COURSE CURRICULUM: WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE!

Hello folks! I think I have given you enough time to sweetly dream about all the fun that is possible between students and teachers at IIT Gandhinagar. How does this help? Well, when students are happy, they give their best in every field—simple, right?! Now, moving forward in this article today, let me familiarize you with another interesting and happening concept of this education body, but first answer a very simple question: how many times have you been given the ‘right to choose’ the subjects you want to study? The starting of 9th and 11th standards would have swum in your minds, where we got the ‘only’ chance to pick from subjects like mathematics, science, arts, etc. and then continued with them for two years or so. Then start the higher studies that mostly have a fixed curriculum. Isn’t it sort of ‘boring’? But, what if I say…. that you get to select your subjects every semester — yes, you read it, correct guys! EVERY SEMESTER…

IIT Gandhinagar lets its students decide what they want to study. This would have led you all to think: how is this possible?! After all, most of the Indian institutions have a largely pre-set course structure to which the students have to adhere to. Let me assure you, this is not what you are going to find here. The undergraduate students have a mixture of fixed and ‘selective’ subjects with a lot of flexibility in terms of choosing their courses. The masters’ and doctoral students have almost full liberty to decide on the courses they wish to take. It is indicative of the ‘latest trend’ where students are given increasing freedom in various aspects of academia as they grow up and are not forced to pursue a defined set of subjects. IIT Gandhinagar understands that everyone is not the same and all of us are unique in some way or the other. You all would know about Amir Khan’s superhit movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and this institute promotes the same ideology according to which students should do what they love since it is what brings out the best in them!

A ‘bang-on’ positive point about this Institute: it has been designed such that it goes way beyond the typical, traditional Indian institutions! Letting the students study the courses of their liking is, in my opinion, a mind-blowing and innovative facet of the curriculum that encourages maximum curiosity and creativity. Other than choosing the courses from our discipline, we are free to make a choice from subjects well outside our discipline-boundaries which kind of prepare us for our last job, rather than for our first job. We just have to complete a set of credit based categories comprising of discipline-specific, engineering-science, basic-science, humanities and open-electives within which we can go for courses of our preference. In this way, we are provided a strong baseline for our future professions as well as a full flexibility in terms of making our own decisions with the guidance of our professors — isn’t it amazing?! This broad characterization has been done with the aim to inculcate a 360° development potential in us students. It can be called as an ‘open-ended’ education where we opt for subjects keeping in mind our career goals.

Suppose the class timings of two of your selected subjects are clashing— no need to worry! These timings would be adjusted according to the convenience of the majority of students or you could also take on one of these subjects in the coming semesters. Voila – problem solved! Also, in the first week of each semester, you can attend classes of as many different subjects as you want and based on your experience can finally select the courses you wish to continue with. Such is the level of adaptability of professors and staff according to the interests of students at this institute. Help, support and encouragement from all sides— that is what this IIT is all about! It not only ends here. We are also offered numerous ‘short’ courses on a wide variety of topics. These might be deep dives into a specialization like cinema, or an overview of a cutting-edge theme, like cryptocurrencies. As evident from the name, these courses are of a short duration; a couple of hours for about 3-5 days. It is totally up to us, which ones we want to go for. These courses serve as additional qualifications on our grade-sheets. So technically speaking, it all comes down to students’ decisions— what we like, what we want and what we love to do the most— and our Profs and all the staff support us through all this.

I often ponder over this notion of, in a way, letting the students determine what is ideal for them and realize that steps like these build up the foundation for what can be called as successful and independent individuals in future. Giving us the authority over what we want to learn sort of fills us a sense of confidence, it makes us perceive ourselves as a mature person. Someone who is responsible for their career, who can weigh all chances before making a decision, who ultimately knows what to constructively do with their life — which is a complete contradiction to what is called the traditional ‘spoon feeding’ that is prevalent in many institutes. There, the institution decides and its students follow— blindly! Here, we have every right to ask questions, to raise our voice, to decide for ourselves. I do not say that we are always right. Afterall, we are growing up and we will make mistakes along our way but for avoiding or resolving those we have our professors who guide us constantly. Ultimately, in the end it is us who make the final judgements without any fear— in terms of what we want to study and this is what I think lets us utilize our capabilities to our fullest and leads to excellent results. As they say: ‘Always play to your strengths!’

I hope you all were able to taste another unique flavour of IIT Gandhinagar through this piece. I will be back soon with the third topic of this short series. Till then I leave you all to dream about all the goodness of this place— adios my friends!

By- Apeksha Srivastava, M.Tech student- Biological Engineering (16210113)

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