Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Questioning "fixed durations" for different levels of education

One mindset that we need to question in my opinion is different levels of education being associated with a fixed number of years. For example, it is generally expected that everyone take 12 years for high school education. Why should that be so? If someone can move faster, why not? On the other hand if someone needs more time, what's the problem? The point is to learn and understand different subjects properly. Whether one does it in 8 years or 12 years or 15 is hardly relevant in my opinion. Secondly, I think we need to think about bringing in a system which allows different subjects to be covered at different speeds. For example Maths may come easy to someone while Chemistry may take a bit of time. Why not allow such a student to move from year to year faster in Maths and slower in Chemistry?
Likewise for undergraduate education. We have fixed notions: 3 years for B.A. / B.Sc / B.Com, 4 years for B.E. / B.Tech., etc. Again, why should we think of these programs in terms of any fixed duration of time? Instead, wouldn't it be better to focus on what needs to be learned and absorbed properly and be flexible about the time it may take someone to do so? If someone finishes their B.Tech. in 3 years: Cool. If someone takes 7: That's cool too. (Within reasonable limits of course: we don't want people becoming lazy in the name of learning slowly)
A couple of Institutes that I know of in India that have tried to bring in this flexibility at the undergraduate level through the idea of focusing on the "number of credits to be accumulated" instead of "number of years required" are IIT Kanpur and IIT Bombay. I think its a cool initiative. Maybe such an approach needs to be contemplated upon by more schools, colleges, different boards and regulatory bodies.

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