Scenario 1: You’re sitting at home, deeply engrossed in a video game and you’re suddenly interrupted by your parents who ask go out and buy a bunch of stuff from the market. But they don’t tell you why. When you ask why your parents tell you it’s for the future. When you ask how, they tell you, “you will know with time”. So now you rush off to the market with a long list of things that your parents asked you to bring home. The list is constantly running in your head. You try to not forget anything on the list. You recite and recite the entire list hoping that you remember everything. Now you’re done with purchasing but, while you return back home you realize there might be a few things that you forgot to buy. You try recalling the entire list again in your head and you know that you are forgetting a couple of things but you can’t remember what.
Scenario 2: You’re sitting at home, deeply engrossed in a video game and you’re suddenly interrupted by your parents who tell you that they have something to discuss with you. They tell you about the importance of building a home. They tell you why it is necessary to build a home. Then they hand you a list of things and tell you the purpose of each item on the list. They tell you how and when those things will come handy and why each one of them is essential for you to build a home. After all been told and explained they accompany you to the market so that you can buy those things. They come with you so at any point you forget or miss any thing they remind you to buy that as well.
Scenario 1 explains how cramming works and scenario 2 explains how learning works.
When it comes to such a topic, we are confronted with the age old adage,” There is no cramming for a test of character, it always comes with a pop quiz.”
Learning by cramming often leads to an achievement of short term goals, with no long term application. Without comprehending what is learnt, cramming is a means to an end for purposes that are as transient as the weather. Today, they guarantee you marks, but later there is nothing you can fall back on.
The Indian education system is tailor made for those who can cram concepts, theories, processes well. With a major disadvantage of a large pupil teacher ratio, the quality of education is also compromised. Tests conducted in schools and colleges give preference to those who can cram better, faster, and clearly. For eg: a subject like chemistry, requires one to cram the formulae and processes to create a foundation on which other theories are based. On the other hand, for a subject like history, there is no better way than cramming to learn the subject in its entirety.
Hence, it becomes clear that to learn subjects which require, application of concepts such as physics, chemistry, biology initial cramming becomes a necessary and sufficient condition for future learning to take full effect. On the other hand, for theoretical subjects like history, geography, cramming is a necessary and sufficient condition from start to end.
Assessment of what has been grasped is done by the age old method of written tests in the Indian education system. The tests gauge the student’s retention ability rather than the ability to apply what is learnt. That is why, most students who are the future of the Indian workforce often claim, that what they learn on the job has nothing to do with the formulae and methods they learnt to understand trigonometry, so to speak.
From the point of view of competitive exams such as the CAT, CA,IAS ,Civil services for that matter, the prospect of cramming only helps up to the point of knowing what the basic formula for speed is(for example : ) or what kind of process does the parliamentary system of India utilize in passing a vote in the Lok Sabha on a bill. Beyond that what is needed is a solid logical understanding of the problems presented, which in turn is not enhanced at the school level. In other words, 30% to 40% of the student’s ability to cram and 60% to 70% of the student’s ability to apply is an ideal way to move ahead in the rat race. Also, today, what we see is that there are a large number of students who sit for such exams (nearly 2 lakh candidates) and only 1000 out of those 2 lakh students manage to make it to the best colleges and jobs in India. We are looking at a probability of 0.005 which is 0.5% of the undergraduate student population. Which is why it is often seen that the rank holders do an average job and drop outs do a better than average job. Why is it that we see only one Dhirubhai Ambani or one Ratan Tata. So much for R&D!!!
So what is the way forward?
Firstly, humans should be removed as a way of invigilating tests. Digital technology should takeover.
Secondly, the younger generation should be taught by a set of people who specialize in teaching. Home schooling the younger generation will not work.
In fact, the British education system was used as a way of standardizing people to achieve a given outcome. What was realized, later on, through an experiment, called “ the hole in the wall” was that young students do not need any prior knowledge to learn something new. One just needs to excite the curiosity levels of the children.
However, cramming on the other hand, does sharpen memory. It improves the efficiency with which one works.
In short, learning and cramming are interdependent on each other. One cannot do without the other. One begins the whole process of learning from cramming and then builds on further. However, cramming does make one achieve their objective, which is getting a job and leading a happy life. This works perfectly in the Indian system. However, it is not seen as a reliable way to gauge a person’s intelligence.
Agree or disagree with us? Let us know how you feel. And visit Pedagoge to fulfill your learning requirements!