Friday, January 25, 2013

Why Read Textbooks and not 'Notes'

I may be wrong but most business management students I have come across in the recent years seem to be sceptical of the value of investing time studying. It is definitely not that they are bad students or that they do not want to do well in life. On the contrary, most students in the classes I teach are way better than what we used to be.

In my opinion the blame lies with the education system; the regulatory bodies, the colleges and universities, the faculty and even the parents.

If a student is demonstrated a clear advantage of doing something it is safe to assume that most students will do it. It is then obvious that if you want a student to attend classes and prepare for exams, you just have to demonstrate the benefits of doing so. That said, just telling them that it is for their own good is not good enough! We need to make changes to our teaching and evaluation system where the students who do bother to attend classes and prepare for the exams are actually better off than those who do not! And as of now, I can confidently say that the teaching and evaluation at business schools (at least the second rung schools) is not doing that.

But that does not absolve the students. Working hard persistently is a habit. That is why most achievers have been that consistently throughout their student life. My experience as a student and as a faculty tells me that student performances do not see dramatic improvements even though dramatic falls are possible. Most of us keep scoring in a particular range throughout our student life. In fact, marks during 10+2 and graduation can be good predictors of academic performance during postgrad courses.

So being an achiever or a dud becomes a habit!

Then there is this issue of many of my students telling me that studying theory is futile and that when the time comes, they will deliver!  I am sure some might, but most wont. The reason is simple. Human beings are creatures of habit. Working and achieving is a habit and so is not working and failing. Our habits affect all aspects of our life. It is next to impossible to expect someone to deliver a sterling performance in the industry when the poor soul has not been able to get more than 60% marks ever!!

Then should all those who have scored less than 60% give up??? No…… They should make radical changes in how they work and study. If they keep doing the same things, the results will remain the same.

The changes can be many and in most cases, customised solutions will be needed. Till then, they can start by believing in themselves and start by developing the right “habits”!! One good way is to do the only job they have today. STUDY!!


Heena Puri said...

you are absolutely right sir, change can happen at any time,nad i am also in the line of 60 %, but my practicality and skills of implimentations are far better than 90 % scorer.thank you sir.

ovalorsquare said...

Hiya AP, good article and i do agree with most of what is said. It is fair to ask students to go beyond 'notes reading' and wipe the dust off the books. Not quite sure that year-12 performance is always an accurate precursor of year-16 or 18 and the life beyond. Mind you, from a 16 years old, class 12 student's perspective there are things that need more urgent attention than calculus and financial ratios.

I believe the current education system does not give you an option to actually experiment and develop the critical and independent thinking that is crucial to succeed in a professional life. Text books reading is only beneficial when colleges and universities evaluate and reward students for the authenticity, originality of their ideas and their courage to questions and challenge what has always been accepted blindly and quietly but is clearly wrong.
Now one thing that you should tell your students is to question and take their own decisions rather than having them imposed on them by their teachers, parents ( biggest culprits) and the society.
Wrong decisions made in just spirit are better than seemingly right ones based on perverted sense of propriety because if intentions are right you can change your outlook but when your moral ( NOT in a religious sense)compass is twisted it's all over.
A country where corruption ( both moral and material) is deep rooted and where dirty money and ugly power is a matter of pride what difference can reading books or notes make.
When morals and thoughts are based on by lousy religious and traditional beliefs and on a misplaced, and often undeserved, sense of respect to elders, parents and family - no matter how corrupt and false they are- you will have A-grade students producing F-grade society.

I know you have a personality to influence minds. So may be your next blogs will be more controversial (as you yourself used to be) and thought provoking.
Because man, seriously, if they have not read a book until now, they are not going to pick one now :) :) and it is a nation of note takers. Isn't?

Thanks and my apologies that i digress (guess needed to vent out some anger :)
much love

Ashish Pillai said...

Heena.... I am also a 60% student! But I wish I could say my skills are 90%!! Lucky you!

Ovalorsquare..... Today's post was triggered by a specific event. Stumbled across few of my students trawling the cyberspace for ready made notes. They are looking for 'notes' today to prepare for their exam tomorrow. Kind of hurt!! I agree with all you say and I know that till we are able to overhaul the entire system and more importantly, overhaul the attitudes and perceptions, just reading a textbook is not going to amount to much! I must thank you to underline the importance of 'question & challenge'. Imagine had humanity not done that we would still be happy believing that earth is at the center of the solar system and that if you travel far enough, you will fall off!!

In fact your post is rich!! So much to talk about! I assure you more coming and the blandness will disappear!!