Posted by: greatfoundation | September 8, 2010

Teaching goal – Passing the exam or knowing the subject?

Teaching goal – Passing the exam or knowing the subject? – Utpala Joshi

I have been struggling with this question, especially this year since I started teaching math to the ‘B’ division of 10th standard. The division is known to be not-so-good in math. They are also studying the easier math known as ‘simple math’.

During last one month, I have observed one positive change. The attendance in the class is consistently good. There are about 30 students who are attending the class regularly on each Saturday. Saturday, being morning school day of the week, always sees less attendance so I am taking heart that something about the math class is interesting for the students.

At the same time, I am disheartened that simple operations such as division are not understood by the students. The class can’t do a simple division such as 32 / 2. Not only that, they stop at 15 / 2, never taking the last step of getting to the answer of 7.5. Signed numbers are also confusing to them and none of them can do sum such as  -6 + -6 correctly and confidently. So I started with the number line and the tables, but have quickly realized that I will not be able to complete the prescribed the complete portion by the time of the final exam.

So the question is, do I prepare them to pass the exam or do I teach them basic math operations? I know the two need not be mutually exclusive but given the time constraint, I have to choose one over the other.

I know that not passing SSC exam means end of road for many students as far as formal education goes. The stamp of ‘SSC pass’ is useful in later life and much needed, should the student decide (and is able financially) to study further. However I do believe that addition, subtraction, multiplication and division operations are necessary to lead a life where you are not cheated in your money dealings.

I’m so firm in this belief that I am resetting my goal this year to teaching and concentrating basic concepts. Hopefully passing the exam will follow.

What do you think? Is my goal right?



  1. Hi Utpala,

    I think your choice is correct. You should stick to teaching basic concept instead of preparing for exam.

    I don’t know whether you remember me. I was your B.E. (E&T/C) classmate as well as your student (you taught PowerBuilder to me in MASTECH in 1992/93.)

    Dilip Jaju

    • Hi Dilip,

      As mentioned by Utpala, please let me know in case you are interested in volunteering…you could mail me at ( for further details.


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