Fear of Tests

Fear of Tests

No matter what test it is, there’s always a fear of test crawling into my confidence, slowly weakening it.
… ….

No matter what kinda test that I’m supposed to give, there will always be a fear of test imbibed into my inner self, crawling over my confidence and slowly weakening it.

The fear of test doesn’t go away as we grow up. It stays, hidden, ready to attack whenever another test or task comes up. It was so dearly implanted and nurtured by parents, teachers and society during my education years that now it is almost impossible for me to ignore it.

Usually, we sense this fear as soon as we get to hear the word – test or any of its synonyms. We feel so dejected by the fact that we are supposed to be giving a test soon. And that is not just the only food to feed this fear.

No matter how meager the value of the test is or how less it’s gonna impact our life, everything around us conspires to make it such a big deal for us in our lives that we also believe in that!

When it comes to giving a test, there’s always a cost of exam attached. Hence, we fear that our expense might not yeild proper return if we don’t clear the exam in the first attempt.

Our family members keep on reminding us about our exams and that we should be working for it, that we should be practicing for it. It keeps on hitting our gut so hard that the test is such a big deal and we won’t be able of clear it is we don’t try hard.

On the day of exam, our mom brings ‘dahi shakkar’, giving us best wishes for the exam. But that too reminds you of the exam, the seriousness, if you have forgotten it.

This all happened with me recently… I had my driving test.

I don’t own a car. I haven’t had driven car ever in my life. I took driving classes, which were pretty bad actually. And I didn’t have any practice for the driving test. And I can go on and on giving excuses for my lack of preparation for the test. But yes, I did have that fear of test even in this case.

All the events that I narrated above happened with me, except ‘dahi shakkar’. But yes, praying before God happened in my case, that’s the way we do it in my family instead of ‘dahi shakkar’.

Then all the fear accumulated and came out while giving the test in various forms like perspiration, heavy breathing, and haste and lack of confidence. My mind went blank and I did miserably at the things I was good at actually. The result was negative. And I came home with my first failure in life.

People say that failures are very important if you want to achieve something big. Well, it certainly didn’t feel anything like that. I let. E while episode pass by and thought it to be just a driving test. Not a big deal. But the fear of tests was not to be defeated so easily.

As soon as I came home, my mom came out running, eagerness on her face… She had already assumed my result to be positive. And it took me great effort to prove it to her that I was saying the truth when I said I failed.

Then her expression turned from eagerness to worrisome bothersome tension. That expression which can give you goosebumps instantly inside your head. The fear of test started to creep into me again.

She asked me several questions about what went wrong. I sincerely answered. Then she gave several advices on how I should have taken up this task and explained to me how poorly I had practiced and what were all the flaws in my methodology.

After an hour of discussion from her side, and listening from my side, I actually started to feel bad about not clearing the test. And that was another food for my fear of tests.

Then I spent the whole day thinking about the whole episode and it bothered me to much to not have cleared it at one go. I was already scared for my next attempt. And that was when I had lost the game… even before playing it.

All the people who knew about my driving test asked me questions for the next whole week. And they never let me conquer over the fear of tests in my mind. All of that made the roots of that fear strong and well established in my guts.

The constant nagging, reminding of the tests, setting of expectations and my good self nature of trying to honor their expectations, all the time, made it worse.
I was on the verge of breakdown… When my friend talked with me about it and laughed. She said what’s the big deal about a driving test! It doesn’t even impact you in anyway serious… I calmed down for a bit.

But people were always trying to bring out the fear from deep inside my heart… For it never dies. It stays, lives with us, feeds on our confidence and helps us in every way possible to fail the test. Brings us all the pain of not meeting the expectations and the mockery & harrasment from society.

So I dedicate this failure to all those who helped me not forget my fear for tests and to all those who have made sure that the fear stays with me forever… Thank you.

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The Curious Case of my Sister

The Curious Case of my Sister

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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?

“Meeeeeeet! Don’t do that…”

😀 This would be the first time I’d be starting a post with a smiley face. But the way it is, it is..

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I used to get such don’ts every day with an eyebrow raised and finger pointed. I used to look scared at first and then give a teasing smile, seeing which they used to smile back and look away thinking that “Yeh nahi sudhrega!” (Meaning – “he’ll never change!” in positive and loving way)
So this post is for those great people who understood me (or at least tried to), tolerated my teasers and made huge efforts to bring me to the place where I am…

I remember the first time I saw her. She was all serious and strict looking. I got scared on her first look. But still managed to gather all my guts and say good morning to her with a smile no one can resist to smile in return. She did it too. And put her heavy hand on my head. I felt like.. I can’t put it in words but it was good… We did not have much time in common, but when she was leaving the school, I went to her and requested her not to leave us… I could see a tear drop from her eyes and don’t remember anything after it… She was my Principal at my first school.

