Marks That Wouldn’t Make Your Life Not Worth Ending It For

It is the darkest fears that shape our personality and parents, teachers, as well as examination boards, need to wake up to the reality that marks are overrated to a dangerous extent in the way we make a song and dance of them

The recently announced results of the CBSE have witnessed a wave of hysteria of a perturbing kind on social media. With parents taking to the popular platforms to proudly proclaim to the world the supposed sterling achievement of their progeny. Several timelines, profiles and public groups on social media were inundated with pictures of these adolescents and their mark sheets too in most cases. For no longer is the declaration of a mark sheet of students an event to be strictly sacrosanct between the student/ their parents and the teacher(s) handing out the result to them. Today, egos are stroked through the declaration of inflated ideas of self-perception adults have of themselves that they vicariously find voices for via their children and their marks that are nothing more than a jumble of integers on the number line, in the truest sense, if indeed acknowledged in that honest willingness.

The thin line separating reality as it manifests in the world and one’s twisted ideas about it owing to the self-image people in general and parents in a particular dream up about themselves is thinning by the day, leaving parents bewildered and, in extreme cases, psychotic in the scariest of ways. In the most heart-wrenching story that has unfolded over the past couple of days in line with this horrid development is the one in which a Class X student took her own life in the lockdown that followed the ongoing pandemic, owing to her inability to attend an online class as she did not have a computer/laptop or a smartphone in her possession. In yet another incident, a Class X student took the drastic step as his scores were not up to the grade. In a third instance, two students of Classes X and XII each, have hung themselves from ceiling fans at their respective homes due to untold of reasons. No suicide note has been found either so that some clarity could at least be sought on the issue.

As if getting to see all of this flashed in the news all over was not enough, a child of class seven, yes you have read that right, class seven indeed, has committed suicide a couple of weeks ago because he could apparently, not take the flying rage of his parents any longer. What have we come to as a generation is the immediate and urgent question we adults need to put to ourselves. The tangible and the quantitative have become so indispensable for us that we have deliriously chosen to drown our better sense into the high tides of misplaced ambition and skyrocketing ambitions. Throwing care to the winds in the process about how our children shall perceive this inane lust we carry in our beings for a little more, for the conquer of all we possibly can. Whether or not it plays a role in the betterment of us as people in the long run and the short run as well.

The worst form of megalomania in parents, as has been mentioned in the initial paragraph, the dark desire to have these intoxicating ideas fulfilled vicariously through their children is what is today playing out in the ugliest of forms. Student suicides. Learning is supposed to bring joy, arouse curiosity and most importantly, be the bridge between competencies that children are born with and the path that their efforts and love towards their studies carve out for them. Yes, children the good as well the not so good in their formative adolescent years but that is a part of learning in the larger scheme of things as well as the flowering of personalities of children from the tiny bud of possibility that they are born with and the full bloom they reach to in the process of their studies. These are school children with an entire life and career before them. All of these children have been residing with their parents when they took the decision to leave everything behind and jump into a darkness they know nothing about. All because their parents truly did not care for them enough by training them since an early age that it is not marks that shape an individual but the richness of his or her experience in the world. The richness that comes with interactions with nature, with people, with the pain that comes from falling and the smiles that come by rising again, dusting off the dirt and looking forward to living another day filled with hope and opportunities galore. That it also is a kind of experience to have failed in something and then putting one’s being into being successful again. To go back to the drawing board and analyzing one’s plan of action one more time. To grow and to smile through the tears of bitterness that life at times has to offer. To know that it is the storms that make trees take deeper roots in preparation for a fiercer tempest in future. That life is about spreading wings wide and flying and not staying confined to one’s own well in the name of safety and fear of being bruised. That requires a dimension of intelligence different from what parents are so much used to aim for, to blossom. Emotional intelligence as well as spiritual intelligence needs to be nurtured carefully in a growing child, especially when the child is about to set foot into teenage and adolescence, for what is ingrained in those formative periods of life, stays on for a lifetime.

These are questions parents have to ask themselves, fair and square, instead of either cocooning children by ensconcing them in their parent love or, going to the other extreme and subjecting their soft psyche to the paranoia of a kind they have no idea about how to deal with. For parents will not be around children forever. What are we as parents and responsible adults and citizens of our nation gifting the nation with? Are they going to be headstrong individuals or will they crack at the mere sight of a rain cloud and a hailstorm over the horizon? It is the darkest fears that shape our personality and parents, teachers, as well as examination boards, need to wake up to the reality that marks are overrated to a dangerous extent in the way we make a song and dance of them. The 99% or 100% in English is not going to see a child through a serious nervous breakdown owing to a broken relationship ten years from now. It is his or her strength of character and undying will power that is going to take the individual across the high seas of turbulence. May we be blessed with the cognitive as well as emotional intelligence to understand this fact sooner than can be. There are students who have scored average marks in their boards and have gone ahead to be one of the most successful coders and entrepreneurs the world has ever seen. The founder of Facebook — called Facemash in the beginning — Mark Zuckerberg is one such example. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is another example of the same genius that stands out. Steve Jobs’ idiosyncratic genius is a story every child of today knows to memory. Yet, we forget them when struck by the horror of having to live with an average mark sheet of our own children. With the ongoing global scenario socially as well as economically, the dream of a self-sufficient India, or ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ actually stands upon the pedestal of individual brilliance in strategic breakthroughs in thinking and the spirit of entrepreneurship. That for certain does not come with marks for more marks means walking on the beaten path. Rote learning the pre-determined answers and being hard wired to the outcomes to the last digit.

Being a thought leader and a businessman, on the other hand, means that the individual has the knack to see that which is not yet born from the dark womb of possibility yet. To navigate grounds that have not been tilled yet. To sow seeds of hope and light upon the soil that at times might even be looked down to be barren, when the proverbial astrological stars are not on the ascent. This needs the spirit of a very sterling kind. A passion of a very thirsty kind. Unwilling to allow setbacks to become their defining moments. Such children shall go on to lead corporations and lives in the most stellar and satisfactory manner not just for themselves but for numerous others as well. For it is a strong shoulder that they shall offer to their subordinates, younger siblings and friends, to perch upon and have a shared vision of the bright future all of us wish to walk towards in all earnest.

Joyshree Munshi

By Joyshree Munshi

Doctoral research fellow in the areas of social psychology and organisational behaviour, currently pursuing her PhD in behavioural science

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