Aptitude with the right attitude

Aptitude with the right attitude

Aptitude with the right attitude

Can parents, teachers and friends help students identify their aptitude and how much of influence do they wield in the selection of subject options and colleges? Aptitude with the right attitude is a prerequisite. No child should be relentlessly shaped, ever, to one pattern of behaviour.

The healthier alternative is to allow for more than one pattern to develop and to choose the one which is best suited to inherent skills. The months from March through June every year is stressful for students everywhere. As if the exam pressure is not enough, colleges start admission process simultaneously, throwing parents and children into a dither, trying to shortlist colleges based on subject options, reputation of the institution and the admission criteria.

This is an important milestone in a young scholar’s life, be it a transition from a school to a pre-university college or a graduate programme, within the city, country or overseas. Therefore, it has to be an informed decision and has to be weighed carefully against the scale of aptitude and attitudinal level of the student for a chosen subject or course.

Grades alone do not determine what a student should or can actually pursue. Bill Gates has stated repeatedly that it was his strong aptitude which helped him put bad grades behind him, as early in life as in the Class 9, and set out with determination to shape his own destiny. While bookish knowledge had failed him, diligence and discipline mapped his road to success.

A supportive role

A father, whose 15-year-old kid is facing the tail end of the ICSE board this month, declared feelingly, “As an educated parent, I am responsible for my son’s future and with my experience, I know what is good for him and I have naturally picked the best available course.” Best course available, yes. Is it the best pick for his son is what the father should have paused to reflect on.

How often have we heard the accusation “You manipulated me to choose the Science stream. I did it to please you.

I hate Maths.” The parent counters, “But you scored 92%,” and the child quietly states, “Does not mean I like the subject, I just worked hard.” This is precisely what Kahlil Gibran cautioned parents against. He felt that parents should understand that their unfulfilled dreams and desires cannot become and must not be expected to become their children’s dreams. A simple life lesson, which is becoming increasingly relevant in this time and age.

Parents can be of huge help when they recognise their place in a supporting role as facilitators and stop seeing themselves in the directorial chair. For the most part, youngsters know exactly what they want and what they don’t want. What they are looking for is encouragement and reassurance that we have their backs at all times, in every decision they make.

Igniting curiosity

Teachers are invaluable in the development of one’s physical, emotional, intellectual and social well-being. Dissemination of knowledge is only one part of their role as mentor and guide. Many teachers become role models for their students. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam believed that “Teachers have a great mission to ignite the minds of the young.”

A sensitive and alert teacher shares just enough to make the student curious and then enables the learning process by giving them the freedom to think, question, research and discover for themselves. And then we have the unimaginative, didactic and rigid kind who kills any interest you ever had for the subject. Fortunately, these are few and far between. Now with virtual learning platforms, teacher and the taught are on a dynamic wavelength allowing for sustained learning.

Quell peer pressure

While friends will believe in your potential, your enemies will make you live up to it. Peer pressure can be both positive and negative. True friends will egg you on, even tease you out of your reticence to explore your strengths and when you do, your foes are ready at hand to undermine you. Teen years are filled with friends and social groups and one can be swayed by popular opinion. Friends are good for pulling you away from an undesirable habit, by intervening.
Friends are definitely important when you need a sounding board. But the ground reality remains that they have been around for only as long as you have, so they are learning too and exploring their potentials just like you. “We friends discuss and debate every issue under the sun. We hear out opinions, but my decisions are my own because no one knows me better than I,” opines Heather, a Class 12 student who is pretty sure what she wants to do.

Dr Anupama, principal of a college, sums up neatly, “Identifying aptitude is only one side of the coin. The other and equally important side is the attitude of the mind, the passion, and the motivation to achieve.”