Murky Competition

Most of our teachers act like coaches and drill masters

What's Up

SAJJAD BAZAZ

Competition is a buzzword today. Be an unemployed or employed youth, a student or an entrepreneur, a working lady or a house wife, everybody is engaged in competition. In this competitive environment we see lot of people taking unnecessary risks and get themselves woven in a do or die situation. Among the breed, the fiercest competitors are the school going children.
We have a unique modernised education system, which breeds stress and frustration more than infusing physical, mental and spiritual confidence among our toddlers. The drivers of this system are parents whose pressure or what we call expectations and academic performance are the major factors contributing to the high level of stress of our young students. They want their wards to be more or less as plaques through academic and extracurricular achievements, causing huge stress in children. Toddlers as young as 6 years of age are put into a variety of competitions where failure isn’t an option.
Let me have a take on our examination system. It breeds fear among students. We have a teaching community instilling the fear of examination even from primary grades. They have evolved a culture of continuous testing which engulfs the primary school curriculum. The whole chain of private schools operating in our state uses punitive measures to ensure that teachers concentrate on pushing students to improve their scores. Does it induce competitiveness? Of course it does, but at a massive cost of burning out the natural desire to learn in children. Precisely we can say that the present state of affairs in our education sector had made even some of our best teachers act like coaches and drill masters.
Here in our system, the message is clear: “Focus on the examinations.” This attitude has led the children to believe that marks, and marks alone, matter. Even our colleges and universities do not consider it necessary to apply their mind to assess the student’s potential. They go by the student’s marks scored in previous examinations. Parents push children to work for the highest possible aggregate, rather than to pursue individual interest. This kind of pushing destroys the student’s confidence. Our system undermines the student's ability and potential if he/she has not scored well in the examinations.
Let me touch another sensitive issue of school bags. Toting these heavy bags is another form of child labour. One recent study has indicated deviation to the side and/or backwards of children’s spines when carrying heavy school bags. Over time the deviation becomes evident even when the child is not carrying the bag, according to the researchers. The teenage schoolchildren had a higher level of spinal deviation than the pre-teen children, indicating that the deviations are lasting. A child’s spine is still developing during the school years, and the researchers point out that children carry their school bags on a daily basis and often between classes as well, and it is the constant additional pressure to the spine that can cause long-term damage. Precisely, the daily burden in the shape of carrying heavy school bags can lead to lower back pain, poor posture, and spinal deformity in school going children.
Over the years, the demand for children’s education has witnessed tremendous growth. Everybody from the poorest of the poor to the well off acknowledges the value of education in the overall development of children. The importance of learning is to enable the individual to put his potential to optimal use. With rights to education, our student should find himself in a situation with all its windows open to the outside world.
This attitude and mindset has killed the basic concept of education as teaching towards clearing examinations has become the only norm.
So, what is needed to bail out students from the clutches of stress and frustration? I think, we need a change in attitude. We need a change in attitude of parents, teachers and our educationists. This cannot be achieved by the mere imparting of factual information and practical skills. It is the cultivation of the ability to analyse, the desire to question and the courage to challenge convention. Development of a good student to a great extent rests on the schools and the type of education and opportunities given to the students. The parents also should come out of the narrow expectations of making their children an engineer or a doctor but allow them to develop their innate skills. They should cooperate with the schools to implement the reforms initiated for the betterment of the children.
Even as we produce brilliant and intelligent students, they are not an outcome of the current educational system. They are what they are despite the system. The focus of any system, especially at primary education stage, should be to benefit all and not merely some. One more obsession that the current educational system faces is the burden of information in the curriculum. If emphasis is given on understanding and creativity rather than memorizing information, much of the bloat from the curriculum can be simply removed.
The need of the hour is to ponder over these competition-driven education system and suggest a reformation where the focus is on children’s’ potential and not on their grades scored in examinations.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 May 2013 00:00:00 IST




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