20 years back…
I was studying in a school under CBSE (Central board of Secondary Education, India) curriculum. I still remember my anxiety overpowering my fear on the day my exam answer papers were distributed. This meant my marks are going to be revealed. I was anxious because of my inherent inquisitive nature which existed even before I knew. I had fear because my parents would scold if my marks were bad. No one then knew that there were fast learners and also the slow learners in the same class. I never scored badly, yet the fear was instilled.
14 years back
I was still in school. I participated in oratorical competitions and quizzes. I was still anxious and scared of my exam scores. But this time I was afraid because I felt inferior if I didn’t see “good-marks” on my paper. I felt let down if my peers had a better score than me. I never scored badly, yet I became vulnerable.
10 years back
I was in the final stage of my high school. “Good-marks” was the buzz word. It was the year of board exams. Breakfast was served with marks. Then lunch, followed by dinner, and post dinner, it was marks. Everyone took the responsibility to make me aware of the ultimatum. It was not about my parents, but my long lost relatives and strangers. No one spoke about anything other than marks. Teachers looked down upon students who could not get the magical number in their exams! I didn’t score a fancy number which means I was never a teacher’s favorite! I never scored badly, yet I was made to believe I did.
6 years back
In my college days (that is my graduate course), people stopped talking about marks. All those who fed my mind with marks four years back were nowhere to be seen. I was probably brainwashed by then because I was pointlessly working vehemently and was one of the top five scorers in my class. Thankfully, I never believed in rote learning. I was still participating and leading some innovative clubs. There were still the last bench and the first bench students.
All those who fed my mind with marks long back are still nowhere to be seen. I work for an MNC, non IT, in the same field in which I did my engineering! I am not a product of my marks. Instead, I am a product of the skills that I had learnt from the extracurricular activities; the concepts that I had learnt through understanding my courses.
My personality is my identity.
How about my batch mates? (Facts from my personal experience)
This is a sample size of people who headed in the right direction with the right guidance and the result turned out to be positive. They are the people who realized and helped me understand that success is beyond good marks.
- The girl who was the topper in my class during middle school is a bank employee
- The guy who had eight arrears during his bachelor program, did his masters from one of the Tier 2 Universities in India and is earning three times more salary than his bachelor program batch mates who were toppers.
- The last bench guy who had the most number of arrears is comfortably making his living from his simple offbeat career choice.
- The girl who was once an under-performer during my school days, made it into a top University in the US for her post-graduation and also bagged one of the highest paying jobs in a top e-commerce site.
- A friend despite his engineering degree, did not accept his mainstream job offers but has been successfully running a café.
- Then there are my class mates who cracked the civil services exam. There are my people who were capable enough to get medicine admissions. This category of people happened because it was their dream. They knew how much efforts was required to achieve their goals. They didn’t need to be supervised. They knew their capabilities. They didn’t need parent’s constant reminders. They just knew it and they did it.
There are still many people who give-up on their aspirations and career goals just because they are not able to compete. We are unfortunately in a system which does not give us an opportunity to know our strengths, our weaknesses and our skills. We are not taught to learn and be agile but instead told to score well. Getting good marks is definitely important. But if one is not able to score despite hard work, they need the right guidance on what else they could do. Well! Guidance doesn’t mean telling that one will get admission in X College for n marks and in Y College for z rupees. Guidance means to widen students’ perspectives about opportunities.
In taking the first step towards betterment, can we counsel teachers and parents to act responsibly? Motivation & encouragement to succeed is essential and leads to progress. But discouragement causes delay. Sounds too corporate, but these are the fundamentals.While marks are also important depending on one’s goals, can we also feed them with indispensable life skills and make them aware about their career options which are much more important than these numbers? This way, we can save our kids and their future!