After prolonged days of anxiety and suspicion, yet another class X and XII CBSE board results were announced yesterday; though not with much pomp or show as in the previous years. I sat with my mother, a teacher by profession, staring quite impatiently at the computer screen. The images of my school days incessantly came to my mind in quick succession-those late night preparations, never ending revision schedules ,the race we had in the examination hall, the fear and anxiety that made the nights sleepless and ultimately, the fun during the ‘merit evening’..The people around looked at us with bulged out eyeballs and said “go learn…it isn’t the time for you to play. You are in class X”. Those were the days when I felt that the class X board exam is the biggest of hurricanes that can happen in one’s life.
Unable to hold the pressure any longer, I asked my mom, “who comes first this year in Xth?” To my disappointment, she said…”well, everybody who wrote the exam is a winner; and apparently there is no loser”. This reminded me about a fancy dress contest we had in the kindergarten class. The judges, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, gave equal marks to all the participants and all of us were given the same red and black ribbon. I understand that the authorities were trying to convey a message that everyone had done a great job. But I worry that a different message was sent, that losing is a hardship nobody should have to face.
Perhaps it is the same trend that even the examination boards are following these days. It is as if the grown-ups believe children are too fragile to handle defeat. Here, everyone plays and everyone wins. This sounds good in theory, but where is the incentive to keep playing? Without a potential winner, any examination loses its excitement. If there is nothing to compete for, the drive to do our best is replaced by ‘what’s the point’ attitude. Competition is symbiotic with motivation. It’s part of human nature to be competitive; after all, survival of the fittest is the basis of evolution. A competitive spirit is the key to our success as adults; why shouldn’t we foster it in children too?
In a country where ‘after school’ is all about competitions and ranks, this is absolutely inevitable. To get an admission or to secure a good job, one needs to face multitude of competitive examinations; wherein there is no process of generalizing or grading, but individual ranking.(check out the cutoff for the DU admissions and you will know how fierce the situation is)
While examinations illustrate the importance of drive and determination, they also teach children how to lose. And with that come the other valuable lessons-about learning from mistakes, searching for ways to improve and finding the will to try again. Yeah, Competition does matters, because to grow up right, we need winners and losers.