Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fixing the exam problems - better to question the exams!

In the last week, I came across two problems about centralised board exams -
What amazes me is that the newspapers and administration keep talking about and applying band-aids to fix the problems and, rarely, if ever, is there the question of what purpose do these exams serve and do we really need them?

It surprises me even more that just the introduction of the semester system is taken as a reform! There is little discussion about the reasons for the opposition by the faculty.

I do not know why the faculty in various universities oppose the semester system; but I don't think they ask for a change to an internal exam.  But I do know from personal experience that the doubling of the number of centralised exams made a mess of students' and faculty's vacations but did not improve the quality of learning.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Riding a bike to work

My first recollection of using a bicycle is as a pre-school child. My cousins and I had rented some bikes. I was probably riding a bike for the first time. Did I fall on some stones at a construction site? I am not sure but I do not recall touching a bicycle till I was over 18.

My father rented a bike in a park in Tokyo and forced it on me. Somehow, I managed to ride it a bit. The presence of people made me self-conscious and uncomfortable. It was a bit of a 'torture' inflicted on me by my father.

I enjoyed bicycling on IIT,K campus during the year I spent as a post-doc. Many years later, I satisfied my desire to bicycle to work - using my son's bicycle. I rode to work on a weekend. Even on a weekend, the vehicular traffic overtaking me made me uncomfortable. Besides, Mapusa was a hilly town. So, on several sections I had to walk and drag the bicycle. Overall, I did not enjoy it enough to switch to using a bicycle to commute.

If only I had learnt bicycling well as a child, I presume, by overcoming my phobia of people. At least commuting by bicycling may have been more fun. I may even have bought myself a mountain bike for moving around in Mapusa.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My one game of Golf

I couldn't escape Physical Education even in college. I took a class on Golf  and it wasn't too bad. Actually, I think that I may even have enjoyed it, at least until the exam. It was almost an individual activity. But there was a final exam. The exam was that I had to go to a golf course and actually play a game.

I was alone. A group of two people agreed and let me join them. I must have been a nervous wreck. I can't recall the golf ball flying through the air. Somehow, the harder I tried, the worse it got. I would manage to hit the ball but invariably in a way that it just rolled on the ground.

Inspite of my poor play, we reached a hole where the previous group was still on the green. Knowing the quality of my play, my 'team mates" suggested that I take my shot. There was no pressure. It was embarrassing that I was regarded as absolutely no threat to the team ahead of us. I did not think that I  could scare anyone either. So, I went ahead and the shot was remarkable! It was nearly perfect and landed close to the green.

I knew I could play :) But it did not help. I played the remaining holes even worse than before.

I wish I understood why the mere presence of people wrecked my brain.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Very Dumb Ride

It is hard to believe that I could have done something so stupid.

I had bought a bicycle about a kilometer or two from the main gate of IIT, Kanpur along a national highway. It was just two lanes and undivided at the time and with lots of heavy vehicle traffic.

I decided to ride the bicycle back. It seemed foolish to be walking with a bicycle.

The stupidity of my action hit me later. I was riding within the campus and three boys were chatting on a path way. I recall shouting at them and they staring at me, a little confused. Not for long though as I rammed into them. No damage was done except to my ego :) I apologised and explained that I was learning to ride a bike.

I keep wondering if a truck had speeded past me, what could have happened!