Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why We Don’t Have Nobel Laureates...

I read this small article in the Times Of India a few days ago titled ‘Life After IIT’ which stated that the IIT faculty have finally found out why they aren’t producing the Nobel laureates and innovators of the future. When asked by the faculty at the admission desk what their big dream was, most of the students gave the same answer “To get into IIT” only one guy answered that he dreamt of someday building a starship!

The first and most obvious reason for this lack in any kind of diversity in the answers is very simple, these students are pretty anxious about their admissions, hence any kind of ‘trick questions’ like the one asked by the IIT faculty tends to make the students cautious about their answers hence they end up sticking to ’safe options’ like the one given by the students in this case.

Another obvious reason that, I am sure, any under graduate who has given his viva (or oral question-answer tests as they are called in layman’s language) would tell you is the ‘Ape Syndrome’. It is a subtle process that can be described as such - when the first student comes out of the room (in which the viva is being conducted) all the students waiting eagerly outside grill him or her about what he/she was asked and how he answered it, in the end the other students end up answering similar questions in the same exact manner as that of the first guy or gal. I am sure that is exactly what has happened in the case of IIT students.

There may be several other reasons but I think the major one of ‘em is that parents and our primary education system fail to instill the creativity that is a essential quality to be an innovator. Children are born with an inherent sense of creativity; however the education system tends to suppress it and instead push the child into a dull world of rote-based learning, they even encourage the parents to do the same by labeling the child mediocre and forcing them to enroll their wards in tuitions or extra classes.

Our higher education system does nothing to help. Although, I must agree, that they support much better concept based learning, however this does nothing to enhance the practical problem solving ability and creativity of the student. Concepts are seldom accompanied by real life examples. Practical, real-life situations are not utilized in the curriculum which again limits the student to book based learning.

Now that this case has set the IIT faculty thinking I hope they do something about it!

I mean it’s time educationists understood that excelling at entrance exam makes the student a good learner and not exactly a great engineer, doctor or researcher. A student who performance is mediocre in the exams but possesses a vision and ability to work hard can also be equally eligible for the course.

So what these people should do now is look for an appropriate way to gauge a student’s creativity and vision along with his academic performance and then judge his eligibility for admission to the institute.


nishanth said...

Wow! Nicely written article. I'm an 3rd yr undergraduate IIT Bombay. I totally agree with what you said :) said...

great blog
loved it !!! said...

I also thnk the reason behind it is more importance all the importance is to theory and not practical :(

pawan said...

Good one mate!
I thought to write a post on this topic but I won't now as you wrote it, I'll just give your link! :D
Btw, are you an IIT'ian?