Thursday, March 16, 2006

The difference between goal and aim

Sometimes i wonder why we learn what we learn. Allow me to illustrate my point. I'll start off with a small anecdote. This happened when i was in S-6, in the Principles of Management class.

time: 08:00 hrs.
the teacher started rambling about Decision Making. What i heard was " decision making is the process of ...while keeping into view the bo bo bo bo .... bo bo bo bo bo bo bo ...zo zo zo zo ... zz zz zz zz...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz". Out of the class and into dreamland in 7.35 minutes flat.

time : 08:15 hrs.

teacher : Last bench, black t-shirt.
my fellow back-benchers, driven into a similar state of stupour, but somehow still conscious enough to deduce with a moderate amount of difficulty that i was the only last bencher with the black t-shirt yanked me awake.
Me (wondering if Pakistan had attacked): huhhh??? ....
teacher: what is your name?
me: errr.. Barun(i think)
teacher: Barun,what is the difference between a goal and an aim?
me: goal and aim???
teacher: yes, goal and aim.
me:errr....goal.. and aim???
teacher:either you answer this question, or you get out of the class.
me: ma'am, aim and goal sound like pretty much the same thing to me.
teacher: get out.go sleep in your room.and no attendance for you today.

There. I knew it was futile to protest. Futile to even beg. I already had 5 out of the maximun allowed 7 bunks in this subject.( what else do you expect? You keep a subject like this in the first hour and expect me to go?) .Cutting sideways from the plot, i now remember why we used to affectionately call the teacher 'Gabbar'( the heartless daakoo from Sholay, for the uninitiated). Anyways,one more attendance gone up in smoke. I started my journey towards the door. But the optimist in me never dies. I thought there was still a way to salvage some of the lost image.

me (on my way out): ma'am, could you atleast tell me the answer?
At that point, I swear I saw the teacher saying "what the fuck??" under her breath.But this is NITC baybeh. Anything the student asks must be answered by the teacher, even if its an enquiry into their favourite colour for pyjamas( the Director says it aids in the learning process of the students).
Gabbar: An aim is short-term, and a goal is long-term .( or vice-versa.. i don't remember properly now).

Believe it or not, i got kicked out of class because some self-obsessed idiot at some point of time had decreed that aim is short-term and goal is long-term( or vice versa). I lost an attendance for this. Could anyone explain to me how knowing the difference between aim and goal was going to make me a better engineer( or a manager, for argument's sake)? Here's another thing that's a point of active discussion in the field of management: is management a science or an art? This question has appeared 24 out of 25 times in the history of end-semester exams in NITC (and CREC earlier).Well, i remember the brief outline of the answer. There were about 10 points supporting the argument that management was a science, and 10 points that suggested it was an art. The funny thing is, that 5 of the points were common to both. And the teachers taught it with such a straight face that it almost seemed sensible.
I'm sure that these are not stray one-off cases. I'm sure that, had i paid more attention in class these four years, i would have been able to point out many more such instances of megacrap being taught in the name of engineering education.
Oh yes, go ahead and laugh at my misery. But don't miss the big picture here. Why do we learn drivel like this? Is it just the name of the degree B.Tech that has value? what about the things that are taught under its garb? I thought the aim of teaching Principles of Management was clearing the fundamentals of how to manage an industry, or atleast a small team of people. Instead we learn trivia that has absolutely nothing to do with making us a better manager. I now wonder what in the holy name of management is taught in the IIMs.the highest paid guy in IIMK this year grabbed a package of $84,000. I'm sure he must know that aim is short-term and goal is long-term( or vice versa).


Chandrima the Gr8 said...

Barun Do post more often, man! Or will you let your blog die a slow and painful death?

plutonikos. said...

hey that was a good post
!! aim n goal..the word goal is also part of the sport terminology. officially.. if tht makes sensse..
haha..but i agree they do teach a lot of faltoo stuff in engg.. or even if its not faltoo. the teachers make it really faltoo...