As part of my interest in high school education, I have been checking out prescribed textbooks in Indian schools. Take for instance the Science and Technology textbook for the 10th grade. The book that I am examining is published by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Written by thirteen authors and six editors, it is a volume of about 230 pages. The foreword first:
During the last ten to fifteen years, there has been a tremendous advancement in Science and Technology, which has affected the quality of human life to a great extent. The future citizens of the country can reap the fruits of this advancement if they are conversant with different aspects of Science and Technology (sic) . . .
I spent some time looking through the book. It is distressing to see the awful quality of the book. The subjects are totally unmotivated and lack coherence. The matter is dry and in some places actually wrong.
It purports to be a book about science and technology. Nowhere do they even ever try to distinguish between the two. In the section called “Evolution,” it even gets the basic fact about Darwin’s contribution to evolution wrong. I cannot actually do a full review of the book because it is too depressing for me. But I have confirmed my suspicion that it is the poor quality of the teaching material that is partly to blame for the dismal quality of our educational system. Of course, lousy teaching just compounds the problem.
I am working on figuring out a better way of delivering education. I have written a bit about it on this blog. More to come later. But before I go, I cannot resist the temptation to point out some unintended humor in this rather tragic subject. The science text book for grade six is called “Science Ahead.” The authors are Anton Siromani and Vandana Tirath both of Delhi Public School, and E Doris James of Sacred Heart High School in Chennai. I mention these worthies by name deliberately.
Right in the start of the book, they have a page titled “Famous Scientists.” The page has a dozen or so pictures of notables of scientists from around the world. They are, in the order of their appearance on the page, JC Bose, CV Raman, Homi Bhabha, —–, Archimedes, Galileo Galilee, Issac Newton, Michael Faraday, Madame Curie, Albert Einstein, Alexander Fleming. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to fill in the blank Indian world-class scientist.
Post Script: Here is the answer to the missing scientist.