Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Education System, 3 Idiots etc

(In my blogging heydays, I tagged posts such as this as the anti-post in my drafts. With an intent to provoke the reader.)

I often hear people say that they liked the Amir Khan movie - 3 Idiots. Many claim to espouse a view that is similar to the one that forms part of the movie's central theme. If you are such a reader, I have the following observations to make.

1. You are the target audience:  This move was about clever marketing more than anything else. In a school/college classroom of hundred people, there is only one first ranker. Probably 2-3 people who fall under the category of people who are focused on marks and end up getting a lot of it.  The rest of people are sort of also-rans from a pure numbers perspective. In the long run the people who weren't in the top 3 ranks  may make it big in life. They may not make it big. But that is besides the point. This movie very conveniently makes a guy who is focused on marks look like an idiot. It makes a person who works well within the rules of the system look like a fool. The very purpose of doing so is to make the other 97 people look good. Most viewers of this movie probably fall in the "other 97%" category. This movie makes a lot of people feel good about their relatively average academic performance. It gives them a feeling that they got less marks - not because they didn't study well or because of any incompetence on their part- but because of some other profound reason. It allows them to blame the system. In effect it gives them an excuse - a hugely popular excuse - to justify why they didn't get a lot of marks. To put it more bluntly, the movie makes losers in the education evaluation system look good. Most of the general population are such losers and so they tend to like it. In reality,  I suspect that not all first rankers cram the syllabus. The ones who do are exceptions not the example. It is actually hard to mug up and ace one exam after the other without understanding what one is mugging up. These narratives are put-forth and exaggerated by losers who couldn't score as high as their classmates.

2. The path not taken always seems full of great possibilities: There are times when I suck at my job, I think I would have done great as an SBI officer.or in a state government job. The reason for this perception is that the aforementioned green-grass-on-other-side looks trivial and an easy-job in my eyes. But you ask a  person who works there, they'll say how difficult that job is. In India - there is intense competition and lengthy queues for everything. Even a B.A. History admission for an evening college. Blaming a unfulfilling career/education on "It is not my passion" is one thing. Assuming you will be good in your passion and would always trade-off a average career in software field for a try-and-fail scenario in the field of your passion is totally something else. Most software engineering I have talked to claim that they should have been something else in their lives. Many instinctively assume that trying and failing in a career of their choice is a better alternative to trying and somewhat succeeding in s/w engineering. And they are the most risk averse people I have seen.  They wont risk Rs 1 in their lives. But in theory they have wet dreams about a failed career in some sexy field. And they wont appreciate the 2000 Sq ft 4 bedroom house in which they are living such regretful unfulfilled lives. If someone is considering blaming their poor academic performance on not being allowed to have a non-existent career as a photographer or a cinematographer, that means they've never talked to a real-life photographer. A debate on this topic that does not consider the fact that a person's self-perceived talents in an non-mainstream field field might very well be insufficient or delusional is a half-baked debate.

3. Biting the hand that feeds you: In the 70s and 80s many people didn't have what we now call as a career. They had a cycle carrier. That is the closest they came. Some managed a bank job. A minuscule few managed to be a doctor or an engineer.  Survival was such a high priority. It is not as if the people who lived in those times were less talented or less aware of life's mundane nature. One couldn't afford to make an error in choosing a career. A slight slip here and there and you become what your relatives would refer to as "thanda soru" or a "tharudhalai". This means you were an arts college student in an era where an NIIT diploma or an MCA will not bail you out into financial prosperity.  If you thought you'd be a great painter or had some talent in taking close-up photographs of random flowers and animals you better be really sure of the pay-off of that talent. Such people ended up a Thasildhar office peone doing something unrelated to their talents. Its all awesome to appreciate Varumayin Niram Sivappu. Never easy to live it. There is a very good reason why parents force their kids into an economically safe career zone. They are playing the percentages. They have been there. Seen some dead bodies along the way and so want to make sure their children  arent one of them. Any movie or a debate on this topic that does not appreciate this forethought of parents is immature.

