The spirit if inquiry
DR. MUHAMMAD AMIN MALIK EXPLAINS THE NATIONAL SCIENCE DAY AND ITS RELEVANCE TO KASHMIR
Science has contributed a great deal to human welfare. It is through the learning of science that we can address our grave issues like global warming, environmental pollution, disease eradication, sustainable energy resources etc and bringing peace and prosperity to mankind. So there should be more recognition and celebration of the importance of science in our society.
Feb 28th is celebrated as National Science day in India. It was on this day, in the year 1928 that C V Raman announced to the world his famous discovery “the Raman Effect”, at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. This discovery earned him a Nobel Prize in 1930 and he became the first Asian to win a Noble prize in any of the sciences. On this day the people of science pay tributes and express gratitude to Sir C V Raman and to all the scientists for their genius and dedication. The basic objective of observing National Science Day is to spread the message of importance of science and its application in societal transformation. It is a day, which attracts many young minds to take up science as their career and to ponder over the novel scientific achievements.
It was in a December evening in 1927. Raman was in his office with his brother when his scholar Dr K S Krishnan rushed in, to announce the award of the Noble Prize in Physics to A H Compton for his work on the scattering of X-Rays. Raman brightened up and burst out “excellent news… very nice indeed. But look here Krishnan if this is true of x-rays it must be true of light also. I have always thought so. There must be an optical analogue to the Compton Effect. We must pursue it and we are on the right lines.” After seeing the effect in Feb, 1928 Raman demonstrated it before the distinguished member of the cultivation of science on 28th February.
Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, (1888 –1970) was born in a Hindu Brahmin family in Tiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu). His father was a teacher and the family lived from hand to mouth as Raman put it “I was born with a copper spoon in my mouth”. But he proved his academic excellence at a very young age by passing his secondary school at a tender age of 11, BSc at the age of 15, MSc at 17 and joined the Indian Finance Department as Assistant Accountant General in 1915. But his love for Physics continued and he resigned from Government service in 1917 and became a Professor in Physics at Science College of Calcutta University. Raman was a compulsive and relentless investigator and he never stopped learning, and doing research. He was influenced by music, color, flowers, beauty and the aesthetic sense and satisfaction derived from them. He was of the opinion that it is these finer things in life that makes life worth living. He used to say that the color of the sea interested him more than the fish, which lived in it.
Science days are very important issues. Our schools, colleges and even our universities in Kashmir are presently grappling with a big problem of disinterest, disillusion and low attendance and enrollment of science students which is not present in our Jammu region. Some students prefer to play truant from classes and attend coaching/ tuition centers for preparing professional entrance exams, competitive exams etc. Some indulge in part time business and other courses and simultaneously attend schools. Most of others in the schools, colleges are rote learners who follow the teachers for obtaining notes so that they can pass their examination. As a result of this, the students deprive themselves of science learning. Although the role in Physics is picking up from the last two years, the roll in Chemistry, Zoology, Botany and Math is showing decline.
The main external cause behind this scene is the economy. Many students with their parents are craving for getting some kind of job for their livelihood while some others are bent upon getting some administrative or some lucrative type of a job using arts subjects which they feel fetch high marks with little hard work. The internal cause is the methodology of science teaching that encourages rote learning, ill-equipped teachers and labs, lack of inspirational and committed teachers, note culture and poorly written text-books and peer pressure to join lucrative courses. The note culture and rote learning are doing the worst damage to the cause of science learning. It is mostly prevalent from 9th to B Sc classes and its main contributors are our high and higher secondary intuitions and tuition centers. It is a learning malpractice and though it has made teachers job easier and saved their time and energy but it has badly damaged the science teaching. We have to dissuade from this practice and train teachers to clear subject misconceptions so that they can teach a real science based on inquiry.
We must realize that science is not about its theories and boring lectures, notes, cramming. Science is a beauty. Studies have shown that book reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary. Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy as they sit more on the internet than on a book. At the same time multi-tasking prevents people from getting a deeper understanding of things. So we have to encourage our students to read more on hard books and avoid multi-tasking.
Science learning is essentially of two main parts, one is theory and other is laboratory work. Both are equally important. In fact I should say that practical part of science is more important than theory because science is essentially about experiments. But it is very sad to say that over the years the practical part of science has virtually become redundant right from the 10th class to 12th class. There has been no seriousness on this vital part of the science. During the last decade it has penetrated in the colleges and universities as well. It is now looking like a formality to appear in practical examinations in which students easily manage to influence teachers, and other officials. There have been reports that teachers threaten the students to come to their tuition centers lest they fail them in the practicals. This act of teachers will surely discourage students towards science learning. The Board, University authorities and the heads of the institutions have to realize this problem. They should devise a foolproof mechanism so that students are compelled to attend the laboratory work.
The young teachers from schools, college and even universities should be given enough room and encouragement to go for research and other academic activities. Research is highly fruitful and productive when researcher is energetic and young. But it is sad to say that encouragement for research activity for such people is not seen in our intuitions. For example the in-service college teachers can go for PhD program in Kashmir University only after putting 15 years of service in the college while there are no such barriers in Jammu University. Considering many factors from health issues to home issues how can a college teacher at the age of, say 45 years go for a quality PhD program. And even if he joins the program what best can we expect from his work. Isn’t this a case of discouraging the research activities or compromising with the quality research work? The problems like these have to be rectified to encourage more interaction and research work.
We have to upgrade our examination system. A good memorizer of facts, figures and procedures, gets the highest marks, when he/she knows nothing. This appears a real scandal of education. We have to restructure the system, to reward only demonstrated thinking ability. Further, there is a dire need to change the professional entrance exam timing-month, so that science students take serious academics in the colleges for the full session.
Studying science will put us in the driving seat; giving us skills and knowledge to improve the world around us and even the future of our planet besides creating huge job opportunities in new emerging technologies. So our administration, academia and our parents need to encourage the science learning, science teaching and science research at all levels.
(Write is Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, Amar Singh College, Srinagar.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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