In search of the elusive A+, are our students forgetting something important?
Our family dinner in the evenings is an elaborate affair with all of us recounting our notable moments of the day. During the course of one such recount, my brother spoke about his volunteering event at his school (which will remain unnamed for this article).
His school, a popular one, had recently introduced a computerized system to evaluate admission application forms to manage the influx of hundreds and thousands of forms they received during the annual admissions rush after the SEE exams. But, as the computer would only accept forms that were filled exactly to instructions, the school employed volunteers from the senior batches to help go over the forms before the computer scanned it.
My brother vented about how SEE-passed students, almost all of them in the upper percentile rank (after all, it’s a reputed school), simply failed to comply with the instructions given in the admission forms.
“The instructions are just there, in bold, for everyone to follow. Can’t they even read?” asks my incredulous brother.
The problem, I think, lies not in a SEE-passed student’s literary capability but more in the school system that produced that child. And I don’t think I would be labeled presumptuous if I assumed that the reader knows there is something seriously wrong with our education system. And among the many problems, as highlighted by my brother’s experience, is a severe lack of basic life skills.
Why do we even call it a school when it lacks such basic things as personal growth training, to the point we have parents complaining that their children, even in higher studies, are not mature enough? Managing motivations, keeping and achieving aspirations are something mentioned in only self-help videos, not in your child’s class where the only aspiration is A+ and weeding out radical thoughts.
Financial management training, another important life skill, just a fancy word of saying money management skills is noticeably lacking in schools as well. What we have is Ram and Shyam buying 50 watermelons for X and Y in the mathematics book, which has no connection at all with the real world.
Communication is such a vital part of our lives, we can’t even think of life without it. However, the school your child studies in doesn’t provide such trainings. What do you think your child will do when situations arise in which they have to communicate with the larger public? You know them, you understand them, but the random person on the street doesn’t and if your child doesn’t fit the bill, they will be left behind. The classroom is a closeted nest and your child is unready as can be to face the real world.
Another overlooked but important training is emotional intelligence training. We’ve heard enough horror stories in the news about children committing suicide in the name of love, examination marks, and countless other mundane excuses. If they had been trained to process their emotions in a cool, self-contained manner, would such tragedies occur?
And, finally, I can’t stress this enough but where is healthy living training? If only your child was truly aware of what goes on in their junk foods, would they have cravings for it as they do now? Do they have the necessary physical, mental and spiritual capacity to make healthy choices in their lives?
I know, there’s not so much that can be taught within the walls of a school. And yes, I am aware that because of this limitation, these things I’ve listed are more in the domain of parents’ responsibilities. But, get this, when I graduated, I had a rude awakening about how little I needed to know the periodic table of elements, and how much I need to know about taxes. All of the prerequisites my college was asking for were things I learned in high school, yet no one asked if I knew how to understand and manage my emotions without my parents around to support me.
If it hasn’t hit home yet, life skills beyond the textbooks are important. We should not ignore them. But we have been doing so until now and it needs to be stopped.
The author is pursuing MA in English Literature from Pokhara University