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05 July 2012, 11:07 AM IST
Several states in the country, such as Delhi, Haryana and Odisha have ordered schools to extend their summer break because the nation is experiencing a heat wave. This, coupled with acute power and water crisis, exacerbates the situation even more, which seems to justify the state governments’ decision. While the decision may get the nod of approval from the hoi-polloi or those who are so utterly used to the soft lifestyle that they assume all others belong in that category too, I completely disagree with this move.
When there is heat, shut schools or extend or bring forward vacations. Ditto when it’s cold. Ministry of HRD says kids are too stressed, so let there be no exams till class 8. Students of class 10 need not be forced to take the board exam and have the option of not appearing for what was an accepted part of school curriculum for ages. And now, someone is even mooting the idea that we should do away with exams for class 12 too. The same ministry has also been trying hard to dilute the entrance exams to the venerated IITs.
What are we trying to turn our kids/students into? Sissies? Do students in the very cold regions of the world or those that are hotter than Delhi not go to school? Are these the kids who will grow up to face the big, bad, highly-competitive world? As I said, I completely disagree with this unnecessary mollycoddling of kids in their growing up phase.
There already are murmurs from teachers all around that doing away with the exams till class 8 is already impacting the students once they reach class 9. Their ability to write and comprehend situations is almost missing. Class 8 may seem too junior, but that is completely incorrect. Each and every class/year is important in the child’s growth. Some of the basics and foundation of grammar, mathematics and other science subjects are laid during these classes. If that itself is now weakened, how is the child expected to face the tougher tests ahead. What if the child has done virtually nothing past three years but he has been promoted up to class 9?
If the child is not even capable of handling the curriculum of class 6, for there never was any pressure on him to perform, how will he suddenly get back to the grind he is completely unused to? A couple of teachers I spoke to said students, in the absence of any pressure, take academics very lightly. No wonder psychologists have reported an increase in the number of students in class 9, gripped with exam fever. Why on earth are we hell bent upon implementing something that has not been thought through? I admit, the current system is not the best, but it is certainly ensured we don’t have a generation of duds.
As I have often argued in the past, one of the strengths of our education system has been the very strong foundation that the system inculcates. Whether right or wrong, the fact is those who have had their baptism by fire can take on the pressures of higher education far better. It is not for nothing that Indian students who get admissions into top colleges and universities overseas do so well.
As I argued in the post on diluting IIT Exams (Don’t dilute the IIT entrance exam, please), we shouldn’t try and fix what aint broken. If it is to be fixed, it must be a demonstrable improvement over what is in current use. Else it is a waste. The current trend that if there is anything tough, dilute it, is fraught with danger. Great minds are those that have been trained to be challenged. It is for that reason that most of growing up games and toys are puzzles and challenges that force the mind to be active. If we give up that approach and tell a child, it is ok to be ‘stress-free’ during the formative years, so take it easy, enjoy, it may appeal only to those who do not have the interest of our future generations at heart. For, in reality, we will be turning them into non-performing duds who cannot face the world.