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On our kids ! June 7, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in America, humor, image, india.

Links for you, if you are a parent or plan to be one, one day. ( Okay, before that “our kids” in the title refers to the current generation of kids ( wherever they are ), not my kids which number exactly zero. )

1. What kind of a world do our kids grow up in ? Headmaster of the Doon School, Kanthi Bajpai has an excellent article that asks, albeit indirectly, just that. I will let you read through the entire article here.

What is that big deal about 0.5 % points – competitive as the world becomes, its tending to matter. I don’t certainly like the way things are but then thinking about that Class XII kid who in addition to likely being already marginalized by the quota system, now must get that extra 0.5 points to make it to a top 10 school. The problem – of all that excessive stress on marks – as he points out is a consequence of scarcity in Indian education infrastructure. So nothing new about most of what he says, but powerfully expressed sentiments and worth a read.

Also its heartening to know he concurs ( with my long held view ) when he says :

We think that Indian schools are world-class institutions in the making, that our science and mathematics are the envy of others, and that Indian students are smarter and harder working than anyone else. None of this is true. Indian schools are in a shambles; our science and mathematics teaching are appalling; and our students, while intelligent and diligent, are of the same genetic material as other human beings and, given the burden of our curriculum, are in danger of losing their creativity and energy by the time they “succeed” in school examinations.

2. Another must-read article – “Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard”. Beautifully written, I won’t say anything more – just read it 🙂

So its not just about scarcity as Kanthi talks about – even 1000 additional quality tech/med schools coming up in India may help ameliorate the current scarcity, but some will always be preferred to others. Average disatisfaction levels may fall, but we will still be talking about cut-throat competitions and narrow margins.

3. Megan and Raji, Student from US, teacher from Bangalore :

Ms. Suresh, has grown close with the Oylers. She frequently tells Megan she loves her and says Megan always replies, “I love you more.” But earlier in the spring, the Oylers began to worry about Ms. Suresh, who wakes up at 3:30 a.m. so the 12-year-old can do her homework after dinner in North Carolina — and works a full day after that. “I felt bad,” says Ms. Oyler.

When daylight savings time kicked in, Ms. Oyler decided that instead of making Raji get up even earlier to accommodate the new hours, Megan would start her homework an hour later, at 7 p.m., giving Raji some extra sleep. “That was very considerate,” says Ms. Suresh, who lives with her husband and two sons in a three-bedroom apartment in Chennai.

What technology and human enterprise enables ! ( Hat-tip : MR).

Then ofcourse there is this cool cartoon 🙂

4. This is an interesting question and an important one – recently a controversy in India as well. But this article is so damn long, I wonder if a shorter version exists somewhere. 😦



1. Manjunath - June 7, 2007

All articles made very good reading (couldnt complete the last article though …. )

It has been seven years since Karnataka State board removed rank system,… but news papers/TV channels will always hunt for toppers…..

2. Sharath Rao - June 7, 2007

man, u are one urself 😀 … certainly did not mean to offend u 😉

3. Randomizer - June 9, 2007

” We think that Indian schools are world-class institutions in the making, that our science and mathematics are the envy of others, and that Indian students are smarter and harder working than anyone else ”

In my personal experience – in comparison with US students, I definitely think Science/Math is at a higher level in India than US. India as well as China have much harder entrance exams than US/Britain. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/25/nmaths25.xml
is a report about UK vs China…

Now I’m not sure how much behind China we in India are, but I’m sure we are way ahead of UK at least by a cursory look at the questions in the report above.

As for dedication as well, Indian students really tend to ‘burn the midnight oil’ … since the competition is so fierce… Creativity of course suffers, but when the topic is Science/Math I think credit is due where it is deserved.

4. Sharath Rao - June 9, 2007

I have a whole lot to write on this one ..thats my next post.
@aswin :
For now I am going to link to this :
This report came out in Nov and now it looks like I saved a copy for debates like these 😉 .. (Actually not, I had sent this Prof. Ninan and hence had it on my website 🙂

Report has performance comparisons with students from 43 other countries ….

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