Book Review: Don’t Fall Through the Cracks!: Everything Wrong with School and How to Survive It by Sid Sanghvi

Book Name: Don’t Fall Through the Cracks!: Everything Wrong with School and How to Survive It

Author: Sid Sanghvi

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 4.9/5

Book Blurb:

‘Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.’ —H.G. Wells

This is an unsparing dissection of the current education system by someone who has managed to wade through it, comparatively unscathed.

Unbroken and unshaken by a system that believes largely in the status-quo, writer Sid Sanghvi lays bare the truths about learning and the paradoxes in the ‘system’ of education. He challenges age-old notions about how information is imparted, and argues that learning without any understanding of how to learn, is the root of the problem. 

The book takes a dispassionate look at the rights and wrongs perpetuated by the education system, both knowingly and unknowingly. There was a time when teachers kept a record of all the educating they had done: ‘911,527 blows with a rod, 124,010 blows with a cane, 20,989 taps with a ruler, 136,715 blows with the hand, 10,235 blows to the mouth, 7,905 boxes on the ear, and 1,118,800 blows on the head,’ wrote one teacher in his personal diary. 

Cut to the present, with the inefficiencies of the current education system exposed by the emergence of Covid-19, there could not be a better time for the incumbents to get a much needed reality check. But fear not, in tandem with attempting to lay bare the flaws of primary and secondary education, this book offers a roadmap for how one may successfully navigate the current system to maximize their probability of success. 

This is a simple guide to our education system: its past, its present and a roadmap for its future.

Review: Don’t Fall Through The Cracks is an interesting critique of the education system. It has the material right and a lot of research has been carried out. The book is well structured and starts with the shortcomings of the present education system, the enormous debts that students have to undertake in order to get an education and the single-minded focus on the conned by rot system.

There is no questioning that the education system is in need of a complete rehauling, as it were. But I remember my supervisor in class 12 mentioned saying that a better system has not been devised so far, otherwise it would have taken over. We are living in a democratic setup because let’s face it, humans have not devised a better system.

The author has done his homework and dissects the pitfalls of the education system in detail. There are some very unique insights in this book. The book mentions that the credit hour system was devised- not for students but to decide how to pay professors! So I took so many classes just to ensure my professors would get paid such and such amount?

Education should also be a fundamental right and an inclusive process. But the present system curbs talent. Unless you secure a scholarship (very difficult to get and very scarce) you cannot get admission into good colleges unless of course, your daddy is super rich. A daddy’s pocket should not determine what education a child gets. Not done! But it is what it is.

“But when it comes to student loans? NO, they’re special. You can’t file for bankruptcy. They stay with you for the rest of your life. This is quite literally the definition of indentured servitude!”

Most of my batch mates including me work in sectors that have nothing to do with our degrees. And most of us possess fancy degrees received through subsidised education. We joke that we studied so much but have never had to submit our degree certificates, like ever! Things that are taught at college level have no real life application.

The book ends with some possible solutions and there are examples such as Sugar Mitra (Hole in the wall experiment) and the Finland model. But this is also a potential downside of this book. There is no major alternative suggested. All solutions are borrowed. Khan academy can never be a solution to our education woes, I guess. It’s easy to say this is bad (or complete rubbish) but you should also be able to suggest a better system, a better alternative. Mere criticism is not enough. The book is also an in your face kind of an angry critique but that’s understandable.

The author has structured the book very well, it is also compiled and researched thoroughly, no easy task especially when it comes to such a complex subject such as education. It’s written in a simple manner, no complex jargon and it is something that affects us all.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a holistic book on education then this is it. You would also understand why most people are unhappy because they are in jobs just for money. Nobody does what he likes to do. The work is monotonous and you end up wondering whether your education was of any use. Good attempt. I loved this book!

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