CBSE results are out. And the Maharashtra Board results are just a few days away. The tension is slowly mounting. Last year, around this time, I met a girl from my neighbourhood who had just come to know of her HSC results.
She seemed absolutely down in the dumps. Assuming that she’s failed, or at the very least, performed real bad, I inquired as mildly as I could, about the cause of her gloominess. She was bit uncomfortable initially, but after gentle prodding, she gave in.
Her response jolted me. She said she was embarrassed to face her Mathematics teacher because she had obtained “only” 98 out of the maximum of 100 in her Mathematics paper.
Till I had met this girl, I was under the impression that with grades like these, students would be rejoicing, celebrating and even distributing sweets to one and all. But it was not so.
On the other extreme, Dr Anil Tambe, a prominent doctor from Thane revealed to me another shocking case related to the board results.
Last year he discharged a 15-year-old girl (name withheld) from his hospital. This girl was admitted to his hospital on the previous day because she had apparently consumed rat poison in an attempt to commit suicide. Why? She had failed in her tenth standard (CBSE) exams!
Both the above cases signal a disturbing trend that has come to besiege the board exams. With increasing competition and peer pressure, board results have become perhaps the biggest source of stress, trauma and paranoia among students.
Each year more than a hundred thousand students appear for board exams across the country.
Most of them attach more importance to the results than is warranted. And as we’ve seen from the cases above, this applies to all kinds of students, not just the so-called dull students but also the brilliant ones who score extremely well.
The Common Entrance Test (CET) has lessened the importance of board results to some extent, but the pressure to clear the CET remains.
The responsibility and blame for the unrealistic pressure does not lie with the students alone. Parents, teachers and the society share the responsibility equally.
For instance, regardless of their expectations from their children, it’s important for parents to declare unequivocally that they love their children.
Parents must let children know that they love them in spite of, not because of, their performances. An old saying goes, “A child needs love the most when he least deserves it.”
Another important aspect is that both parents and students would do well to remember is that these exams and entrance tests do not evaluate an individual’s ability to do well in life. They test memory, mathematical abilities and, to some extent, scientific aptitude.
Gifts and talents such as music, art, sports, and business acumen are largely ignored.
But it is a well-known fact that doing well in academics is not a pre-requisite for doing well in life just as doing poorly in school and college is not a recipe for failure. Dhirubhai Ambani, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and many other luminaries like them are evidence of this.
This is not to discount education entirely but to emphasise that exams are only one of the many aspects that determine how your careers are shaped.
So when the results of board exams and CET are declared this year, parents must discuss “what next” with the children rather than dwelling on their performance, especially if you are disappointed with the scores.