Winning and losing are two sides of the same coin. Of course, everyone wants their coin to fall on the winning side always; but there are going to be numerous times that doesn’t happen. That’s life! What is important though is not the winning or the losing, but how we deal with it. We can get dejected and go into a shell thinking we’re no good that we lost, or we can realize that failure is the greatest teacher and it can teach you far more than success ever can.
What then do we, as a society, do to our children when they don’t perform well, or even fail in exams? The bitter truth is that we, as a society, castigate them and make them feel even worse. By setting up the board exam as the be-all end-all of their young lives, society has only set most of them up for failure, who don’t excel in such high-pressure situations. Our children weren’t meant to be cooked in academic pressure cookers, so let’s start by celebrating what they’re good at!
And the way our education systems have been set up, tests are nothing more than a measure of a child’s ability to memorize and regurgitate. So if Rohan gets 90, and Sahil 75, it tells you that Rohan was able to memorize and regurgitate better than Sahil.
Is memory retention and regurgitation a skill that a 21st century student will require? We already have Google on our fingertips, and with that access to infinite amounts of information. By the time today’s kids grow up, they will be auto prompted through AI and other technologies, with the information they will require to complete their next task. And yet as a society we label students and determine their “intelligence” by their score on a memory retention test!
Each child is unique, and has an inherent potential. For some that might be acing a memory retention test, but for most others, it is something else. Why then are we, in 2019, still trying to cookie-cut children, into moulds of our pre-conceived notions of what makes the “Good Indian child”? The top 10 most in demand jobs of 2010 did not exist in 2004! We are preparing today’s students for jobs that don’t even exist yet, they will be solving problems we don’t even know are problems yet, by using technologies that haven’t even been invented yet! The uncertainty is fascinating.
It is critical that we help build and encourage children to have a Plan B. Just because they didn’t get the marks to get into the top colleges doesn’t, by any means, mean they’re doomed. Most of the biggest successes in life today, have encountered failure at every step in their struggle. The key is grit, persistence and perseverance.
The problem though isn’t the children; it’s the parents and all the nosy uncle – aunties who love showering unsolicited advice, painting a grim picture of the child’s future. First and foremost, get rid of all the negativity, and focus instead on what the child is good at, and has an aptitude for. Seek career counselling from a professional, and stay miles away from the advice of the neighborhood aunt or gimmicky bio metric tests that claim to foretell your child’s aptitude.
The average undergrad in the U.S. changes their major at least once during their 4-year course, many change it 2 to 3 times. Stop fretting if your child is confused about what they want to do. At 18, did you know what you wanted to do? And how many times has that changed till now? It’s absolutely normal for children to be figuring out their paths, or be confused about what they want to do, or become. Try becoming your child’s friend first, rather than their instructor. Does communication only revolve around you giving them instructions anymore? Why then, do you expect them to come and share what they truly feel, with you?
Children are raw uncut diamonds. They need good jewelers to allow them to shine at their brightest. It is the adults, and society that needs the teaching, not the children. The sufferer may end up being the child, but the failure is that of the adults around him!
Author – Mr. Raghav Podar