. 175
The Wealth Of Nations Rs. 213×1 Rs. 213
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich Rs. 280×1 Rs. 280
Total Amount: 668

Why do the multiplexes get it wrong ?

In most multiplexes, the show timings are at the very bottom of a board which would have the poster of the currently-on ‘main draw’. Now, why put it down ? Since the board isn’t any taller than ~5 feet, one has to look down and make out the timings. Add to it the boors who need to stand with their knees nearly touching the board to arrive at a decision on which movie to go to, it is a difficult thing to do.

Multiplexes need viewers through their ticket aisles and into the seats. The timings should be up at near eye level.