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July 02, 2018 Monday 06:09:38 PM IST


Cover Story

So the top grade is all. As though our survival is entirely contingent on high marks. Now does that explain, at least in part, the number of suicides our young commit owing to thedeep obsession with marks encouraged by our parents, the community, and the system. Do the marks mean more than the precious lives of our young ones?

There is no gainsaying the academic perseverance of that young lady who scored 499/500 marks at the CBSE exams. By all means, it is a terrific achievement, but one that poses some fundamental questions. Does our system place an overwhelming emphasis on the value of ‘scoring’ such high grades? Does such achievement bear any reference to a child’s understanding of a given subject or competence?

There is clear and present evidence that the tools needed to navigate life and its complexities are often not derived from top grades. A person needs more than just topmarks, he or she needs character formation, effective communication skills, creativity and problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, values, and ethics, just to mention a few.

It is disheartening to note that there is a valorisation of top grades whilst relegating the internalisation of the above attributes to the background. I recall how a teacher once warned me that I maynot make the cut if I didn’t answer the questions in theway prescribed by her. The only option to deliver as she expected me to was by memorising ‘answers’ word for word!

So, is memorisation the way?I have classmates who can memorise a subject of sixmodules all in one day! The most shocking part— they aren’table answer the same questions two days later. Something is awfully wrong.

What then is the way forward? We need an education system that defines learning as the sum total of character building, values, competence, and higher-orderunderstanding of concepts and their application to life. Parents must encourage their children to believe in themselves and should alsolove them unconditionally irrespective of the marks they score.

This will help children understand that life is not defined solely by top grades! Let’s do away with this soul-killing marks-driven system.

Together, we can make a change.