for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Of students using guide books…

The use of Guide Books opened another shortcut leading to a plunge in the quality of education.

The advent of modern schools was welcomed by the isolated kingdom of Bhutan. The long journey of education has brought about remarkable changes to the nation. However, in the midst of all these fine words, Bhutan talks of a deteriorating quality of education. Stakeholders point fingers at each other. Teachers have become the most used scapegoats and curriculum too is considered a reason.  Who is actually responsible? Guide books lay hidden within the students and some teachers but the use of guide books is also responsible for the decline in the quality.
As an educator, I am of the view that everyone is responsible. Be it an engineer or a farmer, we are all equally responsible. Teachers along with educational offices, is equally responsible, and students too.  The society is answerable. An engineer does not go to a classroom to teach but he can be a parent of a student and he has a duty for his child’s education. A teacher’s duty is the clearest of all. Moreover, policy makers are also directly associated with the system. There are curriculum changes that affect the quality of education and so does the system hold some liability. Coming to the agent alias affected side-the students: they hold great answers within themselves. They know the most correct answer and they even possess the magic potion to rectify the problem.
In addition to these, the use of Guide Books opened another shortcut leading to a plunge in the quality of education. Guide books have taken their own journey from solved common examination papers in the early days to summary of a novel or subject- wise guides. Some guide books are written like text books but with inadequate answers.  I am of no value to comment on the actualities of using guide books but as far as a teacher is concerned, the guides are pure symbols of destruction- of students’ genuine learning.  Guide books offer many disadvantages in the learning cycle. One reason is proven through various researches whereby it is found out that the use of guide books lower the student’s usage of his/her own effort in learning. Another basis is that guide books are filled with solved questions which bar the student’s exploring stage and students know the answer but in short of their own thoughts. The other reason, for guide books to be useless, is that guide books are very poor in terms of content as well as language usage. 
Although guide books are totally discouraged in Bhutanese schools, we see our students owning various cheap, obsolete and error- rich guide books.  Guide books are rarely blamed for their content and they are not seen as an ineffectual stuff by parents and students thereby making it flourish alongside the standard school text books.  The use of guide books in Bhutan usually hits the highest bar amongst Class X and XII students.  Science and Geography guide books are the most used guides by Bhutanese students. Further, the availability and abundance of guide books make it easier for students to grab their copy.
 Writing of guide books has become an easy way to mint money. Writers do great as students worship guide books more than their text books. Every person with little knowledge on the subject has become a writer and the most comical thing is that all guide books are registered with an ISBN (International Standard Book Number).  I wonder how the system of ISBN is worked out but I am pretty sure that a minimum standard should be maintained in order to achieve one. Some guide books are so poor that even the simplest of grammar is not correct. The content is also full of errors. The answers in these books limit the student’s intelligence to look beyond. It is true that guides work out as an easy way for students to score in their exams though they have learnt very less for their life.
As a teacher, we discourage students from using a guide book but we fight a losing battle here. The reason is simple-students love direct readymade answers and writers with publishers find it irresistible to make money through guide books. This is a juncture where everyone should intervene- a parent should not let his child go for guide books; a teacher must make a policy No Guide books; Concerned offices should check the publication and sale of guide books; Students must try to learn for life and not merely for exams; and of all, Writers and publishers must think twice before bringing out a colorful yet futile book which will have more drawbacks than rewards.

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