4. Blunting the knife.  Given the country's population, the potential she had to create a large number of people below poverty line was remarkable. That it managed instead to be a booming economy where people sat in A/C offices and criticized their careers is actually a great thing. The primary reason we weren't the biggest Somalia in the world was because of the laser focused investment in education. An education system that allegedly prepared you to "mug up", "cram", do anything to somehow get over the line. Products of this system are now average trundlers in the software engineering field without even trying very hard. These are people who may have ended up jobless in the 70s and 80s. Today they probably have 2 houses and a car. This education system has created millionaires, world's industry leaders and a sustainable reputation in the world market. That it has managed to keep such a vast population employed and luxurious is an outstanding achievement. It was made possible by shutting out a few talents and many dreams. It was made possible because parents prioritized survival over idealism. An intensely competitive education system that brutally focused on math, phy, chem and worshipped marks/aggregates and centums has ensured that even the people who come out as below average in this system are extremely employable and very much wanted in western countries. Movies like 3-idiots trivialize and dismisses this profound context. It treats parents as mindless bimbos forcing children into a sausage machine. It ridicules an education system that has kept the country in the economic race. It is an education system that has prepared us well for the harsh realities of life. Instead of appreciating the system - the movie panders to the immature interests of the audience and propounds an alternative blunted education system. The kind of system that western countries have. And these are the countries who don't have a lot of employable skilled labor.

To sum up, I empathize with people whose dreams and talents have been shut down. I used to be among those who thought I shouldn't have been a IT guy but something more profound. And I have less talent than the guy who complains less than 1/10th of what I do. The point of this post is not to shoot down anyone who dreams of an alternate career or anyone who thinks of putting their talents to use. I still have complaints about the educational system and do have regrets about my career. But I don't think my class first ranker is a idiot who mugs up stuff and reads the wrong speech without knowing what he is reading. It is that half-baked criticisms of education system and immature criticism of parent's attitude towards children's career is getting increasingly annoying. Every fool who can count up to 3 is calling himself a rebel. This Amir Khan character who studies purely for passion, who is so puristic that he doesn't even earn a degree for himself but goes on to have billion dollar patents that feed mountain/tribal kids is as immature and unreal as it gets. These things don't exist in the real world. We want less liberal arts dummies and more employable people in the future.


Ganesh said...

Gotta agree with some of the points that you've highlighted. The scenario was indeed very different when my Dad graduated from college when compared to what it is now, so can't blame him for his mindset.

IMHO, people who want to do something different will anyway end up doing that because of their drive and passion, more than anything else.

I work in a startup, and I meet random people everyday who give me the usual 'Oh you're doing something that you love, that's so cool. Someday I'm planning to quit my job and bla bla..', but don't even take the first step towards doing that because they're tied to their comfy lifestyle that they 'hate' because its 'cool' to do so.

P.S: Even by entertainment value, 3 Idiots was absolute crap.

Subfusced said...

I think point #2 is the most relevant of them all. In sports and the arts, even being an OK pro requires exponentially more talent/ discipline than being an excellent amateur! These lucrative-yet-rare careers are both only because one has to be at the top 0.01% of their game to make a good living. Passion without exceptional talent will just make one a knowledgable fanboy or a tweeter. Also, the luck/ connections factor is non-trivial in getting a breakthrough even with exceptional talent, and no one seems to acknowledge that!

On point #3, kids ridiculing the "safe job" mentality just don't appreciate the context where their parents acquired such a mindset. That said, these days, both husband and wife work, and unless they have to support parents or aren't going to inherit a home, they can get by pretty well with 1 person having a stable job and another going after the pie in the sky.

Apart from all of this, there is this myth that everyone is passionate about some activity that could be monetized. While this is true in countries where personality development and exploration is encouraged in school, in India, it's very possible to 25 and passionate about nothing but spending money and watching cricket. So, any job could be a bore.

I said...

The difference between following the heart and obeying the parents is not as trivial as the size of the car or house. It is as big as living with some romantic regrets versus crushing failure accompanied by a lot of remorse.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I hated this freakin movie. Turning the studious guy into a caricature...anything but funny.

And yea, when i was in school, and worked hard enough to get the 1st rank, there were plenty of girls who grumbled that i was just "mugging" or that the "teachers were partial". Trust me, I understood my lessons and truly loved learning. Later, I kinda fell off the wagon and lost my first rank status, but it was only because i became a slacker, and not because I was pursuing "true learning"

Now, could you please post your take on Lagaan?!!!

I am a ComplexNumber said...

