Feb 24, 2015: The link between the end of school breaks and a rise in child frustration highlights the need to reduce school pressures on students. Sure, there are plenty of learning going on in schools. However, all too often that learning is linked to the push to excel and compete, a pressure that many students find hard to handle and rightly per human creation. Schools need to connect learning to exploration, art, creativity and individual growth, and establish an atmosphere filled with nurture and care, along with academic opportunity.
If looked at in the right way, examinations are not frightening experiences but challenges, they are actually exciting opportunities for progress. In this institution we look at assessments as tools for learning and not tests of learning. Therefore, making mistakes at this stage only helps us understand what our weaknesses are and gives us an opportunity to address them. Not be unduly obsessed with marks. When the test papers come home, celebrate what they have achieved and do not fret over the mistakes that they have made. The marks or scores if looked at positively, can have great learning opportunities hidden in them.
A child’s small story:
A little girl had returned from school nervous because she had scored only 3/10 in her English exam. She showed her paper to her father and was bracing herself for a scolding. But much to her surprise, her father looked at the paper carefully and gently asked her,” How much is that over 100?” The little girl was baffled but quickly calculated and gave the right answer.
Her father smiled, gave her a pat on the shoulder and said, “Great! You know your Maths well. Now go and play.”
This little girl who had once failed in English went on to do her PhD in the same subject. She is today a prolific writer and has had a very successful career as a professor of English in a reputed university. The enlightened father was none other than Professor Iyengar, an eminent scholar and a visionary. Work together and focus on the true aim of education, help our children develop self confidence and abjure needless tension.
Schools need to help ensure students do not feel isolated or abandoned even during vacation. Schools can do better to ensure that the start of school does not kick in fears of failure and pressures to succeed. Parents need to be open to listening to students and taking time to hear what they have to say, rather than cranking up the expectations for academic success and some development agenda hype promoted by cronies and company everywhere. Children can narrate very raw and curious examples of human evolution without conditioning… which many adults though learned in their schools forgot in modern development obsession and growth jugaad. Learning how to talk and listen to children during their vacation times is a difficult parenting skill, but one that is extremely important for peaceful existence of our species!