Marks don’t matter to kids, only to adults.
As a child, marks didn't matter to me because I had no real comprehension of them. Marks were a number that told me how well I did.
What changed things for me, and many others like myself, was a group of moms. These select few moms had everything about education figured out. They intimidated my usually chilled mom, who went into mom overdrive, and enrolled me in a bunch of tuitions.
By the time I was in 10th grade, (the business year), I had 10 subjects to study. I took tuition classes for 9 of them, with the exception of physical education; and believe me if there were P.E. tuitions I would be in them. This went on for a year. I didn’t have a day off in a year, and I wasn't even one of the extreme cases. Nevertheless, I was in a perpetual state of mental and physical exhaustion. “It’s your final year now, you have to slog,” people said. But why exactly did I have to slog? What was the point of torturing myself for a sizeable chunk of my life? That question remains unanswered.
Most tuition classes have a larger capacity than school classrooms. Image source: jansatta.com
For some people, the pressure is real. Not everyone has the ability to get into a good college without having the requisite marks. So they study hard, work day and night to earn the right to the best form of higher education they can.
But sometimes that isn't enough. For most people the 10th grade board results are the first real big academic event. What if the results aren't in your favour? What if the moment you’ve worked so hard for isn't to be. What if after all that pressure, all that effort you put in, that one thing you really want doesn't come to fruition? How do you face your parents, how do you face society?
For a lot of people, it’s easier to end their lives than deal with their ‘failure’, and its a lot more people than you think.
According to a 2015 estimate, there is one student suicide every hour in India.
A 24 year old student, Arjun Bhardwaj live streamed his suicide. Image source: ndtvimg.com
How are we, as a society, fine with young boys and girls ending their lives because of the marks they get? How have we accepted this situation as a reality?
And the situation is just getting worse. A few days ago, a young student brutally killed his own mother because she was repeatedly admonishing him for his poor exam performance.
As a country, we’re basically sending a message out that equates bad exam results with death, which in my opinion, is the most terrible thing to associate with education.
On a personal note, I don’t once remember having been asked which subject I liked the most. I knew which one I was best at, but I don’t know which I liked the most. I don’t really know anything about the stuff I learnt in school, because to be honest it was all rote learned. From all the data I memorised, this is what stuck with me:-
Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.
That one statement goes on to define my schooling years, especially the last few. I mugged up stuff that I had no understanding of.
There were numerous occasions during my schooling that I considered giving up
With the army of tutors around me, I eventually did well in my 10th grade exams. But if you were to send me back to those years, and give me the option of doing it all over again, without the tuitions, I would. I would happily reduce my percentage by even 20% in order to have that year back. I had no fun at all that year, and that is a very important part of school.
The current education system is robbing children of a childhood experience and needs to be thoroughly examined and changed. People wouldn't take tuitions if they had a little more faith in school teachers. Tuition fees are on the rise, and teachers feel underpaid. In theory, the money being spent on a child’s education does not need to be increased, but simply relocated. Instead of tuitions, school teachers’ salaries can be increased and money can be diverted toward their training.
Rather than pressure, students require reassurance during stressful times in their formative years. Image source: indiatimes.com
Cutoffs really need to reduce, and for that, the scaling of marks needs to end. This years ICSE topper secured a 99.4%. While I’m sure the topper is a very smart person, I’m not entirely sold on the notion that this individual lost only around 3.5 marks out of a possible 600.
But most importantly, authority figures need to ensure children that everything is going to be alright. Marks are not an indicator of intelligence, nor should your board result be a status symbol. Beyond a point, if you are destined to do great things, in any field, your board results will not stop you. No matter what your result is, if you have worked hard on it, it is something to be proud of and should never be looked at with shame. Don’t let the pressure win.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Rahul Sawhney
Cover photo credit: indiatoday.in