Well Said. In the name of "making a point" this movie actually shoots down serious thought and trivializes things. Also it is NOT even funny.
In Indian cinema, You get one chance to produce such a movie. I think they screwed it up in terms of its content and handling. Also it is NOT even funny

I agree with you on Toppers. In my school, they are mostly the ones who actually understand how things work and are passionate about their subject.

3 Idiots goes for melodrama rather than real Drama. I love "Mayakkam Enna" for all its faults as it produces a more riveting picture or what a person who lives for his dreams goes through. Even ME goes for a story where some guy cheats Dhanush etc etc. It is actually much more complex than that. But that is Selva's choice and his story.

Switch gear:
It takes a certain mindset to go truly for your dreams. Primary reason being that finding oneself is so damn difficult. Knowing what you are good at is Non-trivial. The one thing that i would agree is that such an attempt can ONLY happen when you are really young (right out of college or right before college). After that your career for most part is shaped. There is an opportunity cost (fear of risk essentially) to consider other things. Once you have a wife and kids it is even more challenging.

Yes, we should be thankful to what we have. Yes, we should listen to our heart and use our brains too.

Alan Smithee said...

Two movies annatha - "Dead Poet's Society" and "Stand and Deliver". Both are in AFI top 100 and archived in LoC I believe, but whenever (mostly privileged white) people tell me the former is great, I point to them the kind of childhood I had in a country where the government was the only job provider and the latter movie.

Simply put, 3 Idiots is a movie for the newer India where parents don't depend on the next paycheck and the kids have the luxury of "exploring" shit. Whatever that means.

I am a product of a different India where preparing for IIT at 8th class was a way out of kanakkupillai job, ink on he thumb and cycle/scooter towards a computer job and maruti 800.

And like our post on MBA admit essays, we are motivated by that lake front house and BMW and are chicken enough to not deal drugs.

There... I said it.

Anupadmaja said...

Huh … the movie did not call all first rankers stupid - Aamir Khan role does secure 1st rank! I think you have misconstrued what the movie is about. Please watch it again.

The Other Anu said...


But thats just a technicality right. The meta point of the movie still indicates that parents force their children into engineering, the 'apple in the eye' boy in class getting lot of marks is an oversized farting idiot, things like wildlife photography is a real career and should be pursued.

The post counters all of that. I thought Rancho was a fake psuedo-psychology spouting character. More like an angel from outer space and not from this planet.


thepsychologic said...

Have to agree with anupadmaja. I believe the point of the movie was that one must understand and do something rather than just mug things up for the sake of marks. Rancho was the topper, he did score high marks. It was all about innovation and creativity and doing what the heart desires than going with the crowd.

Hawk Eye said...

as the other anu said - the post is about the meta point this movie makes via blatant caricatures and cartoonish portrayals of the 'silencer', principal, parents and rancho. takes the easy way out without indulging in honest debate.

Anonymous said...

This is one of your best articles. Really well written. Dont understand how people can forget the past so easily. Even today cities like Chennai and Mumbai are full of people who spend all their lives in poverty hoping to be an "artist".

Anupadmaja said...

Firstly, a movie being dramatic as a criticism against a movie is a technicality. Take most of Dhanush's movies like Polladhavan - he is a cigarette smoking by-stander in a road, then he interacts one day with a top rowdy and becomes extremely successful/powerful from that point on.

Moving on ...

The point of 3 Idiots is not that people who are successful are stupid. Silencer didn't end up a beggar. [His character and for that matter Rancho's character was just made dramatic like most Indian movies do to make it interesting in the story]. Also, successful people being petty is not an impossible combination - I have seen shades of Silencer in my real life classmates :)

The point of the movie is that life is not one-dimensional. Its okay to not succeed if you just cannot. The cannot could be because of family pressure (The third friend), lack of ability or interest in the domain in which success is being measured (Madhavan's character) or pressure from another one-dimensional person who was successful and now is powerful (the professor and his son who commits suicide or the professor and the brilliant student who is failing in a temporary phase). The now clich├ęd "All is well" is the key to the movie. No matter how much successful people may hate to accept it, life still goes on (even after facing big failures). Infact, both success and failure can turn a person very one-dimensional and that's what the movie advocates as potentially unnecessary blockade to life. You can pursue being a top graduate from IIT, but more importantly, if you don't make it, don't commit suicide - its not the end of life. If you can find another interest that will keep your life rolling, embrace it.

