Working It Out: Did the education system fail us?

Teenage girl of Indian ethnicity wearing school uniform writing english alphabet on chalkboard.

“If something does not work, we must work on it.” Humans accept systems and institutions as they are. But, is that the right thing to do? An anecdote reshaped my feelings about life, and it will surely make you see things in a different light.

I remember I was a fairly good student in the subject of Mathematics. I am still good with numbers, but those days, I was on a different level altogether. Probability, trigonometry, geometry, calculus — it was all a cake walk for me. During one of my examinations, I remember spending way too much time trying to solve a particular problem. It was a Mathematics question paper that we were supposed to finish in three hours, but I got stuck on one of the problems for over 30 minutes.

I told the teacher present in the classroom that something was not right about the problem and he asked me to focus on my answer instead of finding faults with the question. I almost started to doubt my ability. After about 40 minutes, an external invigilator walked into the classroom and said that there was an error in that particular question. He asked us to manually change one of the values. I was furious because I could not complete a few questions towards the end of the question paper.

But, what the incident taught me has been extremely valuable in life. The insight was primarily in the form of four questions. What if the question paper has an error? What if the teachers do not know what is wrong about the system? What if I am doubting my intelligence based on an erroneous question paper set by someone else? And what if the correction will happen in due course of time or maybe it will never happen at all?

Standardization is no longer the answer

Public schooling system was started in the age of industrial revolution about hundred to hundred and fifty years ago. Big industrialists like the Edisons, Gettys and the Fords needed people to work in their assembly lines of production. The industry did not matter. What mattered was for people to be capable of performing a certain kind of repetitive task. The industrial systems that were capable of employing millions of people are now getting automated and it is becoming difficult to absorb so much standardized talent for organizations. The future belongs to the country with an education system that can be customized for both, the employers as well as the students.