Exams are On.
Every second of every minute of the day; every moment of our lives is being accounted for. Needless to say, parents and children are fighting to stay afloat, to stay calm and to stay in love. The stress for educators – school teachers, tuition teachers and management is no less. Everyone is expected to do well, out-perform, and achieve!
A student I know was asked to leave his school in grade XI. He spent his entire life in that one institution but today he was not good enough. He scored 78%in 10th grade. The concerns:
1. He would bring down the average of the school.
2. A replacement with a higher score would benefit the institution.
The score became greater than the individual.
Who is to blame –
- The student whose score is possibly his best under the given circumstance;
- The school which is being pressured to deliver higher numbers;
- Or the parents who demand specific numbers as a reflection of the values of the school?
When and how did we allow ourselves to be defined by this annual ritual is a question I often ponder about.
When did we as a community decide to write off our children because they failed to perform at the standard we expect of them?
When did we allow the teacher who cared to be revered less than the teacher with most A-grade students?
When did our lives become at the mercy of what we did in the last week of our school year?
Above all, when did our lives become equivalent to the outcome rather than the journey?
In a world that is ever changing, with dynamics that are beyond you and me, why are we still stuck in that rut? Especially when you and I have learnt that success in a particular exam does not necessarily mean success in life.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am a part of that system, and I too struggle with this dilemma.
Logic tells me to break away. To stop indulging the system, the competition, the expectations. But I continue to be sucked in as I pressure my kid to learn specifically worded responses, to write faster and stay focussed.
But it definitely helps to be aware. To realise that I am erring. It helps to question myself and to be reminded what our larger goals from schooling are.
- To help our children understand concepts, in a way that they are comfortable to engage with them and make them a part of their lives.
- To build relationships.
- To help them to adapt to changes and deal with challenges that come their way, be it a broken friendship, an embarrassment in life, a critical human or a new situation/environment.
- To help them build resilience so that they can deal with success and failures and keep moving on.
- To teach them to persevere and not give up easily or buckle under pressure.
- To understand, truly understand respect, sharing, community living, privacy, boundaries etc.
- To learn life skills like building networks, creating systems, finding solutions.
Those skills are not being graded. Those are not represented in the 25/25 or the A+ that they get home. No doubt, The A+ helps. It boosts their confidence. It helps children understand what they could or could not remember, calculate or communicate. It helps them get better, maybe push themselves. But to allow our entirety to revolve around that card, that number, that grade, is what we must defer from. And when the child comes home with anything less, if they do, it is important to remember that it is a singular factor in the many things that make him/her. They simply need better tools and maybe a little more time. Help your child get those.