Rancho's character simply stays to prove that passion/drive can be a way of learning. To be successful, you don't necessarily have to be a rote-worm. And the bureaucracy in the education system that has zeroed learning to roting in India is no surprise news I would presume. That was pointed out in the movie as a side point. I don't see why that's would be an issue. Its like saying, corruption should not be pointed out in a movie like Mudhalvan if the solution in the movie isn't realistic. Infact if this weren't true, we would have no movies to watch :)

Rancho had to be a character who has seen the lows of life - else he is an irresponsible rich friend. And of course the Rancho character is a highly dramatic extrapolation of a real-life possibility. But I see it commonly in many other accepted movies as pointed above.

I thought the movie was genuine and fun at the same time. I loved it!

Kana.S.D. said...

Didn't realize people see/observe too much into movies nowadays.I just want to be 'entertained' for 2 1/2 hours in a week to forget all the problems waiting for me outside once I step out of the movie theatre.sadly though,Saguni failed big time even to do that.3 Idiots on the other and,money well spent!

Murali said...

I love this post, Hawkeye.

In this FB generation, where you get to see happy-smiling friends at cool locations, we always assume survival is given.

When we hear only the success-stories of movie stars, narayana murthy's, sports stars etc, we fail to understand the skewness in the probability of such success and the % of such people who get to this stage.

Your post brings us back to reality.

Anonymous said...

hawkeye...seems you over analyze a Movie... whats the difference between a hero worship and this ..
Jus enjoy the movie.. watch if you like.. dont watch if you have complaints... why this Kolaveri of complicating things.. Nobody forces anyone to watch or follow... your thought process is right.. but blaming the movie is funny...

Anonymous said...

Great Reverse Engineering done on this movie. uncovered the hidden aspects.
Nice post!

The Raj said...

3 Idiots is not Aarakshan or some serious agenda-driven movie intended to dispense profound philosophies on how the education system has to be. It is a commercial mainstream movie that also does a light-hearted poke at rote learning and routine choices in education. Thats all.Caricaturization of characters is needed to a certain extent for comic relief. No wonder a guy like Shankar who makes mainstream masalas thought it fit to remake this movie.Because he understood that ultimately this was more fun and less preachy.

Anonymous said...

You make good points for a "rigid system" to guarantee a certain level of success for a country. It need not be at the cost of a "creative system" just as "3 idiots" need not have been at the cost of "rigid system".


Anonymous said...


You have missed the focal message conveyed in the movie, which is - don't just mindlessly memorize concepts without understanding them for the sake of scoring marks. This one point has been shown using many funny examples in the movie, one of which is the initial classroom scene where the teacher asks the class for the definition of 'machine' - Silencer spits out a lengthy memorized definition, which is appreciated by the teacher, as opposed to Rancho's explanation in simple terms - one which anyone can understand, but is frowned upon. Same deal with the Silencer speech. The message is clear - Strive - not just to succeed, but to excel.

This is clearly the case with most of the education system in India where students are taught from a very early age to memorize stuff and reproduce them in the exams, and if the wording is not correct, you lose marks. How many times have we memorized 'definitions' without really understanding them?

Agreed - the message has been conveyed in the usual cinematic fashion and the movie makers take many liberties in doing so - adding the parents' expectations, poor family pressure, follow your dreams etc to the mix for the sake of melodrama.

You seem to have interpreted the movie's intent way over than what it really is.

Anonymous said...

I did my schooling in a different country where they emphasize application rather than rote memorization. Yet I have to say that Indians perform better academically than people from my country.

This is my perspective, I might be wrong - someone else cannot memorize for you, you have to do the work. In other words, you know no one else can help you but you.In the other system of education where we are tested on the application questions, we are heavily dependent on the teacher to explain and spoon feed us. We form dependency from an early age in the form of tuition among other things.

What am trying to say is, whether Indians understand the meaning of what they're learning or not, they'd have learnt the skill to learn by themselves and based on an individual preference they can make an effort to understand what they're studying.

So it'd be fair to say that the system of education should have a nice blend of memorization and application type of questions in their exams.

I said...

People talking about the focal message and stuff; this idiotic movie is idiotic at multiple levels.

