“Intelligence is not measured by the ability to score high marks in studies, but to score high marks in life.” ~ Bryan
Final exams in school are done, we are on a short break before children begin the next academic year and I have to brace myself for the soon to be declared results. Now here’s an honest confession – one area of parenting that I have difficulty accepting myself with is that of my children’s academic performance.
A mom’s challenge
As a struggling single mother, I have asked myself hopelessly –
Am I a successful mom only if my kids shine academically?
Are my expectations of their academic excellence valid just cos I was a good student?
Am I a failure if they refuse my help in studies even though I can add value?
Is being self-driven innate or can be instilled?
Do all children have to be academically inclined?
I think to myself – it is painful to see them under perform when you know they have better potential to unleash. How can I inspire?
Every year we read stories on student suicides, of not been able to live up to their own expectations and that of their elders. Of breaking down and giving up. Often children are put on a guilt trip to do well for parents so they can proudly announce to the society. Are we conditioning them to study for us? They are not our trophies to be displayed for our pride, are they? Shouldn’t it be more about them taking an onus for their life?
I am not in favour of putting undue pressure of marks, as a child I know how burdened it felt to study that way. Yes, I do wish to see them do their best in academics. But I want them do it for themselves and not just for me. To emphasise that they bear the consequences of their efforts.
On a different level, I know they went through a lot of pain seeing their parents divorce. It may have affected their confidence and performance. The fact that they have faced it all with maturity and unflinching love in their hearts is in itself a huge achievement. To see them deal with everything consequential only fills me with great pride. Their good or bad marks can never alter my unconditional love for them.
Questioning our academic system
Top ranking students get most attention in school and praise in society. Marks are used to judge the capability of a student. It creates some sort of divide amongst the students unfortunately. Not all children are academically brilliant and may have other talents in extra-curricular activities.
I am glad that both my children have excelled in district level sports championships, been a part of their school teams and also won laurels in dance and singing competitions. But that does not bear much significance at the end of the day when only marks are given value in our education system. Why do their non-academic talents seem trivial if children do not score good marks?
“Success in life does not necessarily originate with academic success.” -Robert Sternberg
We do realise that marks are not necessarily the only measure of their intelligence. Academic success does not equate to a child’s success in life. That her being a topper does not essentially guarantee a fulfilling career. Or a happy life ahead. Our obsession with marks is to be condemned. Even worse, our tendency to compare them with other kids.
Focusing on life skills
My older kid has scored far better in the last two academic years than she had earlier. I believe the key is to inspire them to be self-motivated and self-disciplined. To recognise their strengths and figure ways to hone them. Inculcating the habit of delayed gratification and learn time management. Building confidence needs to be emphasised over accumulating marks by rote learning.
“Preserving their self-esteem is far more important than preserving their mark-sheets!”
The true winner
As adults, we realise that what helps us sustain in life is how we apply our education. Failure is not poor marks but the inability to learn from our mistakes and move forward. True success is to know your purpose and live a life in tune with it. Nothing is as fulfilling than to find your passion and make a living out of it. At the end of the day, it is to remember that being a good human being far surpasses all material possessions and professional success one garners.
If my children grow up to be compassionate adults, respectful, peaceful at heart, leading a healthy fulfilling life, I would have succeeded as a mom.
Sharing a couple of impressive ads I saw lately for us parents to ponder on: