Metrolife: Chasing scores comes at a price

Mohammad Kaif Mulla, who scored 624 out of 625 in the Karnataka SSLC exams this year, requested a revaluation of his papers. When his revised score came, he had a perfect 625.

While many wonder how just a mark would matter to one in his position, counsellors see a rising compulsion among students to outrun their peers. School and college students have many reasons “to fight for that one mark”.

Rahul Singhania (name changed), a 12 standard student in a CBSE school, says, “While alternative careers are encouraged now, each mark helps to grab that top-executive job one is aiming for. They are especially needed for your first job interview.”

Raksha A, a fashion design student, says a rank or top grade is often a deciding factor. “My sister didn’t get her dream job at a top content writing agency because another candidate had 97 per cent in English and she had only 94,” she says.

Whatever the reasons, Mithan Subbiah, personal counsellor and consultant with Enconfide, says youngsters are more competitive than ever before.

“Of the school and college students that I meet, about 30 per cent are internally driven to excel, and 20 per cent are pushed by parents,” she says. Peer pressure is a major reason for such competition. “A classroom is divided into three sets of students: the toppers who sit in front, the average students, and the backbenchers. The competitive spirit builds up among students, depending on how their peers are faring,” says Mithan. Many students are academically efficient but are not able to handle real-life situations, which is why such competition is worrisome, she observes. 

Several academics say knowledge-seeking has to be encouraged more than bookish learning.

Vinod Singh, head of Trio World Academy school says, “We advise our students not to aim for marks but to explore knowledge.” 

An aggressive competitive spirit might make youngsters blind to real-life situations. They end up learning enough to score well in examinations and not necessarily to add to their skills, says Singh.       

Tasneem Nakhoda, counsellor with Tattva, says, “We find a lot of children internalising pressure of sorts today, pressure from parents, teachers and society at large.”

A significant percentage of children strive to be perfectionists. They don’t want to be a disappointment to their teachers, parents and themselves. Anxiety levels are way higher in these children, she points out.

Nerds don’t play football

Mithan Subbiah, personal counsellor, observes that most class toppers are lovers of individual games like chess that do not call for a team.

“They don’t play basketball or football. They are their own competition and often are not able to function as good team members,” she says.

Acceptance factor

Tasneem Nakhoda, counsellor, says, “Many children fear making mistakes. Excelling is a way of gaining acceptance among peers, parents and teachers.”

Explore, don’t mug up

“Applying and exploring information and skills is more important today than rote learning.”

Vinod Singh, head of Trio World Academy.

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Metrolife: Chasing scores comes at a price

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