1. There is a 95-5 rule. 95% of all jobs are stupid jobs requiring limited skills and intelligence. 95% of all people are mediocre/just above. 5% of jobs and people are the exception. To do 95% of jobs and fill those jobs with 95% of people, the Indian/study-for-marks approach is more than enough. The risk is treating 100% of people with the 5% exceptional approach/method. Then 95% of people will turn out to be neither innovative nor employable. If someone is a real prodigy in the exceptional 5%, he will turn out good regardless of anything. Padikara paiyan enga irundhaalum padippan. The rest do not know how to dance and claim the koodam is not enough. I am giving myself the benefit of the doubt and assuming you fall in the 95%. As I am.

2. Even if one were to memorize things blindly and get pass mark, why is it so bad? Is it not better than failing? For people born in the early 80s/before that in West Mambalam/Madras/Tamil Nadu, education was the quickest way out of the warped world of the lower middle class and less about knowledge/interest. This motivation is every bit commendable as Ranchod Behanchod's.

3. At 16 years of age when one finishes 12th standard, typically he/she does not have enough perspective, information and knowledge to know what his real interests are; if it is even viable/advisable. Everyone wants to be an astronaut, work for NASA at 5 years of age. Then their preferences and priorities change. Following hormonal passions and thinking that's their true passion for the rest of life is misguided, more often than not.

4. When in school/college it is not always possible to understand everything you study because of limited perspectives, application, exposure, intelligence and time. Mugging up to pass an exam and to work around the above limitations is fine. You can understand them in re-recording years later if needed/interested. In a 6th standard math exam if you are asked to draw a straight line, you will have to draw a straight line parallel to the plane of the width of the exam paper. Arguing that even a vertical line is also a straight line, is cute but it is not realistic to continuously make such arguments. Pass all the exams you have to and you have all the time to draw and talk about straight lines as you please.

5. Anyone who has studied for an engineering degree will know that mugging up blindly will help you pass exams, may be some more but to get 1st/2nd rank you have to understand the concepts at least reasonably well. Since Aamir Khan is an uneducated elitist this is lost on him.

Anonymous said...


Looks like you were a big-time mugger-upper in school, as you so vehemently speak in favor of it.

The movie's message is simple - don't study just for the sake of scoring marks - try to gain knowledge in the process - learn something new every day. Don't be mediocre in a field that you are not passionate about, instead try to excel in what you are capable of.
Why is this so difficult to understand? Why should one over-interpret the movie's intent and make a big fuss about everything else besides what's been conveyed in the movie?

Anonymous said...

"Don't be mediocre in a field that you are not passionate about, instead try to excel in what you are capable of"

The risk involved in getting into a arts/humanities fields is way too high. Unless you are unexceptionally talented which also involves lots of luck in these fields, I don't see how one can succeed. If you just need a minimum wage, parents are financially not dependant on you and you're willing to live a mediocre life then yeah go for it.

When one is young they're damn enthusiastic to foray into a less traveled fields, but as they age the reality hits badly on their face.These days we are so connected through social media and it's almost impossible to ignore/compare yourself with others.

But you might say, so what... life is about challenges! Seriously, do you want to spend rest of your youth in a miserable situation. You might be in a secure job which you're not so passionate, but given some minor dissatisfaction/glitches, I don't think you'll ever fall into depression compared to being in a non secure field.

Having said all this, am someone who quit engineering to get into performing arts. I was so young back then and was impulsive. Everything fell into perspective when I started looking for job.

Coming back to the movie, it will work big time for college crowds. I have been there and done that. But that's not reality! If you're passionate about something and if it falls into a non-secure field, turn it into a hobby rather than a profession :-)

I said...

Anon: That message is wrong and misguided. Studying for job/marks is the first and a worthy motivation. Passions and interests can always be worked out later. There are far worse things than just mediocrity. My passion is to watch Raj TV movies all day. I am glad I didn't give into it.

To propagate such a lofty message and to appreciate it, is a luxury (of perspective, status, money etc.) not everyone can afford. Not presenting a valid counter-argument to this "message" makes it a worse movie than Bhagyaraj's Nyaanapazham. The fanboys of this one-dimensional, immature propaganda are probably losers who were neither smart nor industrious, and had 15 arrears in college, and now working in call-centers.

