Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Aal izz well

As they say in the Bollywood movies- I’m not sure if it is supposed to translate to something other than “All is well” in English but it does convey the same sentiment.  I was reading an interview of one of the top scoring girls in the CSBE (Central School Board Examinations) Class 12 examinations in the Hindustan Times and that was her mantra during the physics paper.
            Although it has been a chaotic time at the College as Dr. Jolly navigates examinations, admissions and the workshop that begins tomorrow, it is an exciting time for education in the newspapers as these test scores are published.  Delhi was excited about having some of the top scores in the country and they showed girls celebrating leading males by about 8% (I’m curious about the scores in science specifically- I’ll have to do some data digging).  They said the percentage of people scoring over 90% tripled in Delhi, which is going to mean dramatic raising cut off scores for the University. 
Reading these surveys, examinations have such a huge influence on determining both where you go but also what you study- some of the students had to resort to their third choice course of study and once you get to college, you’re pretty locked into that subject.  That would make a lot of the undecided American undergraduates pretty stressed out!  After all this happy news, there was a short blurb in the corner about a girl committing suicide when she found out she failed.  My questionnaire includes some questions about the level of competition in high school and college, and the pressure to succeed academically by parents- the surveys I have seen so far don’t seem to indicate that these are sources of major stress for these students.  But it is obviously a big deal for some.
            Today, I was mostly caught up in the whirlwind of preparation for the workshop tomorrow.  I worked on coming up with a questionnaire for the 45 participating high school teachers to echo some of the questions I asked the undergraduates.  I’m curious to see if/ how their career aspirations evolved into high school teaching (there really is little to no existing research in India that looks into this!).  Now I’ve got audio recording equipment (no batteries right now) but hopefully I’ll get to record some conversations to supplement the surveys.
            Oh and today, I entered the college “washroom” which was my first “public” toilet experience besides the mall and the airport.  So there were three stalls with all these hoses and holes in the ground- I didn’t even know what to do!  After staring bewilderedly at the foreign contraption in front of me, I bolted before anyone could see my confusion. Talk about humbling- I’m studying for a PhD in physics and I can’t figure out how to operate a bathroom!  Needless to say, I took that as an excuse to enjoy the outdoors as I strolled back to my normal toilet.  Oh, India- I feel like I’ll never figure this country out!