Sorry State of Affairs

I chanced upon a CBSE Social Studies textbook for Class VIII yesterday while my wife was preparing teaching notes for the kids at school. Observations from that exercise:

If the syllabus in a text book is a reflection of our academic system, CBSE has been successful in shocking me. I am dismayed at the extremely superficial nature of what is being taught in schools. While there are arguments that the all studies up to Class 10 need only be superficial, I fail to understand the logic behind it.. Most of the time, the school years are spent studying, not learning. In retrospect, I feel that even if kids are just studying (and not learning!), it remains with you the rest of your life. Proof of the pudding was that, I was able to explain to my wife the background of the Mughal empire, the key distinguishing features of most of the rulers and their contributions in detail. All this, from my memory. A little bit of googling around confirmed that I was bang on!

Textbooks are supposed to provide you with information that is not just relevant, but gives you a wholesome and comprehensive picture of the subject being learnt. So when you are learning history, it is absolutely necessary to know the socio political and economic set up of the region. Without this basic understanding, how can you ever try to draw a picture in your mind about the bye- gone era? I fail to understand.

Consider statements like these:

1. Akbar was the greatest Mughal ruler. His reign can be divided into three phases – initial years, the coterie period and the glorious years.. and there is not much being mentioned on why each period is unique from one another. Also there is absolutely no mention of him being the first ever Mughal ruler to have abolished Jaziya and bring in the concept of religious and communal harmony.. Pathetic!

2. There is a chapter which introduces the concept of God. What’s surprising is that it starts straight away with the Hindu concepts of Trinity.. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. Absolutely no mention of why and how the concept of God or religion ever came into existence. I also fail to understand why the chapter looks at religion from a Hindu perpective. Im sure there are many kids who do not follow hindusim as a religion in schools!

Teaching Methodology:

Why is it that our system has degraded to an extent that teachers are forced to read the text and explain the meaning verbatim? Absolutely unscientific way of imparting knowledge. Eighth graders are perfectly in a position to read and understand what’s printed in a text book- especially social sciences. So what value does the teacher add when he/she is reading and explaining verbatim? None! The teacher is supposed to be a master of the subject and introduce to kids much more than what is in there in the text book.. I strongly believe that text books should not be end point of learning. With internet over powering our lives, it makes life so much more easy for the teachers to do a bit of research and provide additional and interesting info to kids..

I really don’t know where we are going. I really don’t know what ails our education system. But I know that it’s not on the right track. Guess this is what happens when the people at the top of the pyramid have no clue on what is required.


Durga said…
True. Where are we heading? But who cares for all these? Most of the people don't have any penchant for History.

Some funny yet shocking thing happened when I was in Kerala. INdira Gandhi is 'placed' among freedom fighters.On this year's Independence day, I heard a speech in the nearby Convent school, where the school head girl quoted Indira Gandhi's name along with real freedom fighters!
Durga said…
Teaching standards are really pathetic.Most of the teachers choose the teaching profession as a matter of convenience.Teaching is one of the most challenging profession. A teacher has to update himself/herself regularly about the latest happenings. But in practice, none of the teachers are inclined to do so.What they do is follow some guide or texts, and gives instructions to the students like "Take down notes"!
Durga said…
BTW, What happened to your gym visits? Continuing or left? :P
Jeevez said…
Hi Durga..

i gym with the same enthusiasm as earlier..
Apoorva said…
Hi Jeevez,

btw, my son is also studying in VIII class. We are in Delhi. And u know something, my son is studying in a good public school, and I have to teach my son social studies because the teacher just reads out whatever is wrtiten in the book, that's it. No discussion, no understanding, nothing. so I well understand what u r saying.

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