Anupadmaja said...

Passions don't always have to be boringly mind numbing like watching Raj TV. That only sounds cool - that doesn't sound passionate. The movie never showed a person good at what they do to go do something else just for recreation. It is pointing out failures specifically to say don't waste time being a loser - do what you are good at and start making money out of it.

By the way, your judgement that only losers talk about passion is wrong. I will let you search passionately on the internet for billionaires and millionaires who became so because they ran after their passion.

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Suresh said...

I liked the movie...period... It was entertaining. Now, if you want to analyze the portrayal of characters, yes, I agree that it was dramatized... but, the overall content was about doing something with understanding and passion...

That said, I always get confused when people mix passion with career. Yes, it works very well when both of them are one and the same. But, why should they be? I find it hard to believe that someone can be passionate about one thing at a very early life and spend their entire lifetime doing it, without getting bored... I would rather have a career in doing something that I don't hate and in spending my rest of the time doing things that I love, from time to time.. Be it photography/gardening/volunteering etc.,

mokka musketeer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mokka musketeer said...

Great post. This pseudo-intellect approach has become trendy.

When people say they just go to the movies for entertainment and not 'over-analyze', you are the reason for the industry to keep churning nonsensical movies. At least other masala-crappy movies didn't preach anything. This movie came in with the disguise of carrying a social message but actually pandered to the most targeted audience's taste.

For people who cared enough to defend their POV and see some logic in the movie; The very essence of the narrative built in the first half is ruined in the later part of the movie. According to the movie(at least in the first half), the system rewards mindless mugging up idiots who always ended being top-rankers. But later, Aamir Khan who was just interested in pure learning performing non-curricular experiments in the lab ended up securing the first rank at the end of 8 semesters.Shouldn't that mean the education system is perfect now(if the movie is adhering to its earlier complaint about the system)? Or was there a part explaining that after the interval the education system suddenly thirundhi-fied. Logic in a masala movie is not expected. But a movie claiming to be thought-provoking shouldn't cross those boundaries. How can a 5to6 pointer in the first half of engineering elevate his cumulative GPA to a class-topper level. At least the class topper effect could have been avoided if they were trying to make a point. At heart this movie is only a hero-worshiping masala movie where the defeated villain happens to be the education system.

Hawk Eye said...

I agree extremely with 'I' and mokka musketeer's comments.

to re-clarify. As stated in the first paragraph of the post this is not a review of 3-idiots the movie. It is a review of people who claim to espouse similar to the ones in that movie. So if you are looking for a direct 1-to-1 mapping or a review of the movie this is not it. People claim to hold these 'Americanized" views about education system and I have strong disagreements with it. They fall into the 4 buckets outlined. claiming that i have over analyzed the movie is sort of not true because i am not reviewing the movie here at all.

taking cinematic liberties is totally okay in movies and especialy in masala movies. People dont derive 'real-life' meanings from polladhavan. in 3-idiots the fact is many people claim 'all is well' to mean many many things. theyve taken it to heart and really get influenced. This is differentf from Mudhalvan which dealt with a slightly more black and white topic. 3-idiots intentionally misleads people and does not deserve the pedestal that it has been bestowed.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with #1 from I's latest argument. The point is if you were to turn the education system where the focus is NOT on marks, you would have at least 90% of students chasing dreams like how dogs chase you on the road.

If you have to pay your bills and live a comfortable life - which is generally the financial goal of anyone's life you ought to have aimed for good marks for the market that offers you the job cannot judge you by your passion to do things right away. I was not a mug-up-and vomit type nor my marks were great but i increasingly have faith in that idea that there is absolutely no reason to discredit it.

The only factor i would add is to make sure there is some amount of involvement in the class in making the student curious about what you teach - rather than make him indulge by a rule. The exact subjects that i hated in school are the ones i read by searching Wikipedia today.

3 idiots was pointless in the simple fact that it shifted the focus of reasoning with the student and not with the teacher. as Hawkeye says there are some problems with the education system only in the name on "indulgence" level created by the teaching env.

If you are that 5% you would do it anyway as I pointed out. No school ever stopped you and in fact nurture it these days. Marks are important no matter what.

