By Karthik Ramaswamy.
Every student has a time in life where he feels academically challenged – I myself was faced with that dilemma during the time I was applying to different Universities to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. There is a certain overflow as well as a lack of information one finds in today’s education system: It has become more of a business, and people fail to understand WHY learning and schools were invented in the first place. The essence of learning something lies in curiosity – if you are genuinely curious about a topic, there’s no way you can’t learn more about it. That curiosity is sometimes self-generated, but most of the time, needs to be inculcated – which is why learning about something is very different in comparison to doing well in an exam and scoring marks.
At the end of the day, both go hand in hand. Genuine interest fosters a hunger for knowledge, and later a desire to apply that knowledge – which is where exams come in – in places where you can test your understanding skills. And one has to agree; there is no better place to do that than the Internet.
I’m pretty sure many kids today are well acquainted with the net. I was nothing short of shocked when my 10 year old cousin came up to me and asked me about things i hadn’t even heard of before – which explains how much these kids really get out of digging around the internet. When I was in sixth grade, there was no option really, other than paying attention in class (or expensive personal tutors who, well, lets face it, really didn’t make kids learn the right way) and then preparing all by yourself for examinations. The only material you had was government-supplied textbooks that focused more on an examination point of view rather than actual learning. The skills needed for grasping more complicated concepts in science was only inculcated through active participation in competitive exams such as Olympiads.
Today, if i want to read about airplanes, I can go to Wikipedia and learn all about them the very same day. So much so, that within a month, I can take online lessons and match my knowledge to a graduate in aerospace. This vast, vast treasure trove of information comes with universities realizing that knowledge must be shared extensively – with more involvement from the student community, the internet continues to be an invaluable resource to students all over the world. But things are slightly different at the school level. Of course, one cannot simply start reading graduate level subjects out of interest. Moreover, it is very important that the ‘Base’ – fundamentals or ‘fundas’ as they are better known – must be absolutely concrete. And this can happen only at the school level. If they aren’t strong, the student will have to first build them later on – which is frankly a waste of time, and no student likes to go back to what he studied at the school level once he graduates from school.
Any kid can read a textbook, learn a few lines, write it in exams and get a good grade. But does that really help them? Not really. Because when they have to apply that knowledge, they fall behind people who use these other resources – and actually learn the subject. These ‘resources’ come in many shapes and sizes, but what is important is that they must be focused on making the student learn. Make him think, develop his curiosity and then challenge him with applications of what he learned – that way, he’ll not see it as an obligation, but as a fun activity that engages him in learning new things. Textbook knowledge is not at all enough, and most students find it boring to read the same thing again and again.
Don’t limit them as far as their education is concerned – it’s important that they pick up as much as they want (and need) to along the way. And with a toll as powerful as the Internet, the whole world is, quite literally, at their fingertips.
About the Author:
Karthik Ramaswamy is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from VIT university, Vellore. He is a captain at Assailing Falcons, VITU’s debut aero design team. He is a writer at the Brain Bought blog.
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