Cracking the university code

The push to be employable today is one of the primary catalysts in the global education landscape, with institutions and students alike focusing on maximising their potential for a better educative experience. This push can also be observed in the Indian context, where education holds great importance in the overall community psyche. It is estimated that just over 50% of recent graduates in the country are employable, a finding that indicates the current state of the education system in the country. 

Many top educational institutions in the country offer the best opportunities for students to increase their potential employability. The elite nature of these academic spaces also implies strict selection criteria that require students to not only possess a repository of knowledge but also the ability to utilise this knowledge in effective and innovative manners. Thus, the requirement from students today is to alter their perspective on learning and move towards a more conceptual understanding of information around them.     

Building skills 

The need for conceptual understanding can be inculcated in students early in their academic journey through the way core subjects are taught to them, specifically Mathematics. According to a recent survey, 85% of IITians opine that proficiency in Math helps them with more complex Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics subjects like Physics and Chemistry, a clear indication that math learning can create widely applicable life skills. In addition to this, there is a consensus among members of top academic institutions that math is important to successfully tackle the competitive exams.

The reasoning for this positive attitude towards math is two-fold: Firstly, Math learning involves the use of hypothetical situations that are firmly bound to physical realities to teach children core concepts. For example, teachers commonly use everyday objects such as fruits and vegetables to explain fundamental operations such as addition and subtraction as this serves the dual purpose of engaging the students in class as well as helping them internalise the concepts being taught. This internalisation is key to making sure future concepts are easily understandable to students as they will evidently build on fundamental operations.

The second advantage relates to the aspect of the previously stated hypothetical situations. Students who have successfully imbibed this method of Math learning are able to replicate this understanding in other sectors. This means that they are capable of collecting observable elements of any situation, analyse them and create their own hypothetical situations based on merely written cues. 

Thus, students are able to convert a word problem involving the size of an electrical component into a 3D mental projection of the same component, allowing them to gain a new perspective on the problem and hence find new, innovative solutions. This form of lateral thinking is essential when it comes to competitive exams as they test the student’s competency to apply classroom learning in real-world contexts.

The importance of math learning in building the foundational skills is necessary to gain this competency say 95% of IITians. They state that the math learnt between Class 7 and Class 10 was crucial in its development.  

While acing competitive exams ensures that the student is able to enter top academic spaces and gain the requisite theoretical knowledge to be applied, their employability still depends on their ability to adapt to the demands of the contemporary digital world. It is here that proper math learning showcases its versatility. 

The conceptual understanding that is internalised by students is an essential requirement in an automated industry setup where individuals are faced with resolving day-to-day problems that are dynamic in nature. A concept-driven approach to these problems helps visualise practical, efficient solutions to them that are based on analytical reasoning rather than mere theoretical knowledge. This, in turn, will help students marry their high-level academic knowledge with practical technological experiences to truly give themselves an advantage in a candidate-driven market. 

Digital transformation has had a disruptive effect on every industry. The challenge to remain relevant in employment and education spaces has led to the creation of an intensively competitive landscape where only those with the best possible skills can succeed. Proper engagement with core subjects like Math over the course of one’s educational journey can serve as an invaluable asset in such a scenario. Teacher, students and parents alike must hence look to maximise their engagement with mathematics in order to prepare themselves with the right skills. 

(The author is with Cuemath)

 

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