The Tipping Point

Every year as if by default or a divine calling, professors invariably observe that the quality of students have decreased and that the freshers are no longer predisposed to work hard.  And it has happened every single year.  Snide remarks are made by professors in almost every class across all the subjects which subtextually says – “Yoor mother and fother are sending you to study only no. Time wastingaa?  Yoo aar aal yoosless”.  This is followed by an extended discourse on how great their generation was and how they had to study under street light, how they managed to defy all odds and succeed in life.  You know stuff like that.  Advice that you don’t need.  Yawn.  A finger is extended to everything under the sun – internet, LAN, interaction with seniors, Shaastra, Saarang, bad sleeping habits, bad eating habits, monkeys, deer and dogs.  Everything under the sun except the one relevant, to explain why freshers, who are supposed to belong to the cream of the country become dumb within the span of a month, if you go by what is reflected in their quiz scores.  A typical MA101 course has an average of around 3 out of 20.  That is 15%.  So, what happened?  Geniuses become dumb in a month?  Strange, isn’t it?

The answer hit me, when I was reading this book called, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, a very interesting read.  The essence of the book is that after a certain threshold, a delta increase would lead to massive changes.  So, I asked myself, what made me give up in the first year.  It was not internet or LAN as I didn’t have access to both.  Was it interaction with seniors?  Not really.  I was a wimp in my first year, afraid to approach seniors.  Was it because I was burnt out intellectually after two years of preparation for JEE-supposed to be one among the toughest exams in the world?  No.  I was excited.  I was looking forward to learn.  And come on, JEE is not that tough.  Was it because the professors were boring?  Even though that seems to be the most plausible answer, again my answer would be no.  I stopped listening to classes even when the professors were the best in their field (For instance, Dr. Chandrakumar in Chemistry).  It wasn’t the case just with me.  Even when the topics were interesting and professor really good, a large percentage of students preferred to while away their time doodling in their notebooks rather than listening.

I religiously followed classes for a fortnight or so.   Then, I gradually lost interest in class.  By the end of first semester, the habit of mugging up everything just the day before exam started.  The senate has a one-stop solution to every problem like this.  Limit the freedom.  So, internet was blocked for 11 hours a day, attendance requirement increased to 85%.  Freshers shouldn’t go outside their room after 10PM.  No food in campus after midnight.  Bullshit.

So, why did people stop listening in class?  The answer is simple.  My claim is that it was because the classes were held in CRC.  CRC rooms are huge with the capacity to seat around 250 people for a lecture.  Unfortunately someone in the administration really used their brains.  All the fans in the room are mounted on the wall.  These fans don’t subtend the entire hall.  Of course, they are fans made in IIT Madras.  We in IIT Madras believe in precision.  You sit right beneath the fan, you will be comfortable.  A small move by an inch would make you a constant source of salt water.  So, in Chennai where the temperature hardly drops below 30 degrees, the poor fresher is made to sit in the class profusely sweating while the professor rants about Bra-Ket notation and Hilbert spaces.  And the professors complain.  If you come early to the class, running from the mess, you may get a seat near the fan but the effect is nullified because you will be sweating so much by all the running that you just want to crash off in the class.

This is the reason I stopped listening to the classes.  I asked around a bit and most people agree with me.  If the administration really wants to improve the grades of the students, all they need to do is install fans in CRC.  I am pretty much sure, grades will improve by a considerable margin.

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30 thoughts on “The Tipping Point

  1. Wow! Wow! Wow! I didn’t know we guys were such a ‘fan’-following crowd. But the admin must do something about the CRC … centralized AC may be? 😛

  2. Fans in CRC are pathetically placed. Agreed! If feeling sleepy is your problem, let me tell you that I slept in MSB also! MSB has very good ventilation system. If I remember correctly, we had a class in an air-conditioned room (again in MSB) once every week in our 1st sem. I used to sleep there too!

    IMHO it is the mess grub. I don’t like to sleep in classes. So I did some experiments to find out what was wrong. Try not to drink hot milk before you go to class in the morning. And let me know how you feel.

    And about lunch, eat less – drink more water. Its not like you are going to miss out on valuable nutrition anyway 😛

  3. Bharath Daka says:

    Samaadhi can come up with a Bangalorean solution to every problem in the world 🙂 . Anyways, nice post for pun 🙂

  4. I had this discussion with SV sometime in my second year. I remember him saying that he also thought so and he tackled it by having sweet lassi after lunch and it helped. Though I never bothered to try this, it is a start for the clueless 😛

  5. Also, who really wrote this blog? Samaadhi or Ranbir Kapoor? 😀

  6. Nikhil Mallareddy says:

    Don’t worry. They are air conditioning it now.

  7. Kanmani says:

    If the number of fans were increased in CRC, i’m sure it will have just the opposite solution.. Everyone will be really comfortable and hence will doze off 😀

  8. Kanmani says:

    *opposite effect

  9. Poseidon says:

    Freshies have ID1100 class in CLT now. It is super comfortable and they have the best profs from different departments putting fundaes on life, engineering and everything else (even there was a reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers in one lecture – the 10,000 hr funda). The classes are not boring as they used to be our freshie year. Still freshies sleep. What do you have to say about that?

  10. Akshatha says:

    “No food on campus after midnight.”
    What?!

    “And come on, JEE is not that tough.”
    Yeeeeah. 😐

  11. Though I can see this could be true, you didn’t really justify as to why you think the delta change needed is better ventilation.

  12. >> I asked around a bit and most people agree with me.

    Confirmation bias.

    Dude simple thing – you can’t stay awake in all the classes if you sleep for 4/5 hrs at night and spend the rest of the time running around doing/being made to do arbit stuff that freshies do/were made to do…

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