Newtons Second Law

So do you remember it…… Think hard.

A little more. If you can’t remember, I am really happy. I know this is a little bit of sadistic pleasure but ya still it is.

I was trying to find admission in a good school after completing my 10th in Lucknow . The first choice was to study in ST Francis. I collected all my certificates and went to the school and tried to talk the principal to issue me an application form. But that was precisely the issue. I had to talk to the principal and principal will talk only English something which was certainly not my strong point. Anyway my 37 second chat with the guy was enough to convince him that I won’t fit the bill. Anyway at that age, you have a lesser ego and you take such things in your stride and move on.

My next destination Colvin Taluqdars School. That school use to be a reputed school at that point. My friends tell me that it has lost that reputation now.  This place was more friendly for HMT ( Hindi Medium Type ) people like me. I thought this might be my chance to make it big. I was not the genius types but certainly had done some hard work on at least Maths and Physics.  So the interviewer asks me the simplest of Physics questions after the usual inquiries about my possible connections with Birla family. What is newton’s second law ? Oh boy, it can’t get simpler than that. But my memory failed me at the moment I needed it most. I knew all the laws and fundas and formulas around it but forgot which one was second. I was straightforward enough to accept that in front of the interviewer. I told him that I knew all the fundas and all the laws but don’t remember which one is second. It did not take him much time to kick me out.

Now when I look back, these experiences outline few of the fundamental flaws in our education system. The first one being over emphasis on languages and specially english. Nothing against any language in particular but let us get it clear, language is a means, not the end. Memorization unfortunately has been such an integral part of growing up for so many people that they have never tried to understand what they have memorized.

Having cribbed about the education system, I am just glad that I am out of it now and now I can focus more on learning in real environments instead of education. Learning is more important the education 🙂


  1. I cant believe how closely your thoughts abt the education system mirror my own… agree completely with you. Indian Education system, by and large, focusses on rewarding memorization ability, and creates an elitist society based on language.

    Ideally education should teach you how to learn. And focus on character building too. It is going to be an enormous task for Kapil Sibal to rationalize this system, but I sincerely hope he makes a start.

  2. I was having a discussion on FB with and here are some tit bits you might enjoy.

    I work in Academia and with the roles of teacher and researcher. I understand where your frustration towards education system is coming from. I was going through the same system while growing up. The education system has been evolving since our times too…not sure if they would still meet your expectations 😛
    Instead of making it a long rant, I would say I am glad that I am part of the education system that has a huge responsibility of shaping the new generation and have the opportunity to change what was frustrating for me 🙂

    I have huge respect for our education system but there are some issues which might need to be sorted out. And the two points I was making was regarding the difference between memory vs intelligence and means vs end.

    This is a problem I have seen in industry as well. In some of the companies I have worked with some interviewers are so focused on matching the candidates answer with their own answer that they forget that somebody might have better ideas. In software also I see lot of people just crazy about language and platforms that they forget that the fundamental understanding of algorithms, architecture and business purpose.

    On the current styles of teaching, I have seen great improvements in places where my kids have studied. My kids studied in play school called Magic Puddles which is run by some ex-Infoscions passionate about teaching. They always follow a very practical approach instead of the traditional memory techniques.
    With information access and retrieval becoming lesser issue in modern times, I guess we can get the focus back on intelligence and innovative ways of using it compared to memorizing it.

    @Birla: I have similar observations regarding my own research work, classes as well as other people (who are regarded as much better teacher than I am)…we are shifting from memorization-regurgitation to learning-analyzing type lectures and exams…hopefully, there will be some visible evidencefor it in real world with time.

  3. Very intriguing… I would really appreciate an opportunity sometime to listen to some of the things that Mr Tyagi would’ve learnt in the course of his work…

  4. Ashish

    Current education system in India is actually a legacy left by the British. It served the purpose, and was probably just fine, when it was introduced couple of centuries back, to raise an army of clerks to work for ‘Raj’. Problem is that it has not evolved with time.

    Also all this experimentation done by the HRD ministry in successive governments, will take our education system back in time. Higher education used as vehicle of social engineering and benevolence is just regretful.

    Also I would add, that it is not just the education system in India which has issues. In US, ‘the’ most developed country, education system is also suffering due to their lacunae.Obama is now on mission to change it to compete ‘India and China’. I guess this should make us feel little better.

  5. One thing positive about the Indian education system is that there are enough parents ( and even kids ) who think it is important. One of the reason is that economic situation of educated people and uneducated people have big delta ( unless you get into politics ).

    I agree that the colonial roots of education is something which needs a shake.

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