Teacher as a benevolent guide

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Teacher as a benevolent guide

School, parents as well as students, should all think individually and maybe collectively, as to the levels the examination stress has reached today. The system may have social acceptability, but one has to steer clear of trends and developments that impact children

Indian healthy food, proper sleep, less distractions, no stress — these are the tips most often given in households when children are preparing to sit for board examinations. With board examinations on, students are seen gripped with tension and anxiety, and so are their parents who also seem to be appearing for their board examinations again. When the child is already under pressure of uncertainties of the question papers, the questions like, has the student studied enough for the syllabus; what other classmates or friends are studying and how much will be recalled in the examination hall, add to the anxiety. In the good old days teachers and elders used to advice ‘thorough’ study to score well. Now, the structure of question papers makes it imperative to study the complete curriculum.

Prescribed or NCERT books are no longer sufficient to ‘cover’ the possible syllabus, particularly in subjects like mathematic, physics, economics, etc. Students are seen grappling with several voluminous books for each subject, other than the seemingly inadequate and insufficient prescribed books. Parents and students find themselves in a charged atmosphere which can be explained in one word: Anxiety. Children have their own goals to perform better — some of them aspiring to top the board, others to outperform the topper of the class or school, and almost all of them to exceed their own potential. Examinations have become a nightmare for some.

With the unbelievably high percentages of marks, equally high cut-offs for admission to university and ever-increasing ‘difficulty level’ of entrance examinations to top engineering and medical colleges, the anxiety is bound to escalate. Who is to blame for this conundrum and who can soothe the perched nerves? On the one hand are parents beset with the mindset to encourage and inspire kids to outdo all others. On the other, the school has to squeeze the syllabus latest by January so as to allow adequate preparation time. Both add to the travails of examinees. The grades of Class XII are, no doubt, important, but equally important is the choice of subjects made, since they form the stepping stone of one’s career and  act as a qualification for further studies and jobs.

In order to make the right choice of subjects, students should be decisive about the career path they want to pursue in their lives. It is better to make a informed choice of subjects and career path at this point than to be disheartened and disillusioned later. The choice of an apt career in synergy with the aptitude and calibre of an individual can have a huge impact on his/her well-being later on, since one tends to spend a majority of one’s time of life in making a career. American author Napoleon Hill once wisely remarked, “No man can succeed in a line of endeavour which he does not like.”

If students do not select the correct combination of subjects, they could find themselves not getting admission into the preferred programme in graduation. For instance, for programmes such as Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Computer Science, BTech in any field, a student needs to study mathematics in Class XII and score well. English and mathematics are two subjects most often included in the best four score while seeking admission to colleges.

Enjoying a subject and making a career in the same are two different things. Can we also devise a system to test and judge inherent the capability and interests of a student? The education system up to Class XII aims at making one equipped for either an entrance examination or seeking admission to graduation in science, arts, commerce and other streams. Nowadays, most colleges and universities offer a vast bouquet of electives through which a student can pursue his or her hobby while making a career. But by that time, most of the nascent aptitude becomes conditioned and  one is left chasing a ‘job’. Somewhere, we leave behind an opportunity to make the individual skilled to make a ‘livelihood’.

A timely realisation of the respective importance of ‘job’ versus ‘livelihood’ may make many a life purposeful, and we may not come across hordes of young people doing something which they never wanted to do.

With so many hereto unheard of career options becoming popular, choosing the right subjects has become a labyrinth for students flooded with information and unsolicited advice from anyone they happen to meet. In such cases, parents have the most crucial role to play in helping their children to identify the real calling of their lives, owing to their rich experience coupled with the information they gather through different mediums. However, it is still seen that parents also at times force their unachieved dreams of a ‘perfect’ career onto their wards.

 Parents have become open and supportive of career options in new and emerging areas such as nanotechnology, robotics, nuclear technology, etc, and encourage their children to opt for the programmes that suit the student’s interest, skills and inclination. Students, sometimes under peer pressure, opt for a particular subject combination or career path because of the high regard or esteem accorded to a particular profession in society: For instance, to engineering or medicine.

Going back to examinations, it is commendable that steps have been taken to replace percentage with grades. But hardly anything is done to a system that tries to carry the student up to the point of his/her weakness rather than try to judge by the strength. But that is a problem everywhere — parents deciding which stream to follow; teachers not able to identify, assess, encourage and counsel; students more influenced by what friends are doing than what they can do better. Both home as well as school are grievously at fault — the first for its wilfulness and the other for its lack of will.

Does the responsibility of school end with catching up with the syllabus? There are hardly teachers who narrate to the class their own experiences. As an evaluator of board examination answer-sheets, do they critically apply themselves in classrooms as much as to the evaluation task? Much of that could help students in correcting their preparation and answer writing skills.

School, parents as well as students, should all think individually and maybe collectively, as to the levels the examination stress has reached today. It can be a reflection of the changing social outlook and values, but as an individual one has to steer clear of trends and developments that have been seriously impacting children. An examination need not necessarily be a test of intelligence and knowledge; let it be a test of how best to strike a balance between goals and capacity, and life and aspirations.

(The writer is an educationist)

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