Beyond the tyranny of exams: The Tribune India | Rare Techy


Avijit Pathak


Should we allow ourselves to be disturbed by the tyranny of exams, the never-ending standardized tests, the trappings of coaching centers and a lifestyle full of chronic stress and anxiety as our children grow up? Or should we normalize it with some sort of instrumental logic that because of this pressure they learn the spirit of hard work and adapt themselves to a highly competitive world?

Those of us who think differently must pledge to start a new movement to protect education and give our children a new world view.

I am raising these questions because it is time to face a series of exams and entrance exams – board exams, JEE, NEET and the newly introduced CUET. A highly discerning society would measure their worth and appreciate the success stories of the toppers and condemn and blame those who cannot withstand the pressure of this rat race. It is also a time when anxious parents spend sleepless nights; And coaching centers or ed tech companies will capitalize on this anxiety by selling packaged success manuals of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology to increase their profits.

Is that what education is all about? The final judgment of youth? Often, the ‘system’ lets us down; We begin to accept that there is no alternative; Whether our children are inclined towards theoretical physics or creative arts, they should be narrowed down to some form of investment (‘good’ parents, it is believed, spend heavily on sending their children to branded schools and coaching centres. ), and should be able to provide them with a decent income, a good ranking in JEE or NEET and eventually a lucrative job in the techno-corporate world. Constantly reminded. So does being educated mean seeing everything – including human relations, through the calculating logic of profits and losses -; And living with terrible performance anxiety?

Yet, despite this organized and systematic attack on education, some of us must raise our voices, try to create awareness, and have the courage to say that meaningful and liberating education is not just about exams and standardized tests; Nor is it about strategy to win the race. Instead, it’s about wonder and creativity; It is a reflective inquiry; It is an endless effort to make sense of the physical, biological, cultural and psychological/spiritual world; It is about developing a humane and critical awareness that enables learners to use the skills they acquire to build the foundations of an egalitarian and compassionate society. The goal of getting an education is not to become a narcissistic warrior; Instead, education should educate us, instill an ethic of care and love, and inspire us to resist war, militarism, technological violence, ecosystem destruction, and the horrors of a surveillance society.

Great teachers like Rabindranath Tagore, Jiddu Krishnamurthy and Paulo Freire could never have imagined the kind of decline in education we see these days. Poets like Pablo Neruda and Amrita Pritam, scientists like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, historians like Bipan Chandra and Irfan Habib did not want to reduce their passionate work to what could be considered the MCQ pattern of exam riddles. Rather than being intellectually, morally, and politically challenged, our children are not born solely to break through a series of tests that exist only to filter or eliminate people through absurd metrics.

Every child carries a talent with her and her uniqueness cannot be measured by JEE or NEET ranking. A society that tries to standardize aspirations and tastes fails to take advantage of these possibilities. Indeed, the tyranny of standardized tests and exams kills human potential. After all such exams and tests, while the success stories of the toppers are sold and publicized, most of our youth – anonymous and scarred – are forced to live with the stigma of failure and a sense of meaninglessness.

It is easy to ignore this real problem. Instead, it is easier to invite motivational speakers and inspire these youngsters as they enter the battlefield as ‘trial warriors’. Or, it is even easier for Prime Minister Modi to behave like a mentor and advise anxious students to view exam time as a ‘festival’ session. It is very difficult to accept that the prevailing system of education is nothing but a form of violence. It makes products, not sentient beings; It promotes selfishness and competitiveness, not the euphoria of sharing and solidarity; It may produce soulless experts, but not necessarily poets, saints, mystics, or revolutionaries. It creates conformists.

So, during this testing time, we who think differently must pledge to start a new movement to protect education and give our children a vision of a new world free from techno-fascism, militaristic nationalism and neoliberal/market-driven consumerism. . Teachers who have not yet lost their creativity must be encouraged to reclaim their agency and resist the onslaught of coaching centers. We must work with parents who find themselves increasingly marginalized as they feel that their children are born not only to overcome these trials, but to live at their own pace and celebrate a culture of learning with intellectual curiosity and creative experimentation. And we must raise our voices louder. After all, humanity has no hope without liberating education. True, the system will always speak the language of profitability, productivity, efficiency and technical-managerial skills. But we must muster the courage to question the shallowness of these ‘official’ discourses.


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