Final Exams : Because No One Deserves To Be Happy

Day 6
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This picture has been shared around a lot on Facebook. But from what I saw over the last week, I’ve realized that this is a gross misconception. The actual last five minutes (or the last thirty, in my case) were spent thusly:

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I even tried asking one of the invigilators what was causing my fellow classmates to make such obvious physical effort in filling out the answers, while I was counting the number of fans on the ceiling. Perhaps there was some kind of a secret puzzle that had to be cracked in order to reveal another question or something. On the first day, I even tried putting all the letters of each line together to see if that would lead me somewhere, only to get “EDSHUI SSATPP MPPW”. How intriguing. It actually didn’t sound a whole lot different than the actual question they had asked, like “What is GQMWP?”

I finally decided that the most effective way to spend all my free time would be to take a quick nap. You’d understand my astonishment when everyone came out of the examination hall and told me that there was no time to finish writing everything they wanted to.

The way I see it, there are two possible explanations here. Either I’m selectively blind to some kind of invisible ink that they use to print the back of the question paper, or I’m just plain dumb. I’m not too sure about the invisible ink.

Anyway, that was a week ago, and then we went on to watch this random B-graded Hindi movie. After a week of not sleeping, you don’t usually care much for such things as quality when you select a movie. Plus, after this ordeal, my mind wanted something titillating.
But unfortunately for me, the one we went to watch got me worked up all the more. Rather than having actresses dance in the rain amidst a jungle, or censored impromptu sex scenes peppered adequately with flashes of cleavage, this one had some strong advice for the audience, delivered in typical Tamil-movie-style ; advice that no fresh-out-of-the-exam-hall college student wants to hear. Advice on the importance of education and studying hard.

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The Fault In Our Syllabus : How School Textbooks Give No Space For Individual Growth

Culture is the best contraception.

As absurd as it may sound to the regular, level headed logical reader here, it is a popular opinion throughout India. And it matters what people think when one of those people is our own Health Minister. Recently, Dr. Harsh Vardhan went as far as to suggest that faithfulness to one’s partner was the only sure shot way of preventing AIDS- an underlining of culture and morality clearly influencing his statements. So when it comes to including sex education in textbooks, one can imagine what that would consist of. Bird and bees, or a stork by the riverside if we are lucky.

This is just one example, brought into attention by a remark which had sparked a lot of controversy. The truth is, the standard textbooks used by the CBSE, ICSE, ISC or any other board are well structured and carefully planned with proper snippets of information on the side, enriching cartoons and footnotes, but in reality, they allow little or no space for individual opinions to be formulated.

Photo Credit

Right in the very first few pages of most of these books, after the contents, there is an elaborate and tabulated marking scheme, which dictates how many classes a teacher should spend on each topic, how many marks should be allotted to each topic, inadvertently dictating if ‘Consumer Right’ is more important or ‘Democracy’. In this scenario, where a student is given tools to do the bare minimum, there is hardly any attempt for any extra outside reading or out of the box thinking.

Any student who has grown up in a typical Indian education environment can relate that certain subjects like mathematics and the sciences have always been given more importance. The extra‘tuitions’ are mostly for the sciences. Thus originates the timeless inclination of parents for their children to end up as a doctor or an engineer, or perhaps a lawyer or a journalist if they fail.

The fallacies in the material taught can be found in every page if one looks for it. For example, in a class 7th NCERT textbook, the first chapter is about equal rights, with examples from the universal adult franchise. However, it fails to make students understand that without financial equality, political equality means little to the underprivileged sections. It would be some time before the one-track educated student realizes the right of equality before the judiciary is full of loopholes, rendering them uninterested to the whole concept in the long run.

Studying Literature in CBSE Schools

One of the most commonly voiced grievances regarding this is the lack of literary classics from the English syllabus. While CBSE contents itself with certain short stories and poems and an occasional story by an author these students do recognize from the bestseller stands, the fact remains that our perception of someone being good in literature rests on how many big words a student uses or how he/she answers questions with no perspective at all. They are maybe not told in the exact words, but it is thoroughly implied to all students in their years of schooling that, even though the question asks, what you feel about this or that, they aren’t really asking for your opinion. On multiple occasions, I myself have gone with my red marked answers to the teacher, only to be sent back after being told that my opinion here actually means the author’s/teacher’s opinion.

The complete and utter ignorance of studying literature in the form of books and understanding them in depth is one of the main fallbacks. To this date, students of CBSE wishing to pursue literature can answer the entrance exam questions from To Kill a Mockingbird only if they have read and analyzed it themselves or with some external paid help.

Little Scope for Individual Development

With the 2014 elections, an era of established orthodoxy of the HRD ministry has come to an end with a non-graduate minister in the chair. While we have gotten past a lot of old rules and the textbooks are now more open to the sensitive incidences like the Emergency, the fact remains that there is little scope for individual development of each and every student who is unique in his or her own way.

