All boards of education in India have an outdated Social Studies Curriculum which is limited to WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE AND HOW questions. Students who memorize like parrots and vomit their reproduce score good marks and come out with flying colors. Another drawback of the curriculum is that it’s highly nationalistic while neglecting intellectual ideas of contemporary thought. Of course standard History books carry World History from the Renaissance and end up with the Cold War. Isn’t that too limiting an international perspective that a student of Social Studies in India gets! Students should be stimulated with Philosophers and the History of ideas. They should have a familiar footing from the days of Socrates to Marx, Freud, Sartre, Cixous , Derrida and Foucault. They should have familiar grounding with the ideas of post modern thinkers. This would help them develop a global perspective that is anthropocentric, humanistic and globally culturally conscientious. Many of the so called best students, that is the students who are academic toppers in their respective schools perform minimally when it comes to coaching institutes offering coaching classes for entrance and medical professions, the most coveted professions that parents and their students aspire. This is another prejudicial Indian flaw, a disease of many middle class Indian parents that Medical and Engineering professions are the best and the most socially desired. The problem lies in the faulty method of curriculum assessment in schools that test rote learning. Academically well performing students are a failure in the exams conducted by these coaching institutes. Those who pass, only the cream are able to join coaching and then a miniscule core gets into medical and engineering courses. These coaching institutes are milking cows and offer a Spartan discipline when it comes to coaching. Students are burdened with academic pressure, peer pressure and also don’t have enough sleeping hours in these institutes. There is a great deal of imbalance between school assessments and the assessment practices adopted by entrance exams. I would like to say that Students should have the acumen and the intellectual potential to directly compete entrance tests without any resort to coaching. The students of India should learn to enjoy what they are doing. I still don’t know why those meritorious institutes of India like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Indian Institute of Technology adopt a totally different strategy of assessment quite superior and that which makes the school assessments quite naïve. Our students in Indian schools are given little opportunity for comprehension, analysis, interpretation and research. Questions of Social Studies are merely limited to WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE AND HOW questions.
Some Case Studies
Comprehension and analysis and Interpretation in History
Students can be given data from Primary and Secondary sources and be asked questions to analyze and interpret the data. Most History text books in India sad to say contain only data from primary sources. And questioners merely frame WHO WHAT WHEN HOW AND WHY QUESTIONS. If this analytical and interpretative ability is fostered in children they will perform naturally well in entrance oriented exams. When writing entrance oriented exams students for the first time in their life encounter comprehensional, analytical and interpretative questions. I also voice serious concern of the fact that the intellectual institutions of India are slowly gaining grounds for hardliners. The ouster of Amarthya Sen is a moot case.
Data Analysis and Interpretation in Geography
Most questions in Geography (I am a 10th Geography teacher) are like this: Name the coal field of that State. Name an off shore oil field of India. Name the characteristics of black and alluvial soil and so forth. Graphic and visual data for example the imports and exports of countries; their GDP and their trade balance can be given. And students can be used to answer questions which comprehend, analyze and interpret the data. This is just an example.
Analytical and Interpretative questions in Literature
I am very saddened by the fact that beautiful subject like literature both regional literature and English Literature which should be used to develop humanitarian values, aesthetic consciousness and cultural appreciation is merely being presented to students with WHO WHAT WHEN WHY HOW WHERE AND WHY questions. Questions can be set on character analysis, connections of the theme with social and contemporary issues etc. At least literary studies from standard eight should be grounded on literary theory like schools of thought in Literature like New Criticism, Existentialism, Marxism, Feminism and Deconstruction. It would do the students no harm.
Re-designing and Making an Indian Global School Curriculum
Some the most sought after International Schools follow IB International Baccalaureate Diploma and the IGCSE the International General Certificate of Secondary Examinations. Though these are non- profit institutions, the IB and the IGCSE, they levy a huge sum as royalty and bleed the purses of the parents. Whey can’t Intellectuals from the Media, from the Indian Institute of Technology and the Jawaharlal Nehru Universality pool and develop an International curriculum that is cheap and affordable and the same time, letting that curriculum become national also.