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The season of the 10th and 12th board results is upon us. It is a season of apprehension, expectations, hope and sometimes despair. A little over a decade ago, I was in the same boat. But things have changed from then to now and changed a lot, I must say. I’m not sure if it’s for the better though.
Results are now not limited to something that is between the student, her family and teachers. It has become a tool for show-off and ridicule. It has become the starting point of many things vicious. I truly don’t recall it being so in my time. There was competition, of course, fierce too but the nastiness that accompanies it today, I don’t think it was present then.
Results these days are a tool of mockery and show off, not just about the student’s future.
Today the need to flaunt a child’s performance is at such a point that childhood suffers. The curriculum, anxious parents and teachers are robbing that one precious and sacred aspect of our life, a carefree childhood. Children of 5 are having to give computer exams. Students do not have any time to just be themselves without having to keep a schedule. There are before school activities, school activities and then after school activities. Where is the time to live then? They are getting a glimpse into the grown-up life too early in life and it’s not fair at all. And then there is the burden to score only above 90 because anything below just seems unacceptable to all, educational institutions, teachers, parents and even students.
There is something wrong with our approach to education and also the way education is imparted. Marks have become the sole focus. Believe me, that’s no measure or guarantee of success. I scored more than my husband during Engineering but today he is more successful than me. See my point?
These blinkers we have put on to concentrate on marks have even made scoring as high as 99% in languages a reality which honestly I’m unable to fathom. Any literature student will tell you how ridiculous it sounds. Unless of course, it’s a multiple choice question paper which has become the pattern these days then maybe yes. Even that is absurd if you ask me. But when you write essays, summaries or interpretation of adages, which were a part of the curriculum in my time, how can you score so high? It makes no sense. I remember scoring in the 90s in Mathematics & Science but when it came to languages it was pretty unusual to even get above 70 for that’s how the scoring was done. And it made sense too.
Then there is the ludicrous saga of cut-offs these days. Again, ridiculously high. As a result, we end up putting more pressure on the children. In doing so we inadvertently teach them that marks are everything. Surely that cannot be good? And it just pushes other dominos down. Getting admission in a good college becomes impossible pushing us towards colleges which charge humongous amounts for the same. The byproduct of all these is an education industry which is driven by money and not by the concern of educating the next generation.
The rot is not only in educational institutions but has seeped into our mindset as well. I recently overheard a conversation between two mothers who wanted to find an IIT coaching institute for their kids who are in the 8th standard. I have also heard parents planning the same for children just in the 4th or 5th standards. Why are we pushing the kids so hard instead of letting them discover themselves?
We don’t give any free time to kids. We don’t let them get bored so that they can find themselves. If Alice lived in today’s world, I tell you, she would have never found her wonderland. There is always some must-do activity or device to keep the children hooked. How will the children find their interests or inclinations if we just don’t let them be?
This dash for marks is slowly drawing the breath out of childhood and I don’t find that comforting at all.
There is another dark side to this focus on marks. A couple of years back, probably in 2013, I was watching a panel discussion on TV about marks and results. The panel had toppers who had scored 99% or some such. Then there were teachers, parents and some students who had got about 80%. A question was posed to one of the toppers. What would she do if she had got ‘just 80%’? Very nonchalantly she added that she had never scored less than 90 in her academic life. But she didn’t stop there. She went on to point at her classmate in the panel who had scored around 80% to say that probably she would have an idea on what to do when you scored badly.
Do we now have to worry about marks-shamming? #Education Click To Tweet
What irked me was neither the parents nor the teachers flinched at this. A social worker in the audience pointed it out but by then the damage was done. I don’t blame the girl because that’s what she has been taught all her life. Marks are important. Scoring in the 90s is good but anything else is bad. That’s why on national television she was able to point at her classmate disparaging. Are we creating toppers who have no empathy or understanding? Are we just churning out robots? Do we now have to worry about marks-shamming?
It may sound strange now but students and even parents weren’t like this in my time. I was one of the toppers in my state but I never made fun or ridiculed anyone who scored less than me. But that doesn’t happen anymore, does it?
Condescension was never looked at as confidence back then but it is becoming more and more so now. There is something very wrong with this race for marks. We are smothering childhood and regard for another individual as a result. And somewhere I think the quality of education is also suffering in this hankering for marks.
Marks are important but not so much. People can do well in life even if they score less. And it’s a fact. Why do we forget to tell the children that? Every time I read a newspaper article about a student suicide whether due to bad results or not being able to crack that entrance exam, that panel discussion comes to my mind. What have we done that marks now lead innocent children to death?
We are missing the point here completely. Education is not the same as the percentage one scores. One’s character is not the same as the percentage one scores. Percentages do not ensure success and happiness in life. Having one does not ensure the other. But I wonder how many students know this now? I wonder how many parents believe this. I worry because I have a daughter to raise in this environment.
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