The corners of newspapers hide stories that are interesting. Deep indicators of what we chose to be.
The other day there was one.
A team of Professors vetoed some new additions to what the students are supposed to learn at the Department Of English at Delhi University.
There was a suggestion that Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five point someone’ be included in the syllabus. One other notable thing that was put forward was a chapter on how to write a Facebook post. All wre voted down.
“How degrading!” The old and learned Professors must have lamented. They must have, after having hyper sweetened tea past the meeting, gossiped about the failing standards of the younger generation, while scrolling through their smart phones, reading Whatsapp forwards and interesting Facebook posts.
The world is changing at a blistering pace. The comfortable world many of the old timers, and even the new middle aged, had comfortably inhabited, is gone forever. Change is not a new thing. It has taken on an exponential turn.
In education, we are now trying to train our youngsters, for what?
For a world that we wouldn’t have thought it possible to exist, for jobs not yet heard of, using technology that is not yet invented, to produce goods and services we do not yet realize we need.
When I went for a talk at a Med School, I asked a question, to an auditorium full of students:
“How many of you leaf through the newspaper every day?”
Among the group of 500 students, three or four hands went up.
I didnt ask them how many used Facebook or twitter, browsed the net for information, used uber or amazon, or whatsapped with friends on the other side of the globe. I didnt have to.
Another interesting thing happened, during an earlier visit to my Alma Mater. A very old Professor told me:
“The students these days are stupid. They don’t know much about the things that matter.”
I asked a very perceptive colleague who was a faculty and closer to my age about ‘today’s students’.
“Extremely smart and talented. Outspoken. Way ahead of us when we were students here, twenty years ago. There is no comparison.” He said.
Hm.. Why the disconnect?
Look- I am not at all a big fan of Chetan Bhagat. Far from it. But the fact remains that he is the most read author in English in India today.
Do you know that most of the popular writers are the ones that write in Facebook? In Kerala, Muralee Thummaarukudi, has become a household name, only through his entertaining and informative facebook posts.
Is a Department of English even required? Cant this course be run entirely online?
These are the type of changes that are expected. The future, which is already here, is not going to be a gentle breeze, but a Tsunami. We don’t want to catch it blindfolded. (Jimmy Mathew)