Entering the academic sector is like entering a channel that has holes cut out every few inches through where unfavourable opinions and temptations flood in, having irreversibly contaminated the sector over the years. The Bollywood idea of studies and academics being the opposite of ‘life’ has imprinted itself in the minds of students and irrational ideas like ‘a piece of (exam) paper does not determine my future’ are their escapade. It’s an impossible task for teachers to convince a large part of the student population that formal education is way more than what Bollywood and stories propagating ‘more happening lives’ have instilled in their minds.
Perhaps it is acceptable that a major part of what is taught in formal education is not applicable knowledge in its originally presented form. Indeed, one answer sheet by itself does not decide the future of a student. A lot of back benchers manage to secure better lives for themselves than toppers when they prove to be skilled in something else other than academics. We have plenty of successful people who have been college drop-outs. But do these points infer that formal education is completely flawed and is of no use? Why has the system been sustained so far in that case?
The fundamental idea of the current form of formal education, as far as I understand it, has more to do with self discipline than it does with understanding text book lessons. The original purpose behind conducting examinations cannot have been the idea of the highest scorer being the brightest, but that of inculcating the self discipline it takes to score those marks. The process of listening, comprehending and presenting content prescribed and perhaps being motivated to conduct further research is the idea behind formal education. Students capable of such things can be capable of anything else because that’s all it takes to master any skill. As far as I can see it, formal education enables a student to be capable of acquiring and mastering any skill he/she might be interested in. It transfers the knowledge that is currently in possession and ensures that it expands through inquisitiveness incorporated in young minds. Examinations and class presentations are a natural and simple by-product of this process of massive importance. A student capable of excelling in those is disciplined enough to excel anywhere.
The race for marks has been a source of great pressure for a lot of students and has pushed them to depression and even suicide, yes. The complete misunderstanding of the idea behind formal education is the cause for this; and not the system by itself. Formal education is the best ever model that can inculcate self discipline in students from an early age. It is advisable that it be pursued for the same purpose and not be regarded as the racetrack for marks, for that’s what has led entertainment institutions to make a mockery of this system. Brutal jokes about strict teachers, undermining the academic genius in the country, ‘nerd’ labelling of brilliant students, assumptions that academically excellent students lead dull lives and so on are the results of this very misinterpretation. It’s not about the marks alright, but formal education is about the self discipline it takes to score those marks. For a student capable of disciplining oneself to excel academically, exams are hardly a challenge or a bore. Such answer sheets represent the promising personality of the student, which does very well determine his/her entire life.