Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I love Science and Languages and shy from Mathematics?

We are built up into what we are today not just because of our own whims and dreams, nor by our parent's or family's, there has been a third factor who has influenced our upbringing a lot, they might or might not have noticed that while they were teaching a bunch of thirty 4-5 times a day 6 days a week. And we, those bunches were like a plasticine clay dough who slowly got molded by them,  their passion or their negligence. In the post "Taare Zameen Par" era I should not dare to blog about the role of a teacher in a child's life but then let me dare.

We are all diverse, children and their teachers as well. It is always a click-chemistry that counts between a student and  a teacher just like in any other relationship, well again Taare Zameen Par has depicted that elaborately.

I am lucky to say that most of the language and science teachers I had in my life were very approachable (first criteria to attract a child's interest) but when I picture those who taught me mathematics were very distant and cold with big eyes and deep voices. I now a mother myself can easily understand that how seeing my maths teachers I started connecting maths to that dryness. I felt numbers to be  boring and I could not connect numbers with the language and science which I was falling in love with. Yes, even not with science. Science books I had to read in primary school years were very picturesque (mostly black and white though) and qualitative, seldom there were any interconnection. I remember drawing water cycle with arrows and labels, rarely related the state of waters with their temperatures, made life cycles of butterfly or plants but never really thought of the time periods involved in each processes.
Only in secondary classes I slowly realized the connection between qualitative phenomena we were studying in sciences and the hidden quantities behind them, and slowly I started getting fun doing the maths required for Physics or Chemistry. Then also I never could think of  the relation between biology and statistics or maths in that sense. The subject maths was still not much fun for me. Anything quantitative was not my cup of tea. But I had to deal with numbers and amounts as I wanted to continue in science. So I started sharing a love hate relationship with maths and that continues till now. There are some parts of it which I can digest but then I mostly try to take a bypass route whenever I see long equations and so on.

Interestingly my sister who has got equivalent atmosphere at home like me, is but opposite to me, language is her hurdle and maths is her love. That too we can relate to a very enthusiastic and approachable maths teacher she got at very early stage of her life. This maths teacher showed her the fun behind cracking problems and she got hooked into it, but unfortunately she never got any good language teacher and she slowly lost her ways in languages, she finally accepted it that she is not good in language and had made content with that. 

Although we both think a proper exposure and little more guidance at school could have helped us to come out of our limitations.

These are only two examples, the same is true with all subjects and for every student of India. After coming to Europe I was amazed to see the combination of subjects students can choose here (in secondary school or in college) and the support they get once they have chosen some thing.  It is actually a far better way to carve a path for a career later on then everybody studying a general line and competing with each other in every field. Recently I heard of a Spanish boy who wants to become a diplomat and wants to work in embassy, so he is studying Economics, English and Public administration. He is also preparing himself for the profession by taking short tours or internships in countries like India to understand people around the world. I don't know whether boy or girl in their twenties think like that in Europe, but I have seen most of them taking a small break after finishing school and doing internships in several fields to find out what they like, what they want to be.  They say a profession in which they will be involved for 30-40 years should be interesting enough for them.  It is fine to use 1-2 year in finding that specific liking for a particular profession. So in most cases they are very good in what they are doing. A school teacher becomes a teacher because he wants to be a teacher not because he could not become a doctor or an engineer and then he had to become a teacher.  He also gets a very good training to become that. A possibility which is almost nil in Indian society even today. Our parents will not like this proposal and also cannot afford this kind of uncertain breaks. Our teachers will not support that too. If a child does not get admission in engineering, medical, law, management or science through competitive channels they will try their best to book a sit in a private colleges for their kids. I know an Indian student very closely who is an artist, who loves animation, photography, music but who is preparing for state level  administration exams because that is a real kind of job in an Indian society.  A sound designer who gives sounds to video games is not very well accepted job in India.

I find no words for these set of believes, because after coming to Europe I have seen an alternative way of education, I see how compatible the students are when they decide to do research in Science then for example I was when I finished my Master's in India. Also as a mother I dream to provide an open education environment for my kid, I know how difficult it is to continue a job for years which is not close to ones heart and I understand how critical the role of Indian youth is going to be in coming years as they are the largest youth population of the world. 
It is very urgent that Indian education system changes itself to provide space to explore for its students. The role of a parent is very important specially not to throw their dream or social expectation on their child's life, but then students themselves have to stand up and say what they want with confidence, it is their life after all. And may be it is a very impractical demand but the teachers should be able to counsel a student and show him some alternative ways except for pushing the whole class for engineering or medical exams.

India is under construction we do need engineers, India has second largest population of the world, we do need doctors but we also need properly trained and enthusiastic teachers, public administrators and artists, chefs, food critics, entrepreneurs, bankers, sports persons, scientists and so on. All educated and trained for their own jobs and not leftover from other professional training.

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