MARKS ARE THE ONLY THING THAT MATTER… IS IT?

Yesterday I had a very long discussion with the English language teacher about my younger son. She said that my little one was quiet intelligent but the issue was he is very laidback. Happy and content with whatever marks he gets. He is not competitive, not obsessed with marks. Which is good, but not in India. She said “I wish he was born in Australia or the US then this would have been a good trait, but sadly not in India. Here marks matter. Actually marks are the only thing that matter.”

I was so worried and I spoke to him about it and he said “Mamma I don’t want to be like my other classmates” He has a friend who walked up to him after the unit test marks were declared yesterday with a very sad face and said “I am so upset I didn’t get good marks in any subject. I just got 18 out of 20 in most subjects not more than that.” My son said I felt like hitting him on the head and saying 18 is very good. Why aren’t you celebrating?”

It is actually a sad state of affairs these days. We all want full marks, percentage above 95 even 93 is not good enough.

Being a mother of one child who is in grade X and going to give board exam this year and the second one very close behind in grade VIII. I constantly battle with this issue almost every day.

I am dreading the day the board results would be declared. Relatives and friends and even acquaintances would demand to know how my elder son fared in the Battle of Class X Board Exams. Did his cut through the shield of 90% and emerge victorious? Or did he manage to just scrape through? (because anything less than 90% is scraping through). If I am feeling so much tension imagine what kind of pressure the child must be going through. Everywhere he goes he gets reminded that he has to give boards this year. Even I am guilty of this. I must be repeating this phrase at least 5-10 times a day “Board exams hain beta serious hoja, padh le” (Get serious and study you have to give board exams this year).

But then this is how the education system works in our country. More emphasis is on rote learning and writing it out in the exam. Understanding and gaining knowledge even though important is secondary to scoring. Your score will get you admission in a good college. Or the second option is to expect your parents to shell out huge sum of money as donation to get you in. Now donation option is not possible for 80% of Indian population as they can’t afford to pay such huge amount of money.

The education scene is changing slowly. With so many education boards available like CBSE, ICSE, State Boards and international boards like IB & IGCSE, parents have a choice to decide what kind of education do they want to provide to their children. Each board is providing something different for to the students. Schools are experimenting with new methods of education like the Waldorf education program etc. The education system is trying to move away from rote learning to skill based learning. But we still have to travel a very long difficult road to reach there.

Till then we are stuck in an education system which values marks more than skills, more than the individuals itself.

Every year we hear of so many suicides committed by students because they could not face their exams or could not face the disappointment in their parent’s eyes after they got low scores. Even worse we saw a case last year when a class XI student killed another child of his school in a bid to postpone the open day. Imagine the dread he had about the day his parents would meet the teachers and see his result.

Even parents these days are a jittery lot. They tread a thin line between motivating and encouraging their kids to score good and at the same time worrying whether their son / daughter is under too much pressure, dreading that the child should not get so pressurised that he or she takes some drastic step.

I am myself so entrenched in this, I really can’t take me out of the situation and comment on it. All I can say is that “Yes marks do matter but only to get admission to higher studies. But getting less marks is not the end of the world. As they say when one door closes anther one opens. There are so many skill based courses available these days with which you can make a highly successful and well paying career.”

I have seen through personal experience that marks scored during school is not the only benchmark for success in life. I have seen backbenchers and low scorers during school time growing up and becoming CEOs and the toppers during school time getting just average jobs and vice versa too.