We don’t want students to be bookworms. We want them to have soft-skills, to be able to have emotions, to be able to relate and interact with other people, to be able to communicate and express themselves.
We don’t want students to merely study for exams. We want them to contribute to the community to uplift the lives of the poor and the unfortunate. We want them to have high moral values and ethics. We don’t want them to be mere followers. We want them to lead and innovate and think of new ways and new ideas to improve the world we live in.
We want them to do so many things other than study in the classroom or their bedrooms.
That we know. Learning within and beyond the classroom. Learning not merely to be an expert in technical know-how or a storehouse of knowledge but learning to be wholesome people.
How many students believe in that? Probably just a few. Not many.
But the critical question is, how are we going about doing it?
We encourage them to do projects. Every course (OK, not every course, most) have projects. Every society must have at least 8 projects every year. The hostels have projects. Co-curriculum have projects. Sports have projects. There are thousands of projects every year. Yes, I’m sure they learn many things.
How do you get the numbers? I.e. How do you do, compel, cajole, pester, induce or more generally persuade students to take part? You give them what USM calls MyCSD points (other universities call them merit points). Get points, get to stay in the hostel. No point, get out, even if there are vacancies (I know this for a fact).
It’s a disease. Participate or perish. What has it created? A monster. They do it not for the love of doing it. They want minimum output. 2 or 3 hours tops. Get the 2 or 3 points faster. Then go back to the books. Or games. Or Facebook. I have encountered students who just want to collect certificates of participation. The first thing or second thing, they ask, “will you give me a certificate if I do this for you?”. Sure, why not.
This is not to say that there isn’t any student or projects or society who are making the right moves. The point is that the overwhelming majority are just being mechanical (or robotic) about it – do it just to get the points. Or perhaps for an accolade some time in the future. It just does not produce the wholesome people we hope for.
Can we do things without getting merit or brownie points?
This article originally posted @ The Whole-Listic Student, by Prof Lee Lik Meng, 10 Jan 2011.