It was co-incidental that J and I were discussing the same thing at a point of time when this very relevant article was published on rediff –
Our source of discussion was J’s colleague – Kris G , a Belgian engineer who happened to be on a 2-week visit to Singapore (is this my first revelation of the place where I live :)). J and he are more friends than colleagues may be because they frequented each other on J’s three week recent trip to Belgium. Kris G came home for casual dinners even during weekdays and seemingly enjoyed my cooking ( I at the least have 1 guy who is a fan of my cooking..and he came back again for more he he he ). We had interesting conversations with this guy which opened up quiet a few revelations on lifestyle, thinking, culture and education of the Europeans Vs the Indians.
Here we were J and I with one a master degree and the other a bachelors degree from above average colleges in India – even if we combined our engineering knowledge on the subject we call ourselves experts – It’s no where going to be even 10% of Kris G’s knowledge on the same subject. For example if we were looking at a ‘Theorem’ J or I for that matter may just phrase out what the statement (or may be J can get one step closer with the formula ) but, nothing more than that – It was astounding for us as we were talking to a guy who with just given a paper and pencil would prove the theorem and get ahead with the derivatives straight out of his mind (pinch ourselves ! We very conveniently excused ourselves stating that we knew it in our college days 🙂 too many years have passed by for us to recall anything – u know ! ) …and We call ourselves Engineers ! (Go hang yourselves – Indian bred Engineers !)
Later in my discussion with J – I learnt that Kris’s knowledge in design at work was excellent and his foundation/basics were unbeatable. The education imparted on him or ‘rather the product of a system he’d become off ‘ was just amazing. Going back to my engineering days – I studied like clockwork just to score marks and get myself a distinction – just to stand first in that semester – just to beat my competitor ? Where was I taking myself – did I question myself on what knowledge I had on the subject while I was learning it ? I don’t think so – Reality strikes when u get to the corporate with an “Engineer ” tag and nothing in your head. It becomes the corporate’s responsibility to train you and actually make you one, so they can get their work going ! The Engineering University/College would easily wash off their hands showing a distinction certificate that it gave you ? It’s quality vs quantity – Could you believe – I did read a recent article on how many thousands of engineering seats were vacant just in Karnataka and on how engineering colleges were sprouting up like mushrooms all over the state – What do these so called engineering colleges churn out – dumb heads with degree certificates ?
When in India you are among your fellow ‘Engineers’ who came out of the same bush and it’s hard to realize the difference. It strikes you quiet immediately when you land in a distant country. The quality of education that the Engineers have in other countries like Singapore or any other developed nation is far very different from our system or it’s students.
J and I in our conversation decided that M should be trained on rationalizing concepts rather than being fed with them. J also went to the extent of mentioning he would stop M from doing his homework if he gets to know that M’s not understanding the concept of the subject and is just doing it merely because his teacher asked him to do it.
There’s far more an introspection needed on this subject – Now, Will the Indian Education System do the thinking for us – we are not bred to do the “thinking” you see – “We just swallowed and threw up what was in front of us – just straight from the book to the exam paper ! “