Take Two

Grade F for This Bad Idea

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And an argument against CBSE’s dim-witted plan to evaluate the emotions and attitudes of schoolchildren

If the school is a factory, and students are its products, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is now trying to perfect its mould. The final products, as it sees them, should be exact replicas of each other, devoid of the ‘flaws’ inherent in individual personalities. Since the new buzz word in education circles is ‘holistic’ development of the child, the CBSE has trained its inner eye towards what obviously seems to be an area of darkness where it is concerned. Students of classes IX and X, it has decided, will be graded on their ‘thinking skills, social and emotional skills and attitudes and values’. Why, after all, leave it to life to test them on their ‘life skills’?

Our educationists sitting at the head office of the CBSE don’t seem to be able to fathom that this little experiment of theirs could have drastic consequences. Let me give my own example to illustrate. I was no idiot when it came to getting good grades in academics. But I’ve remained an idiot in life. I was a deeply-introverted person at school, and have remained more or less so even now. I don’t have the natural vivacity that allows strangers to warm up to me immediately. I find myself going blank during those moments when small talk, or a little bit of humour, can fill up uncomfortable, awkward  silences.

Sometimes, this ‘attitude’ of mine can even be perceived to be hostility. Where I went to school, there were some 50-60 students crammed into a single classroom, and teachers had their hands full controlling this unruly lot, and certainly no inclination to figure each one of us out. I’m such a closed book, even the people close to me have a problem figuring me out sometimes. If I were to be graded on my ‘inter-personal skills’, I wouldn’t have had great expectations.

On the other hand, I know of schoolmates who were very sure of themselves. So sure that they had no problems questioning the attitude of our teachers, questioning the school itself, of having the perfectly honest retort we could only admire them for. Of course, where the school was concerned, they were the black sheep. No chances there of getting some extra marks for independent thought. This was bad attitude all the way.

Life is not an open text book, and we can never fully learn the ways of coping with what’s thrown at us. And while doing so, we will never manage to please everyone. But allowing someone to sit in judgment over such a subjective thing can never be good. I know one good thing about the time I was in school. If I were officially graded on my personality traits, I may have grown up considering myself a failure. Others may just have crumbled.