Beyond Competition, Towards Excellence

Beyond Competition, Towards Excellence

Let classrooms become places where students are encouraged to excel and not compete with each other

In this era of technology and innovation, everything is changing rapidly. We are witnessing innovation in science, sports, media, literature and many more areas. The ideology of "old is gold" is witnessing a strong and growing opposition. However, one area which is still untouched and uninfluenced by innovation is our education system. Our education system is beset with flaws. The major problem in our education system is how we are taught in our classrooms.

From many years we are witnessing a sense of competition. A student wants to be better than other students; a school wants to be better than other schools, which is good and healthy but only to a certain point. Every school is ridiculously trying to ensure that one of its students get into the top three rankings in the board exams. The schools are only solicitous in making their bright students better than the bright students of other schools. But in these competitive schools, mostly found on the back benches are the dull students, larger in number than the bright ones and the intellectual gap between these two groups of students is immense. In a class where one student easily understands the complex laws of physics, there is another student who cannot even spell "physics"! Yes both, both these students were taught in the same school, in the same class, since there were 4 or 5 still the gap between their knowledge is very wide. But why is that? How is this even possible? This is the negative impact of too much of competition. The teachers of almost all schools focus on the bright students.

The level of contribution of teachers towards the class is based on the aptitude of the bright students. It is not that the teachers completely ignore the dull students of their class but the amount of attention, hard work, encouragement and dedication they give towards them is surely not enough.

I’ve compared this flaw of our education system with a flaw in our economy. In our economy the rich get richer and the poor poorer, similarly in our classrooms the bright get brighter and the dull duller. In some developed and educated areas of our society, the people slowly started paying attention towards the overall pass percentage of students of different schools in the board exams. They started judging schools on the basis of it. It finally felt like the gap between the dull and the bright students will decrease. But again our schools found a devious short cut to this problem. They started detaining or expelling the dull students. The idea was simple: set a tough question paper and the dull ones will fail. Hence you will have a batch of good and refined students ready to excel in the board exams. What a shame! It’s like eliminating the poor instead of eliminating poverty! 

I am not saying that the incapable students should be promoted to the next class. But the teachers must make the incapable students capable, starting from the grassroots level. This shortcut method will be harmful for our society. Special focus should be put on the so called dull students. The wide gap between the dull and the bright students must be decreased. Failing students is not the solution, helping the students to fight their failure is. Because a failure of a student is a failure of a teacher! As Franklin Roosvelt rightly said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is  whether we provide enough for those who have too little". 

Yes doing this is not easy and very time consuming for the teachers but it is the right thing to do. It is what they are paid for eventually. This problem is not only in few schools but in every school and also in the mindset of our society. Schools are desperately competing with each other and every child is worried whether his friend will get more marks than him. Every parent wants his/ her child to be better than the children of his / her neighbour or colleague.

We have to act now to reform our education system. Why is it that we wait for the west to implement new ideas and then follow them? Why do we lack the courage to innovate? It is time we turn our classrooms into creative spaces where students can perform better. It is time we start educating students for excellence rather than training them for success.