Monday, 28 June 2010

Politics and education.

The govt. of AP had decided that all students from backward communities will not pay fees to colleges. This applies to profesional colleges and to colleges conducting PG courses. The govt. had promised to pay the colleges the fees for these students. They all got admitted, but now the govt. has no money. The colleges are protesting. Most private colleges are self-financed -- that means, they pay salaries to faculty and non teaching staff, to buy equipment and consumables, maintain college buildings, everything with the money they collect as fees from students. Now more than half the students have not paid fees. The income for these colleges has become half or less. So the college managements threatened to close the colleges. There was a hue and cry about this and the CM had insisted they open. But how will they pay the staff? how will they buy consumables?
The problem is that the late YSR made this promise, but the state exchequer is empty. The current CM is in a fix...damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Stressful coaching classes

There is real evidence that the stress is specially bad for adolescents.
We send our children to coaching classes where they are constantly pushed all through their adolescence. The ill effects of coaching is not just psychological, it is biological and biochemical.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Fees for coaching

Yesterday I was trying to explain how an acid-base indicator works to my students. To explain colour perception, I asked "If you mix 10 drops of red ink and 10 drops of blue ink in a beaker of water, what colour will the solution be?" The answers were --- black, brown, green. Why do I even bother? Now you understand why I complain about coaching classes. When you join a coaching class, you have to deposit your common sense and common knowledge at the fees counter.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Essay writing

"Composition is the first lesson for Chinese to learn about telling lies," Han Han, a renowned writer and blogger, was quoted by Global Times.
Chinese students, as many in India, must write compositions exactly as per format in order to get good marks. Well, we all have heard this by now. But the reason is what surprises me. [ To stop them from making up stories, they should be encouraged to think more and experience more," she said.]
You experience more if you follow the straight and narrow path of essay writing-as-per-format???

Friday, 11 June 2010

continued..

The 'fundamental flaw' in our BSc courses is that it is neither fish nor fowl. I am repeating myself here. It is neither rigorous enough to cater to the would-be scientist, nor is it down-to-earth enough to give the students practical usable skills.
A graduate with a BSc in electronics cannot repair (let alone design) a cd player, someone with a BSc Chemistry cannot measure the pH of water in a pond.
There have been some proposals two years ago to address this, but nothing has happened on ground as far as I can see.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

jobless?

Another academic year begins.
Students are still not very keen on joining for a BSc in life science subjects as seen by the fact that very few have applied for seats in our college for a life science course.
The reason is that a large number of Pharmacy colleges have opened in the last two years in AP.
Students (their parents more likely) prefer to get a BPharm degree to getting a BSc degree. The perception is that job opportunities are much more likely for a person with a BPharm.
Secondly, what does one do with a BSc? Do an MSc? Ok then what?Ummm....well, maybe a PhD? how many years is that? well....maybe 9 or 10 for the whole process....WHAT?
I don't blame them really, but it may mean we are out of a job in the next couple of years .....

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

School ethos

I studied for a while in one of those posh schools in the hills. Those days, they were run by British women missionaries. I joined in the 8th class . It was a boarding school, and all the girls were issued pocket money and stationery every Saturday. After one month, one Saturday, the class was made to give me round of applause. Why? Because I had consumed the least amount of stationery that month. I did not lose my pencil or eraser, did not spill my ink, did not waste my notebook pages...
Now that's a kind of achievement anyone, howsoever lacking in talent, can aspire to. It led me to achievements in academics. It also made a virtue of frugality.
Schools nowadays...at least the coaching-class kind, have no avenues for children to achieve in real terms. That's why those who do not get into a medical college/IIT are left with such deep emptiness...that a 18 year old should NEVER have to deal with. Such emptiness that comes with maybe losing ones parents or similar tragedy, these children face for no real reason.
We are producing tragedies out of happiness.....take a happy 13 year old, put him through 6 years of coaching - produce a deeply unhappy young man. A great recipe for a dysfunctional society!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

R-H vortex

Some years back, I first came across an amazing phenomenon -- the Ranque Hilsch vortex. My physics is below pathetic level, but this concept I find really exciting.

An example they give for entropy and time in any video lecture...water poured out of a glass and water going back into the glass...
For a bath, I mix a bit of steaming hot water with some cold water....if I could reverse the process and get a little hot water and a little cold water from tepid water, how amazing that would be!
That's how this phenomenon is. It's amazing. Of course it's not the same, but the result says that's what has happened doesn't it?
I have seen that it is used for spot cooling but never for larger volumes.
Is it truly not possible to do this on larger scale to have eco friendly air conditioning? or is it just that no one has tried it out yet?