The story of most households before an examination:
He suddenly wakes up with the alarm ringing on his phone. He snoozes it only to be jolted awake by his mother who looks ten times more stressed than him. He stares into her eyes in a half-sleepy state and remembers the lecture his father gave him a few nights ago.
He was expected to score much better than Sharmaji’s daughter and secure admission in a college without the help of his father or his father’s money. In the meantime, his father has begun making contacts who have sources in different colleges across the city so his son gets a decent education.
The son has spent several nights, rote-learning concepts he never understood, simply because the subject was scoring and the examiner was never going to find out whether he really knew the subject or simply had a good memory.
His mother cuts off all internet and tv connections and prevents him from meeting his friends. He suffocates to spend so much time indoors and stresses over marks, the future and competition. The food cooked is suddenly over nutritious at home, with the constant supply of almonds to sharpen his memory.
Then comes the day of the examination. He reaches early and sees all his friends, sitting with books only a few minutes before the start of the examination, hoping to extract some amazing knowledge in the last minute. He too follows suit and spends the last few minutes browsing through the textbooks instead of sitting down and calming down his mind.
The bell rings, the question paper is right in front of his eyes and bang – he is blank! Instead of the voices of Einstein and Aryabhatta, his parent’s voices coaxing him to score more fill his already drained and frustrated mind. He passes, but only barely. And spends the rest of his life believing he is dumb.
That is the sad truth that is repeated every year, in millions of households and educational institutions.
Albert Einstein had once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb the tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
Some people have set certain rules on how to study, on how to score well in spite of knowing that every mind functions differently. There is a focus on quantity of hours spent on studying rather than the quality of the study. Exams become a child’s sole character certificate as a student, even if the student barely understands what he simply wrote in the paper.
Exams are a test of memory. Not of aptitude or knowledge. Not of skill or competence.
Every year, before major examinations, the newspapers are flooded with articles about students committing suicide due to pressure. The same scenario is reproduced in a worse degree when the results are declared. Students take their lives because they scored low marks that were awarded by an ill-paid, over-burdened examiner who had hundreds of papers to assess.
We are all hell-bent on creating Jacks – “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
While we won’t be commenting upon the efficiency of our education system in this article, we will be asking ourselves if we have over-emphasized examinations. Successful people have studied in schools and colleges which lack in all kinds of infrastructure while ‘posh’ educational institutions have produced suppressed, confused individuals who are struggling to find their identities.
The pressure we put on students to get into a good college is completely unreasonable. Those who really want to do something out of their life, first need to find their calling. Pressurising and comparing will harm your child’s self-respect.
This pressure makes them stressed out. This stress affects their performance in every field of life.
They might be amazing dancers, writers, musicians – they may be unrecognised and suppressed geniuses who are constantly being weighed down over exam mountains that erupt lava that does nothing else but burn.
A student learns throughout the year – not a few hours before the exam. Test them on knowledge, not on memory. Don’t judge them by their grades. There is a life above and beyond that. Life is multi-dimensional. And just like the universe, there are many dimensions that we haven’t explored in life.
Take a deep breath. Don’t stress. Exams are not a parameter to judge intelligence or ability.