Its that time of the year again. Board exam time when lakhs and lakhs of students across the country sweat it out to get good marks. This year one of my first cousins is giving her 12th CBSE boars exams and everyone at home is behaving as if swathi (my cousin) is going to the war front to fight militants and not to write an exam. Suddenly the house is abuzz with calls from “close” relatives like my grandmother’s sisters husbands brothers son’s wife calling up swathi and giving her valuable advice like “get 8 hours of sleep and eat food on time. When my brother’s wife’s neighbours son was giving his board exam he slept only for 7 hours and 26 minutes and ended up getting only 92%. Disgrace to the entire family he was. Don’t make the same mistake”.
So when I called up swathi day before yesterday to wish her she was at her wits end and said “please shruthi. I have had people calling me up from the morning wishing me and giving me all kind of weird advice. I am really really tensed. I will talk later. bye”. It was then that I realized that we give entirely too much of importance to these silly board exams. I mean seriously. NOW, 5 years after I have given my boards (man!! Am I old or what??) I realize that its not such a big deal. I have seen people do miserably in their boards and still come up very well in life and I have also seen people who excel in their boards but today are doing what everyone else is doing.
Anyway coming back to the point yesterday an hour before the board exams began I was watching some news channel where the following conversation made me sick early in the morning.
Person 1 in the news studio : moving on to the next big news item today. Today the CBSE 10 and 12th std exams begin and the air is pregnant with tension with more than 4 lakh (he stresses on 4 lakh and pauses for effect) students all over the country taking up these exams which decide their future. Lets ask our correspondent malvika who is present outside the ABC public school noida about what the situation is like right now. Yes malvika. So how is the atmosphere right now? What is the mind set of the students?
Malvika : (striving for an intelligent expression and nodding her head periodically and then suddenly she starts speaking at the rate of 75 words per minute). Yes ravi. As you can see I am standing outside ABC noida. With just an hour to go students as well as parents have started streaming into the school and the atmosphere is thick (stress+pause) with apprehension and tension. Also topmost on every student and parents mind is the fact that CBSE has changed the pattern of its exam papers and introduced different kind of questions which test the students abilities. We have with us the principal of ABC with us. Lets ask her what she thinks about CBSE’s decision and how it will affect the students?
Thank you for joining us ma’am. So what do u think about CBSE’s decision of introducing very short answer type questions and how will it affect the students
Mrs Principal: (obviously this is her first time on TV. She is immaculately dressed and speaks like a true principal at the rate of 4 words per minute). Personally I think CBSE’s decision should not affect the students at all. Because if a student is well prepared and is fundamentally sound he/she should be able to tackle any kind of questions. And yes it is a good decision of CBSE’s part to introduce this concept for it will test the true understanding a student has of fundamental concepts
Malvika: So ma’am what steps have u taken to ensure the success of the students in your school
Mrs Principal: well we have conducted 17 pre pre board exams, 18 pre board exams, daily mock tests and assignments which will help the students be prepared for the real thing. We have also made sure that we don’t put much pressure on the students (I cant help but smirk at this)
Malvika: what steps do u think students preparing for the board exams should take to come out with flying colors?
Mrs Principal: Oh!! A student should get a minimum of eight hours of sleep, eat food regularly. Eat many small meals and not few large meals which would make him/her sleepy. His/ her mind must be “completely relaxed” and stress free for the D day because in the end it is not only intelligence which will help you but also a cool and composed mind.
At this point I am not able to take it any longer. Completely relaxed??? With each and every news channel offering their smart ass comments and giving advice which no one asked for and splashing the board exams across the media like this, how can any student or parent for that matter be relaxed? With such immense pressure to perform any child would break. It is no wonder that the number of children committing suicide because of failure to perform in the exam has gone up so drastically. I cannot even begin to imagine the kind of pressure a 14 year old must have undergone if it actually drove him to take his own life. And the case of kids committing suicide will be made into a big issue by the same news channels
The first people who should be blamed are these news channels. I am not joking when I say that ravi and malvika continued this board exam nonsense for half an hour in the morning for the breakfast news. When these news channels have no idea what to talk about they just pick up random, inconsequential things and talk about them as if they are the most crucial and vital topics. (the next news item in breakfast news was this “after the break lets look at a village in bihar where a little girl was married to a dog (stress+pause) to ward off evil spirits”). Any parent would have got a nervous breakdown if they had watched the way ravi and malvika spoke about the board exams thinking “Oh my god. My son wrote only 4 pre pre boards and only 5 pre boards. If only I had put him in a better school…”
Secondly parents must also try to understand and accept their children and their shortcomings. (I really hope Taare Zameen Par goes a long way in helping parents realize this). We cant all have prodigies as children. Give your child the freedom to be what he or she wants to be. Don’t pressurize or terrorize or your children.
And finally stop calling up kids, giving their board exams and boring them with your advice. I am sure you have great intentions in mind but trust me the advice which you are giving would have already been given by 7 other people in 8 different ways (unless of course your advice is “get drunk before your exam and go to the exam with a bad hangover” or something!! :P). So just call, wish him/ her luck and keep the phone down and you will earn a child’s good will!! ;)
This is just a random rant which I penned down after I saw what my cousin was going through. I sure hope she does well but even if she doesn’t it doesn’t matter because after all they are just board exams and not the kargil war!! :)