Results day! Even more dreadful day than the examination times itself. Parents and children both wait for the results with a baited breath; it is a culmination of their parenting. Would you be able to say proudly to everyone about your child’s performance or would you avoid phone calls?
The anxiety called examination results:
Right now there would be contrasting environment in various households. From ecstasy to aggression against children, based on what they scored.
Results day! Even more dreadful day than the examination times themselves. Parents and children both wait for the results with abated breadth; it’s a culmination of their parenting. Would you be able to stay proudly to everyone about their child’s performance or would you avoid phone calls.
For children it’s about would they get the promised ‘prizes’ or would they be subjected to a week of so called ‘counseling’ by parents, relatives, friends parents, tuition center coordinators, teachers, principal. How they would be told that they have potential, they are intelligent and its only if you could concentrate more, manage the time they waste on facebook, internet, games and sleeping, it will help them fetch better scores.. It is déjà vu for a lot of children. Going through this process year on year and yet not being able to break the trend.
For parents whose children have scored exceptionally well may think that this article is not applicable for them. I would say that this is more applicable for them as we need to create a new context of examination and results which would support them and their children in the long run.
First let’s look at the whole concept of examination and the purpose of examination and then examine the ecstasy and the travails of marks.
EXAM: The most dreadful 4 letter word!! Even before we grew up to realize what a ‘4 letter word’ means – this 4 letter word ‘Exam’ had more impact on our mental, physical and emotional state than any other 4 letter word in the world.
And we always thought we would definitely do better than this with our children! Have we… I am afraid not.
The stress of examination has only increased. The number of suicides because of examination / stress of education is only increasing year on year. Depression, psychological disorders, stress, BP and diabetes during childhood – it’s all increasing.
The educational thinkers of our times thought they have cracked the ‘examination stress’ code by inventing the CCE. (Continuous and comprehensive evaluation). A system which would take away the load of measuring only the academic excellence and have children who are not academically ‘gifted’ some relief. Great thought! Sadly from thoughts to action the entire context has been lost!
Now we have started measuring children on all aspects – values, participation, self confidence, appearance, projects, sports etc. and again the only measure we have is ‘marks’ and promotion to the next grade based on the marks.
What goes wrong again is that these aspects which are supposed to be AN ASSESSMENT TOOL – have become the end, measuring HOW WELL the child has DONE! And that brings about the end to the intention and thought behind CCE.
Come examinations – actually doesn’t matter if you call them Unit tests, 1st term examination, midterm examinations, half yearly or SA (Summative Assessment)! – It’s the same old story or rather old story with fresh new punches.
“It’s a competitive world out there!”;
“You need to be the best”;
“You have the potential, if only you could concentrate/work a bit harder”
“You are taking this too lightly” ……
These communications starts with children class 2 onwards!!! No sports, no TV, no parties, no movies, no outings.. The list (read restrictions) is endless.
STOP!! Where are you going… Or worse where are you taking them to.
Can we parents take responsibility of the situation!
Examination – the paradigm shift
Exam is just a process to measure yourself against where you yourself are and where you want to be!!! PERIOD – it’s not about the other person faring better or worse.
It’s for us to measure ourselves. The child to measure himself and then formulate the way forward! E.g. if a Child score 60%. Examination the assessment tool says – the child knows / scores 60 out of 100. Now if he wants to be at an 80 or a 90 then the results can be used to chart out the future course of action. Help him assess the gaps so that the child can focus on the gaps and achieve what he wants to vs. he being adjudged a failure / ‘nalayak’.
Examination is an assessment tool for the child himself and not for the teachers or parents to make a judgment on the knowledge, skills, attribute, attitude of their children.
The second part of the equation: is the focus given to marks as applicable to life as we think it is? Remember your school days. We have our classmates scoring less than us, scoring higher than us and their position, success, fulfillment in life has no relationship with the marks they scored. They may have scored much less than us but when we meet them / see them 20 years hence we can’t help but say “you! At this level! Doing this! I can’t believe this!”
At the end if you really examine it wasn’t marks which gets us anywhere (true that it provides an opportunity) but it’s our attitude, skills, confidence, self esteem, and endurance which holds us in the long run.
The way forward:
- Let’s focus and nurture the child’s self esteem, self confidence and the will to get up and face a set back vs. telling him how ‘less’ he is.
- And let’s look at examination results as an assessment tool to plan out the next steps. Sitting with your child to understand the gaps and plan out the future.
Every day of life is a test of your endurance, ability, sensitivity, humanity, tolerance, skills, knowledge… But what are we preparing our children for – a periodic exam at school!! – Let’s make exams so routine that life and its ups and downs becomes just another day to live, enjoy and move forward!!