'Techniques' don't help at IITs, 'Fundamentals' do
A majority of students crack IIT-JEE by learning techniques & tricks at coaching centres to solve a pattern of questions, but those do not help them in the long run. A recent survey conducted by IIT Kharagpur suggests this practice does not help in understanding the subjects at IITs and at least 10% of the freshers at the institute can't even follow class lecturers.
According to professors, many students stretch themselves to the maximum and burn out by the time they step into the IITs. Of 10,000 students entering the IITs, only the first 1,000 rank-holders are a little different, feel teachers. "They are really brilliant and have their fundamentals clear. It isn't difficult teaching them. The problem is with the rest. Some of them just stare at us blankly since they don't follow what is being taught. These are products of coaching institutes who can absorb no more," said Siddhartha Sen, a senior faculty member at IIT Kgp.
Faculty members feel the way coaching institutes flog students to deliver is completely faulty. "Day-in and day-out, you are taught certain techniques to arrive at the right answers. I call this nothing but a trick. Such tricks do not help students in serious studies that involve their capacity to analyse," said GP Rajashekhar, a senior maths faculty member, IIT Kgp.
Rajasekhar cited the instance of his own nephew in Vizag, who has started attending an "IIT foundation" coaching class from class IX onwards and practices IITJEE questions for at least five hours a day. "After so much practice, they know by instinct which answer is right in a multiple-choice question. But give them to solve a mathematical problem step by step, they will fail to do it," quipped Rajashekhar.
Faculty members said it becomes impossible for most students to understand class lectures since their basics about physics, chemistry and maths of the plus two level were not clear. "We just cannot go down to that level and teach. Naturally, frustration creeps into the students, the first step towards depression. At least 10% students start off by failing," said I Sen, faculty member of the computer science and electronics engineering department.
Abolition of subjective test to blame...?
Many blame the present multiple-choice question pattern for the plight of the IIT students. "Till a few years back, students had to get their fundamentals right to attempt a question because ticking the right answer was not enough. All that the coaching centres do now is teach students a method of elimination and make them memorize formulae so that they are able to, by instinct, tick on the right answer," said director of the institute, Damodar Acharya. In the process, their reasoning skills go for a toss and students perform miserably in mechanics, mathematics and electronic technology -three compulsory subjects in the first year.
Most students don't belong to the IITs!
Psychologists at the institute say at least 50% students do not have any knack for engineering and they have landed in an IIT to fulfill parents' dreams. "There is no denying that they are bright students, but they are in a situation where they will be forced to study an advanced engineering for which they don't have the aptitude. It's one thing to take science at the plus two level while it's a completely different thing to study engineering at IIT, if you don't like it," said Sangeeta Das Bhattacharya, doctor and faculty coordinator at the institute's School of Medical Science and Technology.
In most cases, psychologists are trying to listen to students' problems and address them. "We are telling them that all is not lost even if they have a backlog of papers to clear. IIT-Kgp offers a maximum of eight years to every student to clear all the papers and if they try hard enough, they will certainly succeed," said a counsellor.