Rigidity of institutions vs. rigour of discipline

It would sound difficult to believe but I was giving this “bhashan” to someone in my dream one of these days. Mostly my dreams are absurd, but this seemed to make sense even after waking up. So, I thought I’d just jot this thought down. Of course, I do not remember anything else from the dream – so it does not have much of context.

We have educational institutions and we have individual disciplines of education. The problem in our (Indian) system is that we are very rigid at institutional level – you decide or end up in a particular discipline and then you are stuck. The institution will not allow much of switching. Probably as a result of this, the rigour individual discipline can impose suffers. When the students don’t have much of a choice at the institutional level, the disciplines have to accommodate. So, the rigour they impose becomes less. You end up graduating in a certain discipline, when you understanding and knowledge is just not good enough.

The rigidity of institutions comes not only from the rules of the institutions, but also from the narrow point of view society takes with respect to disciplines. The point of view that put the various disciplines in a strict hierarchy and hence your family is happier at your being a mediocre engineer, but won’t give you a chance to come an extra-ordinary historian. So, even if institutional rules would allow you to have some flexibility, this societal pressure won’t. Overall, due to a combination of formal rules and informal society norms, we have rigid institutions.

Won’t it be nice to be able to replace it with a system where institutions are flexible, but disciplines are rigorous. Where you can experiment with and switch disciplines, but once you graduate in a discipline you have a level of understanding you can be proud of?

One of my friends is taking up a job at IISER Pune where she will be teaching and researching. These institutes are the result of a relatively new initiative by Govt. of India and MHRD to promote quality Science education. Unlike IITs, it seems that the departments of the students are not decided from the beginning. That sounds like a promising thing, even though the choices are still limited to only to Sciences. We might see more flexibility in the days ahead in our educational institutes. Let’s hope so!

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started Pothi.com, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe (http://instascribe.com) with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: https://jayajha.wordpress.com Twitter: @jayajha Facebook: http://facebook.com/MovingOnTheBook

5 thoughts on “Rigidity of institutions vs. rigour of discipline

  1. “The point of view that put the various disciplines in a strict hierarchy and hence your family is happier at your being a mediocre engineer, but won’t give you a chance to come an extra-ordinary historian.” — A thought resonated in each mind. Middle Class upbringing comes with package of high expectaions and responsibility…

  2. What u see in dreams is real person inside , thats inner soul . It might not be done practicaly done but we can achiev it with at least 90% efficiency. Even I have the similar expirience in past which I am able to do now.

  3. Did you have this dream after watching 3 idiots? In fact the interesting part that you missed mentioning about the movie was Rancho saying he did his schooling by going to whatever class he liked. Maybe that was the secret of his super human abilities 🙂

  4. I dont want to sound pessimestic here but i think the attitude of society for preference of certain discpline is partly because of the past economic policies of our country,back in 60 70’s we had a vison of an industrial growth oriented india and private sector /service sector was only allowed to operate under strict government regulation,so engineers ,docters and other government services were at top of social pride ,adding on to that was huge expection of family for to student to be there bread earner and epitome of their social repute, but now luckly , after 1991 economic policy change things are changing and newer genaration is leading buy example ,buy having success in other carrears too

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