It by simple means tells your ability to keep something in mind and reproduce it. Std 1-12, they are not yet open for reasoning but to KNOW. Once you know you start reasoning later.

for strange reasons A r rahman made it clear in an interview that parental pressure on education is completely necessary until the child is matured enough to see if there is something he can do.You need the basic level of education in the system that makes you mug up things before you start deciding yourselves. Take it from a man who himself was not that.

Anonymous said...

All your comments about the movie misleading students would be valid if the students in question were very young and still in grade school.

But the movie is about students in one of the leading engineering colleges in the country, and at that level and age, a certain responsibility and interest in the curriculum is necessary. If the focus were only on scoring marks and mindless mugging-up even at that stage - while striving for a professional career that sets you up for the future, it only produces bad/mediocre engineers. Take it from me, who has been there, done that. I was not really interested in engineering, but joined an engineering college because of pressure from parents. Never really cared to understand basic concepts and apply them to solve problems, but rather just mugged-up stuff for the sake of scoring marks. Reality hit me when I came to the US to do my masters, and I struggled to cope, due to a lack of understanding the concepts.

The movie cannot be dismissed as a bad movie altogether. It did provide a good message for people like me, and I certainly am not misled because of the movie.

D.N.A. said...

Hawk saar,

I'm understanding your post & subsequent comments as follows: It is not a criticism of the movie but more a criticism of people who subscribe to a particular interpretation (woes of current Indian educational system - parents, students, teachers, institutions & curriculum) of the movie. You are pointing to the dangers of such specific "take aways" and how it soft pedals the real benefits of the system (economic benefits, generational upliftment etc.).

Your main crux (as well as "I"'s) is that there are unintended consequences to subscribe to "particular interpretations" as it might lead to economic failures. By the same token, one can also say there are unintended consequences to subscribe to ONLY "real benefits" of the current system at the expense of intellectual pursuits, right?

My personal view: This education system served its purpose to people of my socio-economic background. As a parent, I'm conflicted if I should let my kids also go through the same rigamarole or set them up to be able to take a calculated risk in pursuing their interests. Safe bet is the former (or is it really?). But my own "search" makes me think I owe it to my kids some additional options. I consider that a better metric of generational improvement.

(Disclaimer like one of those drug ads: I'm indifferent to the movie and more interested in your rationale)

austrian said...

Hawkeye, I,

Specifically to I's argument about 95-5 rule and hawkeye's extreme agreement to that remark:

Here's a blog post worth considering: Believe in yourself for my benefit.

I get the argument from a realistic point of view, but if everybody thought that way -- then society will be stagnant.

I like sr's comment above in that 3 idiots may be the extreme of pie-in-the-sky while bashing the rigid system a lot and hawkeye's post restores some balance. But I don't think an entirely rigid system is beneficial either, as it would sacrifice creativity in the process.

Anonymous said...

People like to believe that they are not inherently mediocre but unable to "pursue their dreams" because of the system that's loaded against "creative" types. Since they are unwilling to move their asses and bring even the slightest change in their lives, due to "commitments," they end up rooting for such movies. Just to feel good.

The Raj said...

"But my own "search" makes me think I owe it to my kids some additional options. I consider that a better metric of generational improvement.


DNA, what are those options in India for your kids? The moment you put your kids in a school there you have already limited your options

The Raj said...

The movie just presented an idealistic viewpoint, thats all. Its a feel good mainstream movie like I said earlier. I am not sure if 18-something kids these days would watch the movie and be "misled" by it and immediately quit on their engineering courses and join a wildlife photography course or a painting course. They are smarter than that. The movie just preys upon the common angst among college students, many of whom would have at some point loathed the mindless mugging and by-the-books approach and longed for something that indulges their mind. The rote learning makes even the teachers irrelevant. No wonder you have bad teachers all around. For the present system such standards of teaching are enough. It propogates in a vicious cycle.
The comparison to Mudhalvan is not totally off. Mudhalvan also builds upon the middle class fantasy of a lieterate, honest, ordinary man from one amongst them running the state. It preys on their angst.However no one looks at the movie as offering some practical solution.It is just fantasy fulfillment, much like 3 Idiots.

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Vishnu Prasad said...

You have missed the point. By a mile. Fortunately for me, Ms. Anupadmaja has already articulated what the movie is essentially all about. Btw, you should watch the movie again. :)