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As we sat in a popular restaurant for dinner, the next table ( with 2 ladies and 4 kids) was greeted by a family that had just entered. Apparently they knew each other. Soon we heard "She got a 9.2 CGPA so we are here to celebrate", the mother of one of the girls announced. Within a second she followed the announcement with a question to the boy who was with the family that had entered "What was yours,beta?" The other mother quickly came to her son's rescue "He is in 8th standard and has 2 more years to go". This was followed by a discussion on schools and their results ( while the restaurant staff patiently waited to settle the new guests.)
This conversation took me three days back when I met a young boy of 18 with his father. They had come to our Skills Academy looking for a course on personality development. As I asked the young man to tell me about himself, he gave his name and his percentage in class X+II( as the results had been declared 2 days earlier). My immediate response was "Your marks are not your introduction. We need to know you as a person."
With toppers and percentages figuring in headlines on the front page on the day the results are declared and the related news continuing to occupy that space for almost a week or fortnight post that, are we really in the mode of releasing the pressure on our kids and us? First the results and toppers, next day an interview of the toppers and what they did to study and get such awesome marks, then the coaching institutes, then the schools who topped ! On one hand we talk of not pressurizing our kids and on the other we create so much buzz around results and toppers. I do not mean to take away their credit. A student who performs well deserves accolades but why are we overdoing it? In a way, this focus on results and toppers creates pressure in the education system and gives a push to commercialization of education.
When a child passes class 10 and X+II, he or she crosses milestone of his or her life. That needs to be celebrated. The CGPA or rank in an entrance exam should not take away the importance of this precious juncture. We actually overemphasize excellence and bemoan loss of precious lives due to pressure - all in one go - in the same print space and on the same news channels. Is that responsible media and a responsible community or for that matter responsible parenting? If class X and X+II results are being announced on social media and in social Do's and chance encounters in restaurants, then we need to stop and take stock of what we are doing before talking about the system putting pressure on kids.
As parents, it is important that we instil the spirit of excelling in our kids but it is equally important that we celebrate our kids, their little joys and not only their achievements. Do we stop and ask the students of class 10 and X+II how they feel when they finish school? or How they feel when they are at the threshold of deciding what they will do in life? Or how they feel when they are about to step out of the secure environments of the school and group of friends they have known till now?
Coming back to the restaurant, as I saw the 9.2 CGPA girl smiling and enjoying the obvious pride I also heard the mother of the other girl whispering to her "I hope they do not ask yours! How can I say 7.8?" The look on the other kid's face made me feel guilty as a parent and I wish I could tell her "She loves you a lot - just that she is facing peer pressure."