engineering-education
Planning, Public Issues, Strategy

IIT and AIEEE coaching classes – Villians or Necessary evils

Article by a Guest Strater – Ankur Singh.

In the 1st week of October, Mr. Narayan Murthy, one of the greatest visionaries of our times, said at a Pan-IIT conference that quality of IIT students is falling because of coaching classes. Few days later, Mr. Chetan Bhagat, a noted engineer-turned-novelist, remarked that Narayan Murthy could have been gentler in his comments. He even slammed Infosys as a “body shop” and said that one should look into the system and not criticize students.

Both of them had a point. The falling quality of IITians may indeed be true. Mr Murthy has been in industry for long and he may have observed that. However, putting the blame straight-away on coaching centres may not be right. The main criticism leveled against coaching centres is that they kill the innovation instincts of students. That coaching centres are actually producing dull students.
Let’s take a look at an alternate scenario. Suppose that there are no coaching centres. Everybody prepares for engineering entrance exams with help of the education provided by school. Now consider what is taught in the school and what is asked in the entrance exams. The concept may be the same but the difference comes in the level of practice provided by schools and the level that exams like IIT-JEE and AIEEE demand. Almost 99% of Indian schools worry about the result of class XII board exams. And here we see the reality. The board exams are so easy (at least those for Maths stream) that anybody who has studied Maths sincerely for 2 months may score 95+ marks. Do coaching centres kill the innovation instincts will always remain a debatable question but most of the students who both take coaching classes and pass entrance exams with good ranks are hard-working and well-versed in basics. They have a good background of Physics-Chemistry-Maths and are better prepared to take on the rigors of college academic system. So who is better, a 99% school topper with fragile concepts or a 90% percent scoring student with good knowledge-base of Maths and Science? The choice is not difficult to make.

Another keypoint is that Mr Murthy said that quality has been going down “OF LATE”. Now coaching centres have been there since 1980s. Hence, some recent phenomenon must have aided this downfall. And that could well be the unnecessary increase in quota for backward classes. I am not against helping the needy but one must understand there is no feedback mechanism in this quota system. Government passes the law for increasing the seats and then walks away. What they should actually do is to see if the students who got admission via quota are actually doing well or not. Analyse their performance in college, look at the jobs they have got or the research they have done. I, being an IITian and a placement student-head of an IIT, know that the results, as measured by these parameters, are grim. It clearly states that help must be given, but not as reserved seats in premier institutes but compulsory primary and secondary education.

This is where our government should rise from deep slumber. Rather than making blunders like increasing the quota or making the Class-12th exams easier and “stress-free”, the curriculum and the level of papers should be re-modelled. The logic is simple, if the Boards exams for science students are difficult enough, then they would not need any coaching preparation for entrance exams.

The fault lies in our education system. That’s why I mentioned in the beginning that Mr Bhagat had a point. As we don’t have a good-enough class 11-12th education level, coaching centres are actually doing this country a favor. I am not saying that they are a necessity but to make them redundant would require a considerable effort on the part of government and a sound thinking on the part of guardians, parents and students. I request all of you to express your views on this glaring educational issue of our time.

Notes from the Editor: This is an article contributed by Ankur Singh – A guest strater. Ankur works as a Strategy and Operations Analyst with Deloitte Consulting and studied at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi earlier. The article serves as an eye opener about the value added by Engineering Entrance Exam coaching centers in the Indian Education Ecosystem. We look forward to more insights from Ankur in the coming months. Also, the views expressed are author’s own and Strat.in neither supports or opposes them. Strat.in is a forum for thought provoking discussions and will continue to remain so.

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Public Issues, Web

Humans, Social media and Schadenfreude

Cross posted on Superchooha blog.

schadenfreude

When it comes to Human behavior enough is never enough.  One of the most  interesting traits of  human behaviour is situations we tend to find comfort and solace in. More then the situation its the conversation that happens that has a pacifying effect -but then conversation do not necessarily have to be relevant.  History has it that nothing is as pleasurable then watching your best friends fail at things – while I tend to disagree with that there have been cases where if not friends, but yes people have derived utmost pleasure from incidents absolutely irrelevant to them.

Welcome to whole a new world of human behavior – “Schadenfreude”

Here is a classic explanation of the german word – (More details here)

Schadenfreude — by Si Frumkin

Germans have a way with words. They created words that other languages simply do not have.

Schadenfreude takes 7 English words to define it: “malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others”. The dictionary explains it with a quote from historian Peter Gay — who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics; he said that it “can be one of the great joys of life.”

Now picture this – 50 Million tweets per day. 60 Million Status Updates on Facebook  PER DAY.  Clearly we live in a world where reviews are written before a movie release, debates are held on naming of a product, and kids are named before a couple even has sex.

On a serious note, we are surrounded by opinions –  Good,bad,neutral and extreme,soft, hard. Opinions of every kind.  Thanks to the ease that platforms like twitter and facebook have provided to voice one’s opinion. While these tools have enabled companies to interact with their end customers by tracking their views about their brand, there have been cases where these opinions have created lead to PR nightmares. The human tendency of replicating negative emotion more vehemently over the positive one is not unknown any more.

For instance the Cleartrip Kiruba Incident (Cleartrip’s  Stand and Kiruba’s Stand ) was a issue between a company and a normal customer but the fact that Kiruba’s single tweet reached 1000’s of timelines and was further retweeted n number of times required the CEO of the company Hrush to step in and explain every action over a blogpost. Amidst all this close to 40 twitter updates were made that literally crucified Cleartrip for no good reason.  For some reason people RTed Kiruba’s tweet, while some enjoyed the drama – Amidst all this Cleartrip was defamed. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing but what the heck- people RTed whatever little they knew about the acutal story. Damage beyond repair was done to Cleartrip.

Chetanblock -Another classic example where people drew pleasure from a conversation between Chetan Bhagat and Fly youfools. Consequences – #chetanblocks trended for almost a day on twitter. Some body went on the extent of buying a domain chetanblocks.com. What next – they now intend to make tshirts saying #chetanblocks. All this while hundred’s of people used the hashtag #chetanblocks and thousands of tweets were  exchanged with very few people actually understanding what happened.

While there a dozen other stories where brands have been crucified, people have started deriving sadistic pleasure out of this trend of defaming. I still believe that most of the people don’t actually read facts before they actually share a negative opinion, without actually understanding the consequences their actions might have. They just do it. And yes as a friend of mine puts it – Sadistic pleasure is better then the real version of pleasure. Welcome to the world, the world you live in surrounded by Schadenfreude

I am no expert at understanding the human psychology but then yes Humans are Humans and social media platforms are no exceptional places for them to behave differently.

The next time you retweet a negative thought or share one on FB, for a moment put yourself in the shoes of the brand manager of the brand and ask yourself – Is this what I actually signed up for – To give justifications to people who believe that their brand is bad.  Food for thought.

From my personal experiences on twitter and facebook

Vivek Khandelwal

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