For someone who has studied in a CBSE board school for the most part of his life, an irksome factor is the heavy display of patriotism and Godly references. Patriotism is perfectly acceptable and deemed desirable in textbooks, blind patriotism is not. With freedom fighters and nation leaders being shown in an almost God-like light, no wonder huge masses of people in our nation equate following a politician like following a religion even now.

Lastly, the problem of being lost in translation still exists in every rural area. Lack of proper training of the teachers once the new syllabus is out, or even the unwillingness to teach whatever may be beyond them results in those children learning everything in a lopsided, half correct way.

The Budget this year has proved promising in the education sector, with the arrangements being made for proper sanitation and hygiene which would enable girl students to remain in school, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Andolan, a more gender sensitive syllabus. But unless mainstream syllabuses aren’t contemporized, all these new measures would serve little to the target masses and in the end just fall back in regular, criticized lines like the current syllabus. It’s time to step back and see things from a new perspective now, because what we read and write today will make us what we are tomorrow.

Prepare for Finals The Indie Guy Way!

Want to really study for finals but struggling to part ways with your computer? Want to make your parents proud but finding it impossible to stop daydreaming about your special one? Well, here are a few pointers that’ll get you started. Well, just one advice – Never Be Here Before Exams!

  • Forget it, don’t study ( just kidding ) 
  • Make peace with the fact that you’ll really have to study and there is no way around. Mediate on it. Something like this takes serious contemplation for comprehension.
  • Reflect on how amazing the words “contemplation” and “comprehension” are when used in succession.
  • Gather all materials you’ll need to study. This includes but is not limited to: textbooks, workbooks, novels, dictionaries, perhaps a Bible, all past notes, quizzes, tests, projects, essays, reports, handouts, reading guides, cross references – basically everything in your locker, everything in your backpack, and everything except for that one piece of paper with the single piece of information that will inevitably compose 75% of your exam but you just don’t know it yet.
  • Situate yourself in a quiet place that’s free of distractions.
  • Open your textbook.
  • Turn off the TV and all the distractions that inexplicably appeared in the room you’ve chosen.
  • Flip to the first chapter you covered in the semester.
  • Turn the TV back on – it’s Dancing with the Stars night and you never miss this.
  • Read the first page of indicated chapter.
  • Reread that page because let’s face it. You weren’t paying attention to a single word.
  • Busy yourself by highlighting the entire page. This is definitely the important part.
  • Take a well-deserved break and raid your pantry, cupboard, and refrigerator. Come back in half an hour.
  • Tell yourself that you really have to study now.
  • Turn off the TV once a commercial comes on so you aren’t tempted.
  • Read over your first page of notes. Underline the words that look important. Open your textbook again.
  • Stare at the page for a little bit. This will transfer the information waves from the surface of the book directly to your brain, obviously. :P
  • Experiment with various positions on the couch. Decide on the one that is definitely the least comfortable.
  • Wiggle around in that position until you’ve been studying for thirty minutes and learned absolutely nothing. Open your notebook again.
  • Discover what an incredible talent you suddenly have for art, and express your creativity all over that page.
  • Erase, erase, erase before someone glances at your notes and realizes you’ve been screwing around.
  • Now open and read the second chapter.
  • Stop after reading a page. Acknowledge that you understood nothing, again. Face the fact that while you were busy not studying, the test has come upon you’re a lot faster than you realized. In fact, it’s tomorrow.
  • Reread the first chapter for the four hundredth time, because that’s as far as you get every night and some things just don’t change.
  • Scan your notes for anything that looks easy to remember.
  • Text six people and post three Facebook statuses about how much studying stresses you out.
  • Read the next chapter all while thinking, “how much of this could he possibly put on the test?”
  • Absorb the font, degree of boldness and Italicism, and quality of photographs.
  • Highlight the words with the most letters.
  • Eat dinner. Eat dessert. Shower. Wash your hair. Rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat. Brush your teeth really well. Make your bed and unmake it. Clean your room for the first time in six months. Discover new items and tinker with them.
  • Take a twenty minute power nap until your mom enters your pitch black room and suspects the worst. Become defensive when a parent asks why you’re not studying. Remind them that you’ve been going at this for four hours. Assure them that yes, you really have been learning and you’ve gotten everything under control.
  • Close the door behind said parent as he/she leaves.
  • Proceed to panic. Stare the living mess out of that second chapter.
  • Relieve your headache by turning on the TV and breaking open a bag of chips. Your textbook is still open, so it’s okay.
  • Become fed up with the system, everything on TV and everything you’re supposed to be studying.
  • Decide that you need a change of scenery. Surround yourself with books on your bedroom floor.
  • Snatch up your cat/dog/bunny/fish and develop a new found fascination with your pet. Establish a relationship. Come up with new nicknames. Search for fleas.
  • Abandon said pet once it’s three AM and all hope is officially lost.
  • Take a step back. Admit defeat. Accept that your fate is failure.
  • Cry yourself to sleep.

Here’s my jibe at preparing for the finals. And I cant wait to hear yours! Share what you’d like to add to the list by commenting below. And well if you liked what I wrote, don’t just sit in front of the computer smiling, but share it on your social media. After all, sharing is caring!