One-third of the WhatsApp status messages of my contact list have something in common. All of them are somehow related to exams and exam stress. And all of them are Moms, barring one, who himself is a student. And though I don’t have it up there as my status update, I am also under a lot of stress due to exams of my 8-year old kid. Yes, you read that right. 8-year old’s exams are giving me (and many others like me) a lot of stress. Suddenly life seems delimited by the exams and the results thereafter. Exaggerating! Am I?
In spite of many efforts to reduce the number of suicides owing to exams or results stress, the statistics are baffling. India has the highest rate of suicides in the world with suicide tendency highest across the age bracket of 15-29 years. One could conveniently argue that the reasons for suicides are many but National crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics prove that “failure in examination” is one of the major causes of suicides in India. Acknowledging “exam-stress” as one of the most daunting challenges for our kids today must be top most priority for us. And it begins at home.
Every education system is built to provide all-round development of kids. Ours is no different. If you look closely, the curriculum is designed to introduce all subjects and aspects of life to a child. This enables a child to identify his interests and pursue it later in life. However, it is our unreasonable expectations that infuse undue pressure into this arrangement and turns it into a vicious game of grades. What should be an interesting and fun-filled process of learning turns into a tiresome and unending battle forced upon naïve minds. The pursuit of grades crosses its boundaries and enters the lives of parents. Unknowingly we make it yet another standard of social status. So much so, that we as parents forget that there is life beyond grades too.
Yes, there is life beyond those monstrous grades. A child who wants to sing, a child who likes to draw and a child who likes to take science out of the books into the real world. One who likes to write poetry while another one is a master chef in making. All of them deserve to exist in a place which is beyond the confines of grades and percentiles. But to find them, we need to look up from the report card. We need to break the cycle of responding to social pressures of academic performance. Instead of asking them to “stop wasting time” and “concentrating on grades”, help them to identify a talent they want to pursue. That is where the excellence that we are mistakenly looking for in grades lies.
So dear parents…..next time when you have that bout of exam anxiety, think of the beautiful life beyond grades and remember:
- Grades are just numbers which will fade eventually. Your kid’s happiness is more important than that.
- Grades don’t build a person. Character does. And accepting failure with dignity is a sign of strong character.
- Don’t compare. At all. Respect uniqueness.
- Celebrate not only the results but the hard work too. Your kid deserves it.
Deepali Joshi Adhikary is a freelance writer/blogger/trainer outdoors and a kick-ass mom at home. Her experiences and opinions turn into words on her blog. She has a diverse writing portfolio which spans from light-hearted humor to the issues affecting the society, her parenting challenges and reviews of books. She also has keen interest in andragogy as well as pedagogy and loves to work with different age groups. When she is not writing or training or doting her kid, she likes to read. Connect with her @deepaliadhikary.