The CCE system, from a student’s perspective

CCE is actually a good idea. It’s just bad implementation that spoiled it.

The idea behind it is that the student is given a broad topic, then finds out more about it (on their own – without teachers.) They find out more about it, and that information creates more questions, which he/she then tries to answer, and so on. This happens four times a year, and at the end of this cycle of learning, the student tells the teacher (through a written report) what they’ve found out. All of these ‘mini projects’ are then combined, and all students have contributed to a larger project that enhances their knowledge and understanding of the topic.

I’m sure no students would hate this system. So why do they hate the implemented version of it?

Quite simply, laziness.

On the part of both the teacher and student; they can’t be bothered to do this properly. What’s more likely to happen (and what does happen) is that the teacher receives, from almost everyone, a copy of the Wikipedia page on that topic. The teacher won’t even read it; he/she will just glance over it, see how good it looks (you can write anything, however wrong, and your teacher won’t notice it – all they’re looking for is the presentation) and give you marks out of 10 or 20.

There are points for originality, too, but the teachers won’t bother to check. It’s handwritten, it must be original. I once spent three hours on an assignment, which I gave in the next day, on a printed sheet of A4 paper. The teacher assumed it was plagiarized, and gave full marks to a person who had simply written out the Wikipedia page for it. On another occasion, I gained some notoriety as the editor of the class magazine because I wouldn’t allow any plagiarized entries. Who’ll know they’re plagiarized, they thought. Or even “What’s wrong with plagiarism?” I even received a reply from a person whose poem I had rejected because it wasn’t original, saying “They stole my poem!”.

So the problems with implementation may, in fact, be problems with the people themselves.

The system reminds me of the chapter in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman (definitely in my list of top ten books) where Feynman was reviewing textbooks, and he found quite a lot of things wrong. He was part of a committee appointed to review these books, and the rest of the members weren’t really doing anything – in fact, some of them even gave their ratings for a book that was completely blank. (In some cases, it was a bit higher than the ratings for the actual books). To quote him, it was ‘UNIVERSALLY LOUSY!’

Also, increasing the number of parameters on which the student is graded was supposed to make individual tests matter less. Instead, it’s made them matter more – students fight tooth and nail for every mark they can get away with, and the gap between 90% and 91% has widened even further.

In fact, it’s become the gap between 90.9% and 91%.

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