PROPAGATION OF ERRORS

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While doing a science experiment, a scientist needs to account for errors (that range from errors in her device to errors in her methodology). Through the course of her calculations, these errors propagate leading to a final error estimate in the result. Depending on the calculation she is doing, a small error in a measurement can lead to a huge error in the result. Today, however, I won’t be talking about how these errors propagate in science. I’ll instead be reflecting on the journey of unchecked errors in our education systems, specifically the Indian education system.

The Indian education system has its flaws. I won’t even start on reservations and donations and the like. I know these topics are accompanied by heated debates and well-thought out arguments from both sides. So I’m going to be talking about the flaw that causes me to completely lose my mind: this system’s lackadaisical attitude towards cheating. I find the lack of discussion on this topic inexplicable and everyone’s neutral stance on it even more baffling. Cheating has just become another thing that we do. We’ve become so accustomed to students using “unfair means” during tests, and teachers turning a blind eye (or being helpless), that a story about the massive scale of cheating in our education system would be predictable and hence, boring. I understand that topics such as reservation are debatable and so the Government can take a firm stand on them only after extensive discussions. But why don’t we have effective strategies to deal with cases of cheating (which everyone agrees is wrong*)?

When I rant about these issues to friends and/or family, I usually get a sympathetic nod and a consoling “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter if other people cheat.” But the fact is, it does. This unchecked error, propagates through our system, through our society and finally through our government escalating at each step. And since, I enjoy making lists and flowcharts, here’s a flowchart – in the form of a list.

Propagation of an Error:

  1. There is no punishment for cheating. Even if there is, it’s hardly ever executed.
  2. Students get away with cheating on everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything from assignments to actual exams.
  3. A mindset based on getting things done the easier way develops. Even if that way is wrong
  4. The people who do study see no point in doing so, since they can actually score the same or even better by cheating.
  5. As more and more people drown in this enticing, life-simplifying mess, there is less and less inclination to fix things. Because a) there is no reward for honesty and b) there is little punishment for dishonesty.
  6. An indifferent attitude develops towards cheating that feeds back into this vicious cycle.

I should mention that this attitude of getting things done the easier way is one of the reasons for widespread corruption in this country. Secondly, as the fear of consequences of any wrongdoing decreases, said wrongdoing increases.

The conclusions that I have drawn here might seem exaggerated but when you look around and see people achieving better things more easily, you do start to question the point of all of your hard work.

I agree that there might be long-term rewards of honesty, but since there are little to no long term consequences of dishonesty (in the Indian education system at least), the situation seems dire.

*At least I hope so.  

That’s all for now though I have a whole lot of other things to say on this issue. But it’s A-Z and so short posts! If you have any opinions on this, comment below! Tell me about the education system in your country. Or just say hi! and leave a link to your blog. See ya tomorrow!

 

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4 thoughts on “PROPAGATION OF ERRORS

  1. When I taught in Thailand that is how it was also. The students seemed to think that cheating was “helping” their classmates! It was the culture in most cases that it was fine to cheat, because you had to get good grades by any means possible. I think that they had just become immune to the fact that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I have students that I have to remind during tests not to look at their friends’ paper. It makes me sad, because I just think that if we all were just confident in our own abilities then we wouldn’t feel the need to cheat, right? We would just be okay with who we were. Unfortunately there is so much pressure to be better than everyone else!

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  2. I believe that the rootcause of cheating in our school systems lies with inappropriate curricula and examinations. Change the practices and the cheating should naturally diminish. Our instructional philosophies are short sighted. Changing that will curb this problem.

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