By Rachna Pant, Apr 25, 2022 14:00
We need to change the nomenclature, the word or phrase Boards, as it triggers an involuntary reaction of fear and anxiety. A fresh lens is required to revisit the concept. The new education policy has done volumes in this direction but the fear factor will take a while to go.
Some amount of stress is essential to enhance performance as per all studies undertaken. But who is there to calibrate it? Will the stress impact each child differently? Do we need one ruler to measure all or vary it as a strategy? Alternately we could change the entire dynamics by making it not a make or break situation.
We could defuse the tension by providing alternate means of measuring success, like entry-level exams. Also an effort in not making it sound like the mother of all exams is important. This will take time, it’s like the colonial mindset and will take a while to peter off. A constant drill and shift in focus in the long-term should be the future approach. With the immediate focus in mind, we need to take some remedial measures. The authorities have tried to do their bit by rationalising 30% of the syllabus. The response is definitely of relief. But the question is whether this is the solution. It definitely is not.
We are up against a mental construct which needs a gradual deconstruct and melt down. From the paper setters’ perspective, we need to scale down as per the requirement. In our mind’s eye, we need to picture with clarity the topics that couldn’t have worked well online. The tactical shift should focus on testing these items or topics which could have been meted out justice in an online mode.
The students are bereft of any real-time writing practice. Expecting them to pen long narratives or very content heavy stuff might be counter-productive. In fact, testing should have a balance of writing ability tempered with analytical ability. Allow them to think but too much writing may add to the stress.
The need of the hour is to scale down the tension while they are sitting for the exam. Giving them adequate reading time is a step in the right direction. Conjoining it with judiciously measured and selected test items with a balanced sprinkle of all levels will help ease tension. This is to be done while the final run-up to the exams begin.
Prior to the actual exam, unnecessary gradual prep up and building up to it is necessary. We need to diffuse the tension in the air by adequate access to real-time learning, teachers, writing practice and a compassionate parent and supportive teaching fraternity. Build a narrative around this exam not being the ’be all and end all’ of all tests of merit.
Let the child know that these are the various stages of development and blocks to step on and not rest on. Talk of life beyond, and not ending with it. Make it an experience to grapple with and not be in mortal fear of.
As a clincher I would only say that we are the screenplay writers for the picture called exams. Let’s not make it a cliffhanger, rather a thought provoking meaningful activity for their future.
Rachna Pant is the Director, Ramjas International School, RK Puram. Views expressed are personal.