Friday, October 8, 2010

Students, Teachers, Testing and Facebook

There were two news items which attracted my attention.

The first was that a number of students in a Chandigarh school were suspended for making offensive remarks against a teacher on Facebook. It appears that one student did not like the marks he got on a test. A number of fellow students supported him.

To many, this would be an indication of the problem with internal grades. Anonymous marking implies that the students cannot target a teacher.

There is no doubt that public comments can be offensive and hurtful. In interactions between people, some intentional and unintentional hurtful remarks are inevitable. However, the advantage is that the problem is out in the open in a few days. Action is taken in a few days. And students and teachers will learn to cope with the implications of new technologies.

The other item was actually an opinion piece by an ex-Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University. His view was that teachers in government schools were not accountable and were not performing their responsibilities adequately. A major problem was the curse of paid tuition classes, which he felt needs to be addressed urgently.

Tuition classes seem to be everywhere. Even in our local shopping area, there are as many tuition classes as there are grocery stores! Tuition classes rely upon standardised tests and preparing students to do well in them. What if the tests, including the final, were internal and the final exam was not critical. What would be the value of the tuition classes?

My belief is that an internal system will lead to a far better relationship between the teachers and the students though there is bound to be confusion in the transition period. But I doubt if I will see it happen.

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