Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Exams?

July 14, 2017

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid- Albert Einstein

Tia sings like a dream. Right from a very young age, she showed strong affinity towards music and rhythm. Her parents Anuj and Rashmi enrolled her in the best classical singing academy in their city. They wanted her to pursue her passion. Until she entered the sixth grade. After that everything changed. Grades, exams and academics took precedence over her talent.

Haven’t we all heard this story before? Some of us have even experienced it first-hand. A talent that a child is born with, is brought to an end long before it is nurtured. As a generation of modern parents, we are more aware. We make an effort to understand our children better and nurture their talents. In spite of it all, if the end goal is to appear for an exam where the child is expected to score at skills that are not her strength then it defeats the whole purpose of the special upbringing.

In fact, this is worse than raising the child without any special attention to her passion and intellect. Are tests that judge the ability of a child only in academics qualified to define ‘Success’? Is it time we do away with standardised tests and introduce an assessment that evaluates children fairly?
examsA 2015 study conducted by the Council of Great City Schools reported that an American student takes approximately 112 tests/ exams between Pre-K and grade 12.The report says that these exams typically evaluate children based on their skills in math and reading often turn out to be redundant and does not work in everyone’s

favour. Even in India, exams and assessments get enough and more attention that their due. Exams that are built on the premise of providing equal standards of education to all, cease to be effective enough in the long run. The metric of judging students with different levels of cognitive abilities through the same exam has proven to be more harmful.

Students are under immense pressure to excel due to high expectations from society. Lack of confidence, low self-esteem and unpreparedness to face life are some of traits that children exhibit due to built-up anxiety of exams. Parents and teachers unconsciously create an unhealthy atmosphere of competition between students by making unwarranted comparisons. This often leads to a sense of coldness among students as opposed to the bonhomie a classroom should have. Instead of making friends for life, many children live with bitter memories of cut-throat rivalry experienced during their schooldays. The basic tenets of getting education along with values of inclusivity and impartiality are shackled.

Exams and tests need to be treated as just that- without any special attention or ado about them. As parents and caregivers our primary aim should be preparing them to face life’s hurdles, not excelling in exams. Identifying your child’s talent, finding right opportunities in the realm of their interests and standing by their decisions is what we as parents must do.

As a society, we need to be more mindful of our definition of success. Children imbibe what they see and hear. The false perception of achievement that adults harbour unintentionally creates a lasting impression on young minds. The whole purpose of education and schooling is to ready them for the long haul.

exams are overExams that focus on subjects such as creativity, logical thinking, team building, leadership ability and social skills can be more useful to determine each child’s aptitude. It is time we welcome innovative ways of assessment with open arms and do away with rigid, stressful ways of validating a child’s skills. A better and happier tomorrow for our children can start with understanding their capabilities and evaluating them rightly.

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