Of percentages and related things…

I just discovered maidinmalaysia’s blog. And man! It’s awesome. And this post in particular reminded me that I haven’t blogged for a while. I so totally agree with everything she says, that I don’t really know where to start. She says she has three problems with this percentage business. I have many, many more.

  1. As MIM says, it doesn’t show a thing about you. Zilch. Zero. You may get an astronomical percentage in your exams, but that doesn’t mean you are intelligent. You may barely touch sixty, and it doesn’t show you are stupid. It merely shows how much you can mug up and vomit during the three hours you are forced to sit in an exam hall.
  2. How much you score in an exam, has absolutely nothing to do with what you in life post-school. Your marks should not determine your fate. Unfortunately for us, that’s exactly what it does. A person must be judged on aptitude and not rote memory. Our present educational system puts absolutely no emphasis on creativity, aptitude or intelligence.
  3. Marks are not, and can never be, a judge of character. People who score less than average marks are not necessarily inferior to toppers. They deserve no less than those who score high in examinations. I will never understand the air of superiority with which high scorers strut around, especially in academic and scholastic circles.
  4. MIM got me started on the whole science vs. humanities debate. Now, I will never shut up. It galls me when people give me looks of derision when I say I am a History graduate. Or when they say that someone with a 50 percent in the final exam can only get a seat in the History department. I am angry that History, Politics, Fine Arts and other social sciences are somehow considered inferior to the natural and physical sciences. I get extremely pissed off when people tell me that any fool can get a degree in the Arts. I feel like telling them to try. I feel like challenging them that it’s impossible to do.

Society plays a major role in influencing a person’s options. While the mind acknowledges this fact and sees the logic behind people sticking to Engineering or Medicine as a career choice, my heart still pleads for sanity sometimes. The problem does not lie with the subjects per se, but with the perception that only people who do Engineering and medicine can be successful. One comment on MIM’s post made me realise this harsh reality. Ultimately, for most people, education is not about acquisition of knowledge. It’s about acquiring a passport to a better life. I beg your pardon. A richer life. Period. Whether you like studying what you study is immaterial. What is important is whether it gets you the moolah. Maybe I am getting a bit cynical. But sadly, that’s the way the world works. I wonder if this attitude will ever change. If we, as a people, as a society and a culture, will ever get around to accepting that other subjects (read the soft options) are as good as the hard sciences. I can only hope it changes by the time my children get to college. At least.

3 thoughts on “Of percentages and related things…

  1. Suki says:

    Being a graduate(well… provided I pass the round of exams I finished today) in English literature, never getting stellar marks but always being told I had “great potential”, and having a tendency to flub up exams… I love you for this post!

  2. meenakshi says:

    Yes this education system and it products has more problems than mere intellectual aptitude of the society. When a “collective’ deludes economic success as the only criteria for success, and strives for only economic gain, there will be social and philosophical loss for the society, making it mostly soulless. Consequently you have a society that will not leave economic success to chance and invest money into the venture, while it will leave the social, moral and philosophical success to chance or to any bungling godman/woman!
    The absurdity stands up more prominently when a society that once pursued high though and had a glorious period of art and literature, now only clings to memories of these, like a nearly forgotten dream to the waking need of the stomach.

  3. selvan says:

    I remember how my son was forced to go for engineering though he was all for joining journalism. Since journalism was considered the preserve of the elites the boy was forced to study engineering. The engineering degree got him a chance to go to the U.S.A for higher studies and apparently he is happy about having landed in America. About this learning by rote one has to go through what Frank Mores has written in his “A Witness To An era”. Our society puts great store on learning by rote and never allows anybody to think for himself/herself. One has to follow what has been stipulated by the elders/ mythical sages and avatars.

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