The indelible mark of marks

Watch the video before reading further. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The video features a clearance sale a week before exams, where students are selling their hobby artifacts for free because their parents feel that scoring marks is more important than pursuing their hobbies.

Kind of a more permanent version of ‘no TV and no cable connection in March and April’ during my school days.

I watched this video a couple of weeks ago. I was greatly moved by the concept and the execution. The futility of reducing an individual’s ability to a single score is something that bothers me deeply. Kudos to the branding team of Cadbury Bournvita! I’m sure this video tugged at the heartstrings of a whole bunch of Indian parents, teachers, teenagers and also the general public. I was one of them.

Evaluation Exam Passed List (Image credits: HarinathR/Creative Commons)

On further reflection however, I turned a tiny bit sceptical. Once the emotional knee jerk reaction abates, what then? Will parents of teenagers suddenly stop caring about marks? Will there be countless instances of ‘jaa beta jaa, jee le apni zindagi’ in our overly peer-pressured households? Will the 10th grade and 12th grade board exams suddenly matter less? No, No and No.

The truth of the matter is that competition is an integral part of our students’ reality. Exams are a tangible effect of that competition. Unless our entire education system goes through a Herculean overhaul, exams aren’t vanishing into thin air any time soon. From Spelling bees to IIT-JEEs, from Olympiads to PISA, exams are here to stay.

Our children are invariably going to encounter exams in every step of their life where their performance decides further course of action. The crux then is to accept this fact and change our approach in engaging with this ubiquitous reality.

I propose a three-pronged approach with which parents can battle this beast.

  • First – please do not reduce your child’s value to a single dimension of exam marks – no matter how important you think it is
  • Second – develop a healthy relation with exams and approach the art of writing exams as one of many necessary skills that can be learned and honed
  • Third – children (any individual for that matter) are a beautiful combination of a diverse set of intelligences and abilities – appreciate who they are, encourage them to learn new things and challenge them to be the best versions of themselves at all stages of their growth

As to my advice to students, stay calm, prepare well, bring your best to the exam hall and chill. It is not the end of the world, enjoy the process. 🙂



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Dr. Soumya Sreehari

Co-Founder and Specialist at NumberNagar®
Dr. Soumya is an Educator and Researcher with a passion for reading, writing and teaching. She holds a PhD in Chemistry (Michigan Technological University, Houghton, USA). Her experience as a student and a teacher in two countries led her to pursue a career in Education. Her core work at NumberNagar® involves quality delivery of product and services at every stage of the customer life cycle. She leads the team that makes this happen. Previously she has taught Chemistry to first year undergraduate students at Michigan Technological University. She is a voracious reader and challenges herself to read 50 books every year.

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