Controversial Paragraph in a British Essay by Charles Radcliffe Cooke

There are two pieces of controversial material that I found in my cursory reading of the essay. (By no means, did I read it in its entirety).

The first thing that caught my eye first was this paragraph.

Wow. The British saw this when they were here so early. In my personal opinion, this is true even of today.

The second controversial topic was one that I had blogged about earlier. – the McCaulay address to the Parliament stating that, bringing in the British system of education into India was to ensure that they brainwash us into their system and that they can have more control over the “natives”.

This essay which is dated much before that indicates that the “natives” wanted more British system of Education. The British started setting up Sanskrit Universities, but the “natives” under folks like Ram Mohan Roy wanted more of the British education, and not something that they have been learning for a long time.

Ram Mohun Roy, after praising the Government for the exertions it was making in the cause of native education, goes on to say that, however thankful the natives must feel for the interest thus shown in their welfare, yet they cannot help perceiving that the labours of the Government are being misdirected, whether through ignorance of native wishes, or from other causes not specified. He therefore thinks it incumbent upon him to place before the authorities some statement of the native opinions and desires upon the subject. When therefore it was known that a certain sum of money had been voted for the purpose of promoting and encouraging education among our Indian subjects, ” We were filled,” he says, “with sanguine hopes that this sum would be laid out in employing European gentlemen of talent and education to instruct the natives of India in mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, anatomy, and other useful sciences, which the natives of Europe hare carried to a degree of perfection that has raised them above the inhabitants of the other parts of the world.”

If, he observes, the Government wished to preserve the study of the Sanskrit language, it could have done so by holding out certain premiums, and granting allowances to professors, already too numerous, by whom those who were desirous of learning the language, might be instructed; but he regards the establishment of a Sanskrit College, in which the native youth, besides spending much valuable time in acquiring a knowledge of the Sanskrit tongue, would learn that which was taught two thousand years ago, and waste their energies in speculations suggested by the Vedanta, in metaphysical subtilties and logical niceties, much as an Englishman would have looked upon an attempt to replace the Baconian philosophy by the system of the schoolmen, calculated, as it alone was, to perpetuate ignorance. Impelled by these considerations, and a sincere desire for the good of his country, and the spread of true knowledge amongst its inhabitants, Ram Mohun Eoy prays the Governor-General to expend the grant of money in the promotion and extension of Western rather than Oriental learning.

I am not saying that this is the truth or fact. But this seems to introduce more controversy does it not?

Hat tip to ChennaiKaran Plus Ultra for pointing me to this essay.

This is Water ….

THIS IS WATER – By David Foster Wallace from The Glossary on Vimeo.

Beautiful. This is an excerpt of a commencement speech that David Foster Wallace gave – wonderfully adapted into video by the great guys at The Glossary.

Simple explanation on the real value of education.

Watch in full screen. The commentary is also beautifully delivered.

Making a KSV (Khan Style Video)

For those who have not heard of Khan Academy, please go here ->

Salman Khan, who started the Khan Academy, created the first few videos for his nephews who were living on the other coast of the United States. He found that, explaining concepts over youtube videos was much more easier, and that his nephews found it way more productive learning from them. There are several reasons why and if you want to know more, you should hear his TED talk.

Long story short, he started finding that, folks all over the world, on the internet, started loving his tutorial style short videos. He now runs this as a non-profit organization. He also has a learning framework that he is experimenting with, in the public school system.

The best thing about a Khan Style Video is its brevity, its clarity, and its simplicity. So Khan’s mentor (his professor at MIT) Anant Agarwhal asked him to do a KSV on how to create a KSV. And in his own words, Khan says, “he does a best effort in trying to accomplish this very meta level task”.


100% cutoff is just absurd

100% cut-off is just absurd

This is one of those occasional rant posts that I write. If you do not want to know my opinion on stuff, please stop reading here.

I just read in the headlines of the Times of India that, with the “brilliance” of students going higher and higher, and the CBSE results becoming better and better, the cut-off marks (min bar for admission, if you are a non-Indian reader) for some colleges in Delhi is apparently 100%. Ok. Take a deep breath. What this means is that, if you get a score of anything less than a 100%, you are automatically disqualified from even applying to that college.

I just find that super absurd. I have always found that absurd about CBSE. Grading standards, when I did my XII boards (in 1998) were pretty bad – not that I thought of it that way, then. You will get an idea when I told you that I got a 98% in Chemistry, which was my weak spot. I did not get comparable marks in other subjects (where I was not very strong in, either). Couple of years later, I heard from someone, that they had gotten 98% in English. That blew my brains out. Mortal human beings cannot get a 98% in English. The subject itself is one, where you evaluate the command over a language and is subjective. It is not mathematics, where if you solve your problems right, you CAN get a 100%. Or for that matter, the sciences as well.

Fast forward to today (2011), it looks like that this absurdity has either continued, or has worsened. When I read the papers today, and it said cut-off marks were a 100%, I was blown away.

Board examinations are competitive examinations in my opinion. These examinations decide admissions into a whole plethora of colleges. And this means that you cannot continue having template questions for which you can provide template answers and have a half a million people score 100%, and hence result in such a thing as a 100% cutoff.

In general, I have always ranted (probably not in this blog), about how the education system needs to change. I believe, the education system should cultivate and grow on an induvidual level (from a very young age), on what the individual is interested in. If a child is interested in music (and is super gifted), he should not be stuffed with the same math and science curriculum that everyone else has to endure. Note that I did not say that the child does not need to study math and science. It is a pre-req for anyone in this world to know some basic math and science – lest he not know how to count how much money is in his purse, or not know that putting his hand into an electrical socket can give him an electrical shock. The only alternative for a super gifted child these days, is to drop out of school and concentrate on his music – excellent example being AR Rehman. Interestngly, legendary Mandolin player U Shrinivas, did drop out of school, since he could not cope with the pressure, but his wise parents arranged for home tutoring, and he cleared is schooling from home.

One other change that I would love to see, is to get more practicality into the syllabus. Are we really going to benefit from learning complex calculus. Let me rephrase that – Are we “All” going to benefit from learning complex calculus? Probably not. Algebra is something that all of us need, but not calculus. Integration by parts still gives me bad dreams. Have I used differentiation and integration in the last 17 years, after I cleared school. Nope. And yep, I have a PhD to boot too :).

Another big grouse that I had, when I was growing up, but is changing slowly, was the lack of alternatives. Now, you can choose to do Industrial Design as a coarse – learn icon design, web page design, cognitive sciences, UX principles, the works. You can study animation. You can study film production. Why, you can even study packaging technology, if that is what interests you. Not long ago, either there were no alternatives, or even if they did, they had social stigmas. I am glad that both are improving. I know of guys, who go and do their degree in tourism or hotel management.

When there is so much advances that are happening in the undergraduate and graduate area – why is our schooling system still stuck up.

Anyways, I think my rant is over now. I will breathe easy. My son is just about to wake up. The sun is rising, and I will get back to reality ….