The Alma Mater cracks its whip

If you are from IITM, you’ll probably know about this. I only know of it from smail. Some fifteen people have been punished by what is called the Discipline and Student Welfare Sub-committee of IITM’s Senate.

13 of these people were given ‘W’ grades for marking attendance for somebody else. The other two morons were given ‘U’ grades for copying in some examination. One of these two idiots is not only a repeat offender, but has also gotten caught more than once. So, not only is he stupid enough to think that copying in an examination is the way to do it, he’s also stupid enough to get caught. Twice. Makes you want to ask how on Earth he got into IITM, doesn’t it?

Normally in these situations, as is what usually happens with most things in India, the offenders are told to apologize, sometimes in writing, and told very nicely never to do this again, and sent away with no record of any of it. Most people with a bent to cheat pick up on the fact that the administration will never do anything. This, it seems to me, is a change for the better… As long as the fellows who are being punished were allowed to defend themselves.

I don’t, however, like this ‘ ‘W’ for mischief relating to attendance, ‘U’ for mischief in an examination’ policy. It sounds too much like ‘An eye for an eye’ for my liking. Getting a W means that you have to sit through classes of the course again; Getting a U means that you only have to write the exam again. I don’t think the fact that a W goes (semantically) with attendance, and a U with performance in the exam makes this fair punishment. Copying is a much more serious offence than proxy attendance.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of why there’s an attendance rule in the first place. If the student can do better on his own, where’s the harm in letting him? The problem is that most professors don’t want to fail students. Sometimes because they think it is too harsh. Sometimes, perhaps, because just passing everybody is far easier than to fail someone and have to defend your decision. They’d rather do something else with their time. And, therefore, there’s the risk that students who know nothing will get through courses without having attended classes, or learning anything.

The solution would’ve been to ask professors to take teaching and evaluation more seriously. Enforcing an attendance rule is a stupid way of handling the problem.

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16 thoughts on “The Alma Mater cracks its whip”

  1. This is the situation in India. Some dudes copy in a stupid exam, which is a flawed concept in the first place and now we have another idiotic dumbhead writing a blog post about this like he knows what hes talking about.

  2. @anonymous coward, I write here because I have nothing better to do. On the other hand, I’ve written a hundred tests and exams in my time, and have a stake in what my alma mater does. What’s your excuse?

    Oh, and if we’re calling tests and examinations a flawed concept, should we also take turns suggesting alternatives? I’ll go first… Oh, wait.

  3. Duuuudee.. some dudes copy in an exam dude. I totally understand. Exams ARE a flawed concept.. wait for it.. dude. My astrologer’s parrot told me so.

    What gets me even more riled up are these idiotic dumbheads.. why are there so few people in the world with smarter heads.

    We should also do away with people.. then there won’t be any diseases.

  4. Wow! Theres a whole bunch of u guys. I see that i have touched a nerve here. You people are just justifying all those “hundred tests and exams in my time”. I hope you are happy in your own world!

  5. Dude! You came back! Now I’ll have to put up a wall of shame.

    I still don’t see you suggesting an alternative. Come on, shake that noggin a little. It’s just rusty, I tell ya. Maybe you should write an exam to get it up and running again.

  6. @Croor It’s not a noggin. It’s a superfreakinggeniushead – as opposed to our dumbheads.

    @Dude We can’t help it – we lesser beings need to write exams. We don’t have the power of sheer awesomeness that you clearly possess in such abundance.

  7. Ouch! 🙂

    I think the best that can be said for the anonymous coward’s argument is that there may be people for whom examinations may not be the best way of testing how much they’ve learnt. It is, for some of us – there’s no other place my mind works as well as it does in an exam hall. Writing this blog comes a laggardly second! I can imagine, though, that this isn’t true for everybody.

    I have this prof who says this in response to that: The best way of teaching/learning would be from a guru. One to one. In the absence of that, this seems to be the best system we have.

  8. I agree. It is a compromise and there is very little else we can do at a fundamental level.
    Where we can make changes, however are in the incentives and punishments – the carrots and sticks, so to speak – for both the students and the teachers.

    On the other hand, at higher levels of education we do seem to approach a one to one guru system. This seems to be most evident at the PhD level, where how well you do is, no doubt, partly dependent on your luck, but not on something as capricious as a single exam.

    This, I think, was The Dude’s point. Any more interpretations of The Dude’s words?

  9. 🙂

    The problem with a well elucidated post is that it doesn’t leave much room to comment…

    … unless some ‘Dude’ comes along. Then the gloves are off!

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