A rather strange notion that I came across a few days back was that  educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed. An argument like this at first glance seems absolutely authoritarian, and too intrusive for the students. However, a more patient and careful analysis does portray the merits of this approach and I am in firm agreement with this statement.

I believe that understanding one’s potential and capabilities is central to education. For an educational institution to have successfully completed its task it is important that its students be able to realize what their strengths and weaknesses are; and base their future decisions on this realization. In this light, it is completely justified for an educational institution to try to dissuade students from pursuing fields to which they might not be intuitively suited.

Through prolonged interaction with students, the institution is completely capable of gathering enough information through various mediums about the student to be able to grade the students capability in a particular field. Even now, this type of grading is done, albeit on a small scale and with different parameters, say just in one class of forty to hundred students, rankings are provided according to their performance in academics. Some might say that this is somewhat unfair because every student might individually be good at one specific field and not so good at the other. This is addressed to some extent if the students are evaluated on the basis of whether they are suitable for pursuing a career in that particular stream or not. In this scenario the institution plays an even more integral role in a child’s development by helping him/her make the correct career choice rather than simply awarding him a specific grade and letting him/her drift off.

A major bone of contention for the student community might be that the freedom of students to choose their path in life will be encroached upon. However, what should not be ignored is the fact that the institution will only dissuade and not prohibit the student from pursuing a particular field. This will amount to some kind of a recommendation or notice to the student that then leaves the decision to the individuals themselves. Therefore, this does not in any way compromise the right to choose and the basic right of freedom of the individual.  Moreover, it gives the student an expert opinion about his capacity to succeed in a particular field with his current level of preparation. In theory, this is completely acceptable, rather, this is extremely beneficial for students.

It might be difficult for the level of expertise required for this evaluation to be made available at institute level. This shall serve as a very crucial step in a student’s life because the institutions response will have a huge psychological impact on the student, if not anything else, and thus, there can be no room for error at this stage. Therefore, this step will lead to some precarious situations and it must be handled sensitively. However, in the long run, this step will be a highly useful one because, a lot of students who follow others into a stream just because of the rat race and peer pressure, will now be formally warned and their strengths presented to them thus enabling them to make a more informed decision.

Concerns might be raised about the fact that since every individual student is unique in his or her own way, some students might be late bloomers and might not be correctly graded. This concern is valid and the system needs to be setup in a manner to be able to account for this variation. Such concerns and discrepancies will exist in any model that is applied to govern a mass population.

This should be regulated in such a manner as to ensure that the students are first given ample opportunity to explore the field on their own, and after a certain period as deemed fit by the societal norms, an evaluation be prepared for them clearly outlining their strengths and weaknesses. This will strengthen the confidence of students in the stream which they finally end up pursuing. Also, it will produce individuals with the right set of skills entering the right field of life and will ensure overall progress of the society as a whole.

Do tell, what you think about this.


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