Friday, June 7, 2013

MBA entrances: Do they actually test you or your rote learning skills?

A year and a half ago I tried preparing for an MBA entrance exam mostly because I was bored and was looking for avenues other than engineering and partially because I found the tests intriguing, the test of your English ability, the analytical and logical ones and all. So I joined an institute with some of my classmates and soon enough I was completely disillusioned and left it after a month.

I have always had a romantic view of examinations. They test you on what you know, what you have learnt and liked. I never liked rote learning and the obtuse importance placed on them by every institution of learning. I have always read my books with great joy and loved learning from them, from genetics and particle physics in school to reading Shakespeare and renaissance history, maybe because I had such teachers who placed more importance on what I have learnt and grasped rather than what I could vomit, it had always been a pleasurable experience.

So when I sat for my first MBA coaching class, the teacher gave us an English ability test, asking us to fill in the blanks and choose synonyms for certain words. Good enough and a very good test at that. The test will check how much you have learnt in all your years of education, if you are a good reader, do you read good publications and do you use those words in your daily vocabulary. A very good test of your abilities and if you lack in something, you will go and read some more or engage in debates and conversations that improve your vocabulary. I was one of the top scorers of the class and was very happy; I knew I was on the right track being a book-whore (for a want of a better word). Then the teacher started discussing the answers and techniques and it didn’t really sound all that right, he wanted us to start mugging up words? What happened to learning words the good old way? What happened to using them in your day to day life? And why were obscure difficult sounding words a part of the book? And if that wasn’t strange enough, a week later all the vomiting types started scoring really well. They had to. They had the stuff they could vomit out; learn the words and their meaning forget about usage or anything else. That is not important, right? And so this person who couldn’t even pronounce “comb” and “Las Vegas” and whose grammar was something right out of class 5 was getting really good marks. I am not against her knowing the answers but she should have known them the right way and not by rote learning. The whole process of learning just gets lost in it.

Take a math or logical reasoning class. Ideally such questions test your ability to “logically reason”. The word is simple enough but here we were given set formulae and patterns. If this kind of question comes, do this or if this comes apply this formula. What happened to us actually thinking? Why were we made to think in a robotic fashion?

I am pretty sure when the MBA entrance tests were conceived this wasn’t on their minds, they actually
wanted to test a student for what he is. Is he really a manager material? You can get parrots anywhere but a manager is someone who has this quality in built or a talent enough to build it in himself and stand out. I know a person who is amazing in all of these. She has what it takes, an ideal MBA candidate if there ever were. She has a great abundance of knowledge and a sharp brain to learn. Wouldn’t you want someone like that for your company?

I decided to go for a GRE exam and in the language skills section I found my peace. They actually tested my usage and not my mugging up abilities. I loved it. I screamed out for joy and it was bliss. THAT is an exam. And then I found my calling in mass communication. Heaven.

As the MBA entrance results came out, I was less than surprised that many rote learners got great scores but happy for some of my friends who cracked those exams because I know they deserved it, they are made for the program and maybe in an ideal world, a world where your actual knowledge is tested and not your mugging up skills, they would be in better IIMs but wherever they are, they should know that they deserve it hundred percent if not more.

Oh and the ones who rote-learned their way to B schools, All the best. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I LOVE this song!!!!

Because I absolutely LOVE this song and have been playing it on a loop and I just HAD to post it!!! <3 nbsp="">

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Consumerism: How suddenly we need a lot of things to survive

John Berger, in his documentary, “Ways of seeing” talks about the publicity image. How an advertisement and the items and models depicted in it create a sense of envy in us that tugs at us and makes us feel incomplete without that particular item. How owning that one piece of item will make life so much better and every problem will be solved.

I am a victim of this.

As I sit around making a shopping list for myself, I suddenly realised how many unnecessary items I have on the list and how each one has its own reason for being that one infallible object that I absolutely NEED to buy. I am plagued by a need that all of us can identify with; I want to buy that perfect shade of gloss and get a facial done because I feel that is the only think to looking absolutely gorgeous. A new season means I want to buy new shoes and clothes because they will make me happy and feel better. If I don’t feel like going to work or to exercise, buy new accessories and you are good to go. For me, new things and items and shopping in general is associated with a whole change in life. I feel new, I might look the same to the other person yet I love it. I am motivated to work more and somehow, these materialistic things make much more sense than anything else.

I don’t know if this is right or wrong. Am I complete victim of a consumer society or the things that I buy are actually what I need. I try to think of the million beauty products that are marketed every day and then of the home remedies that my mother lists for me. In an ideal environment home remedies would work wonders, but now we live in a world where you have an uncontrolled amount of pollution, you are stressed, hardly have time for anything and hardly anything is pure and unpolluted. You can try using a neem leaf to clear your skin but as I have been hopping from one city to another in India, you won’t really find neem leaves in abundance and even if you do, they are so badly damaged with pesticides and pollution that their natural essence has already been ruined. Imagine rubbing neem leaf on your skin and suffering from a bad rash. Been there, done that. As with Aloe Vera, a plant every herbal skin expert swears by and yet when I applied it to my skin, I was itchy all over. And natural haldi and natural sandal paste, tried all and been hurt very badly. BB cream and bit of highlighter and bronzer and I have the perfect skin to go.

I am not propagating the use of chemicals on the face but on a personal level and with really horrible experiences somehow, I feel that with the damage that has been done to the environment and as work increases and one person is forced to do the work of ten, we are suddenly in need of many things that in the past would have been a luxury or a sheer stupidity.
There are many people who say that a phone is just to make calls and yet imagine yourself without your smart phones; they are your own personal computers within your reach. I have access to the internet all the time, I can troubleshoot work problems or a make changes on my project, indulge my hobby of photography, read a book, stay in touch with my overseas friends, check and reply to email, make a shopping list shop online, be within deadlines and in general be a lot more useful to everyone around me. So, yes, I feel they are pretty useful, we travel a lot and there are times when we have an emergency to attend to or a sudden submission has to be made and to be honest these emergencies and sudden submissions happen a lot with everyone, we are after all juggling work which was done by ten people in the past.

I am not passing a judgment on consumerism. There are many items which I feel are not really useful, packaged fruit juices for instance or fried chips. But then again, these are all our personal choices and here a conundrum lies, where exactly do our personal choices come in? Are we capable enough of thinking for ourselves or do we have our peer group, our parents and now advertisements telling us what to buy? This is an aspect of consumerism which I detest. If a person makes an informed decision to buy something on their own, there is no harm to it, he might actually be in need of the thing but with the world being as manipulative as it is, we hardly have anyone thinking for himself. Music is sold because the popular person in the college likes it and I need to buy it to seem cool enough, that dress looked good on her and it will on me too, I absolutely NEED to have that GUCCI bag, well because it is GUCCI and so on and so forth.

We are in this constant battle between our actual mind and the thoughts that are put in us. We might not even know it and we are controlled. Consumerism on its own is not dangerous but consumerism of our thoughts is.