Do away with score comparisons
WHAT’S YOUR SCORE
Is your child experiencing nervous jitters waiting for exam results? Prof D G Kulkarni urges parents to be supportive and objective during this ‘testing’ time
The month of May is a time when kids question their abilities as a student. “Does my skill match expectation?”, they often ask themselves.
The month of May is also cloaked in the tension of examination results. Whose expectations? The student’s, parents or the teacher’s?
It is common to hear of students experiencing headaches, indigestion, giddiness, nausea, sleepless nights, nightmares, lethargy, mood swings, irritation, palpitation, agitation, feeling of isolation and, in some cases, depression. If your child is showing signs of one of the above-mentioned changes in behaviour, then, as parents, you need to take charge of the situation and plan for damage control.
Students and parents face tremendous stress during exams, before and soon after the results are announced. Who is responsible for this? Is it our society? Or is it the competition? What is bothering many parents is the expectation and this builds up stress in a child and his/her parents. It’s given that all parents wish to see their child top the class every year. But I urge parents to ask themselves this: “Is this the right spirit of education? Aren’t you stressing your child out with unrealistic expectations?”
Having an objective and a goal is important, but comparison can be fatal. Parents often wait for the results and the first question they ask is “Where do you stand?” Next questions: “Why did you get less marks in this subject? How did your friend score more than you, despite us spending thousands of rupees on tuitions?”
Parents start treating their children like a promissary note.
Parents tend to forget that they are parents today because they have been blessed with wonderful children and all children cannot be the same. How about this — are all parents the same? Would it be appropriate if your child compared you with the parents of his/her friends, in terms of appearance, financial status, and education skills? Why are we, as parents, pushing our children to the wall?
Whatever be the result, parents first need to reassure their children that, irrespective of the outcome of the result, they will always be loved. Have a positive talk on the eve of the results and soon after they are announced. Tell your child, “You have put all your hard work and we appreciate that.
So we are not worried about the results.” The second and lower rank holders are not “utter losers”. Test results do not decide a person’s destiny but the carving of destiny starts here. Parents should see and appreciate their child’s scores in some subjects rather than focus on those in which he/she has not done well.
You could say, “Very good! You have scored well in all the subjects but you should do better in Mathematics next time.” Parents should instantly dispel the feeling of guilt in their child. Discuss these results with friends and neighbours honestly. Why hide? It’s a personal choice to share.
Remember that each child is specially gifted. Average students in school almost never lead mediocre lives as professional success is not determined by the scores received in a Math test in school. I have seen many students who excelled in school and college, and have had many speed breakers in their life.
Children must be taught the value of an education and knowledge, and not scores and averages. Examination results are a reflection of the coincidence of what your child has studied and what was asked in the examination. In no way does it represent the intelligence level of a child.
Teachers in school are very excited about the school results. Why not? Again comparison! When the media takes it upon itself to publicise the results of a school or student, we, as a society, are allowing for more emphasis on this trend. Does the media question the school on the provisions made for those who have failed? As we appreciate the successful students, we need to reassure those who could not make it. The successful student will otherwise also do well. If the teacher sows the seeds of confidence in his/her student, he/she is doing society a huge favour.
Depression and nervous breakdowns can be avoided by reassurance, support and reposing faith in the child. Parents should keep the home atmosphere lively to avoid tense situations. Avoid reminding the children, time and again, of the date of the results.
Preferably, accompany your child to school to receive the scores. Being able to comfort them if they have not performed to their expectations is the greatest parental skill. Exams can come again, but not life.
(The author is dean of the dept. of MBA, Jain College of Engineering, Belgaum.)