The transition from school to college is more of a time of change than any other, but some things end up staying the same.
When looking at someone who is just leaving school and another someone who is already in college, the difference in age might just be a year, but the difference in the hopes, dreams, and everything else in between looks like one that might exist between two widely different people. Your classmates from school would rarely know this confident, pumped-up, college version of you, but the one thing that they would relate to are your ever-lasting rants, more importantly, your rants on our never-changing education system.
In conversation with Trisha Saxena, a 12th grader pursuing commerce without maths, and Rubani Sandhu, a first-year student from LSR, we find places where these two conversations converge at a single point and places where the conversations could not be farther away— a proper representation of your school-to-college transition, if you will.
Even though a lot of us go into college expecting it to be more freeing than school— that new sense of being an adult, of being away from home, and of being free with your own ideas and thoughts, none of us are really able to actually fathom the intensity if the difference that is brought into our lives with this transition. Being not so much about the academics and the non-academics, the college makes you want to crawl back to school sometimes, for school was so free of so much of this burden of responsibilities. But school can also never be what college is— that one place where you can be anything (yes, college is Zootopia).
Indian Education: Practical education?
The one question that strikes a chord, regardless of what you are studying and where you are studying— how practical is Indian education? There are some things that continue to haunt you for the rest of your life, and frankly, this is one of them.
“I see my batchmates struggling with integration, differentiation, calculus and not all of them want to be mathematicians. I studied maths up until 10th grade and I can promise you I am never going to use Pythagoras Theorem in my real life. Why do we have to calculate square roots by hand when everyone has a calculator in the real world? If you want to teach us something, teach us about our finances, teach us real life skills— how to cook, how to open a bank account— things that will help us in the long run,” Trisha continues, speaking out for every kid who barely passed in maths, calculating useless stuff we could have very easily found out answers to using a calculator.
“I mean I sympathise with the fact that school makes us study a lot of things and frankly, a lot of subjects that might just turn out to be useless, but that is one area where college gets better. You get a choice. The education might still be largely impractical and rote-learning might still be the building block of every course syllabus, but atleast you get a choice in what you end up learning (even if it ratta).” says Rubani, giving her perspective on the college life.
College does end up giving us a lot of autonomy, in terms of it literally being about the subjects WE want to talk about (lord help the BAP kids studying non-discipline courses against their will), but wasn’t that what classes 11th and 12th offered us too? How much of a difference did it make? We just found new subjects to hate, and new classes to bunk, because at the end of the day, it is only the book we are going to be following, so what’s the point?
CUET and NEP— can they make things different?
“Atleast the government is taking some kind of initiative with CUET and NEP… But this is also a two-sided sword. A lot of my batchmates, including me, are now thinking that when we have to give CUET to get into colleges, then why do even have to give boards? What is the point? Why not just bunk the boards and spend our time preparing for CUET?” continues Trisha.
On the other hand, Rubani gives her opinion, “I think yes, it is not going to make a very drastic change in the way education takes place in India, but it is a step towards creating a single platform for all the students to be judged upon, regardless of their backgrounds or their boards. Obviously, this means that there is going to be a change in the way admissions take place in colleges and I think that is going to make a significant difference,”
Two very different perspectives, but both of them perspectives that are not ill-placed. Maybe CUET and NEP are a step in the right direction, maybe it all going to fall on our faces, but isn’t it too early to call the end result, placing bets when the coin hasn’t even been tossed yet?
Is the Indian education system flawed?
“On a scale of 1 to 10? A solid 8.79… there is an immense focus on memorising and the teachers don’t want us to go beyond the scope of the NCERT. In all the boards in India, there are some key points that the examiners want and if you do not write them, you won’t get marks. But what if I have understood the concept and I just don’t remember that one big fancy word that you use in your textbook, does that mean I am dumb?” says Trisha.
“I don’t think the answer to this question really changes when we move from school to college. The education was and is flawed, and there is no way around that. However, much we try to incorporate projects and assignments, all of them still end up falling in that same narrow scope and we are still shunned for asking questions that might stretch beyond the prescribed reading,” adds Rubani.
So, does it really make a change— that move from school to college? College does give us a lot of practical skills, it does make us learn things like budgeting and saving, that we wouldn’t have learnt before, but then this isn’t a feat of the education system. We might be blaming the education system for more than what is due, but isn’t education that one place where we expected things to be different? Isn’t education the place where we are supposed to be free to ask questions in? Isn’t education that one thing that is supposed to uplift us and allow us to become better than becoming a shackle in our leg and a leash on our throat?