The Curious Case of my Sister
Last night, I came to know that my cousin sister was suffering from depression. When my aunt narrated the whole case to me, I felt anger, worry and disgust at the same time for various things and people.
She is in her junior high school final year. Her final exams are going to decide her fate for high school admissions. Apart from the fact that those exams were necessary for her further studies, they got her into clinical depression. However, the exams were not the only reason for her illness. There were other reasons involved too.
When I had last met her, she was doing her homework. Out of curiosity, I peeked into her work. She was writing word-to-word, punctuation-to-punctuation from the textbook into her notebook!
I asked her if she was given any punishment or what, that she was copying each letter out of the textbook.
She replied that this was the way they taught at her School. It was a general practice to write the whole chapter two times word-to-word from textbook. So that they could remember the whole text and answer any question they might ask in exams!
At that time, I had pointed out that it was not a correct approach and that she should work more on understanding the concept than on scoring marks in exams.
My sister replied that her School and her Board/University expects Students to write exactly the way the textbook prints. If they wanted a good score, they had to mug up the textbook to score good. Writing answers in their own way would only give them passing marks or even less. And if they don’t get good marks, they won’t get admission to reputed colleges/institutions. The degrees and certifications won’t be that valuable while competing for job in big companies, as they shortlist candidates based on their final score.
This highlights a serious problem with the education system in our country and the systems dependent on it.
While her teaching approach was as useless as her teachers, another thing that got her into depression was lack of rest. I got to know her daily schedule from her mother.
– Wake up at 5 am
– 7 am to 12 School
– 12 to 2 pm Extra Classes and Tests at School
– 3 pm Reach home for her first regular meal of the day
– 4 to 6 pm Tuitions
– Reach home and start working on homework (such as copying of whole textbook) from School and Tuitions till late night 11-12.
– Then go to sleep dreaming about tomorrow’s day at school, taunts from teachers when she’s not able to recite word-by-word from the textbook and the test.
And after this hectic schedule, she was not even able to understand the practical implications of what she was studying! Her teachers would first humiliate her in front of the whole class and then call her parents, if she didn’t complete her homework or couldn’t recite the textbook fluently. And her teacher wouldn’t accept any other answer or concept suggested by other authors, but only the things written in their textbook.
So the reasons that caused her depression were hectic schedule, pressure from teachers and school, pressure from society and future, illogical and orthodox educational and evaluation system and ignorance by parents.
I see our educational system going on a wrong direction of marks-based evaluation. Several tests, semesters and projects are loaded onto the over-occupied minds of students and then they are pressurized to score well. Competition among the students adds to the pressure and the silent support from parents serves as a multiplying factor.
So what can be done about it? Anything at all?