Acads And What Not

“Remember, remember, the 3rd of December
The Compre Season and plot;
I see of no reason why last sem’s lesson
Be ever so quickly forgot.”

This would possibly be how ‘V for Vendetta’ would have begun, if it had been scripted by a disillusioned BITSian. Endless hours spent by the side of yellowing books, little Styrofoam cups of coffee strewn around and late-night gibberish talks turn the austere campus into an all-hell-broken-loose institute for the mentally stressed, come December. And then there’s the break – 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it. Textbooks become hand-me-downs and the process repeats until they are reduced to strips of scrap, to be fed to the real ruminants this time.

Hey but wait! That’s fine for eloquence. What’s the rank of the 42X42 identity matrix? Stop. Rewind. Visit the cow’s tummy for the remains of the Linear Algebra book it has ingested, quite apparently better than you have. Oh crap! (pardon the pun) It’s manure in the BITS lawns, now. But who cares? You got a 9 in the subject, and your CG certainly owes the course a good deal. Ah those pre-compre nights you spent slogging away at the textbook – properly justified by the good grades, you suppose.

But is that it? Are all those days we spent in the cool comfort of F108 worth just the single number that pops up on our screens the end of a semester? Yep, the grades do count, but it’s time we change the way we look at our acads. We sign off the last sentence on our answer scripts with a flourish, and depart for those vacations, but what do we really take back from four odd years of education at a premier institute? In our defence, there always seems to be the argument that “Well…*shrug* none of the courses seem aligned to address what I want to do in the future, so…” But if our aspirations are all that long-term, we shouldn’t be fretting about our grades either, right?

Let’s go back to the time we were all kids in prim and proper uniforms, sans the sideburns and the swagger. We waltzed into BITS as people motivated to think beyond the academic requirements of school education and as people willing to explore the realm of scientific reason and logic. Why has that inquisitiveness fizzled out in the din of amassing grades? Let me draw the line of sermonizing here, for both you and I will find ourselves wanting in the answers to several such questions. A drink of water may do us well at this instance. And let me catch you again, before you fall into a vortex of self-doubting questions such as:  ‘What am I worth?’ or ‘Where do I stand with respect to everybody else?’

Admit it – both you and I are smart, for we wouldn’t be chewing down the iconic Mess 1 BITSian poha otherwise. But what should separate us from the rest of the country is the drive to learn – our innate acceptance of the fact that numbers don’t define us, but knowledge does and that our learning doesn’t stop with the mere exploration of the contours of our prescribed texts. We came into this college to learn, and try as they might, we cannot let our grades shape our lives herein. Let’s begin learning instead of quite simply studying and bathe ourselves in the warmth and splendour of the… (Okay, I’m sure you get the point).

Our academic lives are spliced together, in manners more intricate than they may seem – so  let’s make the best of our time here, and learn. Grades are but digits separated by decimal points, and one man’s digit exceeding another’s only scratches the surface of his true merit. So let’s discuss, brainstorm and thrash out what we have learnt; question and disbelieve, for that’s how we relearn and reinforce our trust in the truth of the knowledge imparted to us.

Cheers to a good, ‘learning-driven’ academic life ahead!

PS: 42 may or may not be the answer to life, the universe or the last question of your final compre objective test, but for the rank of the matrix above, it certainly is. Backhanded, eh?

Arvind Rameshwar

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