"Has IIT taught you anything?" - is exactly the name of the post given to one of the topic at IIT community at Orkut. The topic should have been what IIT has taught you. Aparently there is a very straightforward and simple answer to it - "Obviously they have; by the way these are the best engineering university in INDIA, and have produced "n" number of illustrious alumnis, whose students are considered as the best brains of INDIA".

That was a simple easy to convince answer to the above raised question. But to have a feel of the deep truth about it we need to give a little more thought on it. The word "taught" is related to "teach" and hence it reffers to "teaching standard, qualities, and its output". I don't want to touch the first two point (i.e. standard, and quality) as they are related to the instructor/proffesor of IITs. And as everyone knows that IITs are known for its present and past students, hence the stuffs that these students learn in IIT should be considered as the main parameter to answer the above question.

To me learning is a paradoxial stuff. To illustrate the above point let me quote a famous (but I don't know who has quoted it) about learning history, "The truth that we learn form history is that we can't learn anything from history". Learning is not that correlated to teaching as usually considered. Learning is not just about "learning formula and equation by mugging the up and storing them in ones brain forever". Learning is about enriching ones life, enriching oneself, enriching ones experience. Stuffs learned via teaching is just a fraction of it.

So one will very much eager to know what are those life enriching stuffs that is learned at IITs. I am just quoting some of the replies that have been replied at the IIT community:-

Its a matter of confidence...what we learn here is to give sensible and logical answers to questions that appear difficult to everyone...Dont worry ...just try to think how do u pass the exams and u will know what u are learning..... u are learning to grasp quickly ...the stuff which is necessary and the attitute towards life that anyone require....optimism.....

After coming to IIT 1> I learn how to learn things to a good depth and bredth at the shortest time possible and in the smartest way. 2> I interacted with the best brains of indai, lived with them brushing shoulders with them. It gives me tremendous confidence in my future life. What else do I need to learn from IIT ????

here is what a legendary prof from iit chennai had to say when asked what did u learn at iit(he was also an iit passout)::: at iit i learned how to learn

And that legendary professor is Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, so legendary that a complete chapter is devoted on him in the book "The IITian". To have a idea of what the alumni of IIT have learned and achieved have a look at "The IITian". It is worth reading.

IIT is a state of mind, once you have acquired it, you know you can learn anything and deliver. The word to watch out for is "Anything". No wonder the world puts its confidence on us. Feels good

And another two three stuffs that come into discusions are time-management, what to do in tight situations, how to live, and how to get the best out of GOOGLE in least possible time.

Aren't you baffled with above statements. There is nowhere anyone mentioned about learning what they have been taught. Where from these magic words like "confidense", "learning to learn", "state of mind", "optimism", "Anything", and "GOOGLE" come from. To best of my knowledge they are never taught in IITs. They are not at all in the curricllum of any IITs. And still people at IITs are learning it. This is the true paradox.

The solution to this paradox lies in the system the way IIT operates. No doubts IITs have the best profs in INDIA, but i don't think they are comparable to the best of the world. This is not just their fault, here they have to do n number of extra mundane stuffs that a prof at USA never dream to do, form taking tutorials to checking marksheets of students, taking labs to doing n number of office related formalities and the list continues. But the IITs have the best possible infrastructure and research facilities in India, they follows strict and taugh examination to filter the best brains of India. Being the best brains, and getting a recognition for it, along with success stories of alumna matters gives them a true confidense, that no student at any other engineering college can have.

The students in IITs are no doubts brilliant, but at the same time most of them are lazy too, or are involved in n number of activities (extra-curricular, co-curricular, or just zzzzzzz). At the same time the course loads on them are heavy. The result, night-outs before exams to cover-up everything that has been taught in a full-flegded 4 months-long-semester and surprising it works. By going through this process a student got acustomed to learn any damn thing, irrespective of whether it is interesting or not, in shortest and smartest way possible.

Most of the student of IITs comes from the middle-class families, and most of their parents have a high hopes on them. While choosing the stream of study, the interests of student who is going to study that course is unfortunately seldom considered. The end result: Student with not at all interested in branch X is studying in branch X. You are force to learn X. The better solution is "learn to learn" and the end result IIts produces majority of its student who are expert in "learn to learn", rather than expert in X. Such students just don't mis-utilize their time at IITs, but rather they learn new stuffs, pursue what they likes, do stuffs to enrich themselves. Wide variety of oppurtunity to do n numbers of extra-curricular activity, co-curricular activities, 24x7 internet connectivity etc are just a boon for them.

Someone is perfectly right in commenting that IIT is a "state of mind". It reffers to the state of mind of its fellow students and alumni. The state-of-mind is a deadly combination of brilliance, acceptance (that you are the cream of society and best brain of india), efficiency in "learning to learn, attitude to excellence in your life, and inspiration from numbers of success stories of your seniors

To conclude, it is not that IITians just learn these type of hype stuffs, but whether they likes or not they learn basic engineering skills, programming techniques and n numbers of extra craps that every engineering student learns in each and every engineering college in india, but with a better infrastructure, better teacher, better laboratory, brushing shoulders with best brains of india.

Comments (3)

  1. Blogger AJ said:  

    Can you please tell me the author of the book..the IITian..I've been trying to get on my hands on it for a year!!

    pls reply at anchal007@gmail.com
  2. Anonymous Anonymous said:  

    iit is an absolutely amazing institute but it needs to mature...
    without additional money it can do so, just mindsets need to change....
    i got in but left soon....
    what about freedom to choose your stream.....
    what about actually retaining what you "crammed" during an all-nighter.....
    what about geo-economics and world politcal issues' awareness (not on a superficial level)
    what about communication and public speaking skills (again, just having intra-institute competitions does not enlarge the well of the frog)
    what about inter-personal and inter-gender skills...
    what about ambitions beyond mnc jobs, and what about entering politics/philanthropy or what the hell even entrepreneurship on a large scale.....
    are these really the best young minds of india????
  3. Anonymous Clever Doll said:  

    Wow! I answered this exact question (in an almost similar manner), on my blog recently... http://cleverdoll.com/2008/09/10-things-i-learned-at-iit/

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