September 26, 2013, 1:03 pm
If some schools have their way, a high score in maths or science could come at the cost of social studies. Many high school students and their parents and teachers have been urging the Central Board of Secondary Education to reduce the social studies syllabus.
Devi Academy Senior Secondary School principal Malathy Srinivasan said there was no distinction when it came to allocating marks for subjects. "But, there is an idea that maths has to be worked out daily. And, there’s maths phobia. So, a little more importance is given to maths and science," she said.
The CBSE has asked those seeking a reduction of syllabus to write whether the burden of syllabus was the result of a casual attitude towards the subject, lack of effective teaching, heavy content and lack of conceptual understanding or because of poor reading habits and lack of comprehension. Stakeholders have also been asked to suggest whether allotting more time to the subject, changing the weightage of marks, reducing the content, or making certain sections optional should be considered.
Academics worry that the proposal, if implemented, could start a trend of putting arts on the back seat. This is already evident, they say, in higher education, where few choose humanities.
Art and culture critic Sadanand Menon said that if it came through there would be "lopsided emphasis on preparation of future citizens and reflect on the kind of society we will have to live with".
As a teacher, he said, he could already see the effects of lesser importance to social sciences. "I find students less informed of contemporary society and blank when it comes to inequalities in society."
M P Damodaran, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Madras, said humanities helped develop the learner’s personality at the individual level and helped him/her understand others. "The impact of IT on mass urbanized set-ups like cities have made people crazy about jobs rather than finding themselves and their place in society," he said.
Educational consultant K R Maalathi said the approach to social studies in school was leading to the death of humanities in higher education.
"Schools are only readying children for engineering courses and not giving them a choice. If maths and science are given nine periods a week, social studies is given only six," she added.