Exams are the biggest deadweight loss of our education system.
-Vishwanath Pingali, the coolest Economics Professor in the history of mankind
Ten of the wisest words I have heard in a classroom of IIMA. And believe me, I have heard and experienced quite a few things in a classroom. From an intellectual factory to an anarchic zoo, the room takes every possible shape and form.
It is quite a sight at 8:45 in the morning to begin with. Come at 8:43 once and you will have the most fascinating next two-odd minutes to start your day with. Equipped with several food items in one hand, and some liquid to help them stay awake in the other hand, almost a quarter of the batch rushes through to take seats before it faces the ire of the professor. The professor usually makes his entry into the class around the time when most of the students are yet to get up from their beds. And that doesn’t mean the Professors arrive too early.
Exactly at 8:45 a.m., the professor commences his session. By the time the classes get over at 1:10 p.m., a series of amusing events take place, every day.
One is supposed to read a case for every lecture. In case the case is too long and equally boring, and you feel like sleeping a few hours extra the previous day instead, you need to pray that you don’t get cold called in the class. In case you do and feel you can get away with a Globish (A term used to define things that are way too low on the intellectual scale and yet are beyond the understanding of many people) answer, hold on! There is an entire army of 90 students waiting to slow clap (A physical activity that involves thumping on the desk loudly but at a slow pace. It gives immense pleasure to the people involved and keeps a quality check on the kind of things people speak in the class).
As the class enters into a lively discussion on the case, there are quite a few people who enter into a world of their own. Where they dream, quite literally. To the envy of all those unlucky souls sitting in the well (One of the most dangerous places in the class from where the professor seems like standing right on top of you and you are forced to listen to every word he speaks while maintaining a painful neck angle), people on the back normally have a fun outing in the class. They play with the attendance sheet. By the time the sheet reaches the Academic Associate (A noteworthy creature who assumes unparalleled importance because of its power to give you marks for class participation; normally its hand movements are of keen interest to some), it becomes a ravaged version of its original self with names of people getting modified at awkward interval of alphabets.
That’s hardly it. Your name tag is tempered, quite frequently and you get to see all the possible permutations and combinations of the alphabets making your name. Your foot wears sometimes get kicked enough without your approval so that they land up right in front of the professor. You see people putting DCP (Another lingo used to define a deliberate attempt to speak in the class to instigate hand movements from the AA. The attempt is very easily spotted and rightly frowned upon), People walking multiple times out of the class either to increase the water level in the body or to decrease it and taking hours to get done with it, people eating quite conveniently in front of the professor, etc.
And yet, the classroom experience is one of the most amazing experiences of anyone’s IIM A life. It always flabbergasted me when a Marketing professor would come up with a solution to a case study that the collective mind of 90 students was so unable to even reach closer to. And that has been a joy of classroom discussions. It is fun, but it is some great learning and I haven’t seen these two elements of Education getting mixed in any better manner.
Ending with a quote by one of the professors:
“Life is a battle and you are a warrior. In the long run, no one remembers whether you won or whether you lost. But everyone remembers which side you fought from. Make wise choices. ”
About the Author:
Nishant Shah has finished his B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from NIT, Surat and is currently a student at IIM Ahmedabad for PGP in Management. He has interned for two months at IIM Ahmedabad under Prof. Vijaya Sherry Chand, working for the Education Innovations Bank.