I was always of a kind that couldn’t accept anything wrong in any way. I would always stand against it or at least try to not be one of them. My mom taught me once that after eating something, I had to wash my hands and mouth, and throw the garbage in the dustbin. At the school, I ate a chocolate during a on-going 1st standard class at primary school (yes you read it right 😛 ). After eating, I had to throw the waste in the dustbin. But I couldn’t find any. So, I asked the teacher to show my where to put the wrapper. She asked me to throw it away from the window or to put it in some corner. She actually searched the dustbin too, but couldn’t find it either. (May be someone took it to empty it). But I resisted all her efforts to make me throw away the wrapper and concentrate on studies. Ultimately, she gave up and told me to put the wrapper in her purse. I followed the instructions… Still after 10 years, when I meet her, she reminds me of that incident… 😀 That was my first Primary Class Teacher.

Moving further in my memory lane, I find that Sir who never taught me anything at school. But still he was my favourite teacher and I his favourite student. Every day, I used to get up late and end up missing the school bus. He used to drive his bike to school and I used to ask for a lift. He would take me with him without any lectures on getting up early. That’s it… That was all we had common in our memory lane… But after all these years, when he looks at me, he feels happy at his decision at that time to not had given me any lecture on punctuality. No not b’cuz I’ve become punctual or something..! Cuz nothing would have got inside my brain… 😛

Then comes two teachers, who actually taught me at school. They still miss that innocent looking, but not at all innocent, talkative like hell but still studious, sincere but not at all obedient student… They used to pardon all my mischiefs in class, as I compensated everything by getting a good score. I remembered that day when they actually scolded me and I thought they were kidding and kept on smiling, which eventually made them smile too! 😉

One of my teachers liked me so much that she started scolding her own child (having same name as me) that why with same name he wasn’t like me!! 😀

But I had nightmares too! Which I don’t think deserve a mention on such day…
Parent’s meeting always has a dreadful day in the memory of a student. But for me it was all fun… My parents used to ask them for anything I did wrong or any mischief or any complaint.. But my teachers always favoured me 😛 It was fun to look at my dad’s face that he didn’t get a chance to scold me… 😀 I and my teacher used to laugh silently at this! My parents were so used to my good image at school that one day one teacher actually made a complain for me that I talk too much in class and my parents took it as a joke.. 😀

We always imitate our teachers… Mimicry is the best part being at school. There would always be some or other uniqueness in everyone, which the student would catch easily and then there would be blast of mimicry sessions and laughs! I still remember all our teacher-style-codes that we used to prepare for each teacher and then give them a rating… We used to try match that score by competing among ourselves by mimicking their style – sometimes even in front of them. (Don’t ask me what happened after that..) 😛

Now it is always a difficult to write thank you speech cuz we have to remember each and everyone in the list. Even if we forget one person, it looks like we are irresponsible or rude. So to include those million teachers that taught me, I’d just thank them all.. Without naming anyone individually..

It was my habit to give roses to my teachers on Teacher’s Day as a token of my gratitude towards them for what they have done for students like me… I still remember their faces when I used to go to them, about half a height as them and call them with all the cuteness I could… And offer them the rose. That smile that they gave in return and the way their eyes looked at me – Oh I miss that!! But as now our lives have moved on and we can’t actually go meet everyone we intend to – I wrote this piece just to give my heart a peaceful time (and to laugh at some of my childhood trivial moments)… 😉

Hats off to you guys… Teachers are truly wonderful souls…

P.S.: This is not for those guys who call themselves a teacher, but engage in partiality, money-logging and avoiding to teach their students the right thing…

A visit to a school

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Everything was normal that day. The sun was up from the east, the sky was all blue, wind bowing at normal speed… I woke up rubbing my eyes like a small kid who wanted to sleep five more minutes 😉 When I came out of my house, my mind didn’t even have a slightest guess that what was going to happen today. I thought it to be a normal day as we have everyday…

I was walking on the road to my workplace, thinking about something I don’t remember now… The road took a sharp turn to left. I walked forward, when all of a sudden a girl of an age around 12 came running from a building on my right. She was running as if she was running away from something, or from someone. While running she slipped and fall on her back…

I ran towards her, helped her up, and asked her if she was hurt. She looked at me and I felt a weird sensation in my belly, as if something was moving inside me. Ignoring that, I asked her again while she kept looking at me. Finally she replied a no by shaking her head left-right.

I glanced at the building from where she was running. It was a school. I asked her “Why were you running away from the school?”

She replied “I’m afraid…”

“Of what?” I asked back.

“Of the people there…” She said with her head down.

I was confused. I myself hated the people at my school who loved to spoil my childhood with exams and rules. But I never ran from them, instead I gave them a challenge to teach me. 😉

I held out a hand for her, which she took. We walked back to school. Then she abruptly stopped and looked at me. She was frightened, literally! I consoled her by saying “Don’t worry! I’m there with you. I won’t let you get hurt. You trust me?”

She nodded and after a while said “So you are my friend?”

I smiled and said “Yes.”

When we entered the school, she held my hand very tight. I wondered what scared her so much…

The school was good. I mean the infrastructure. There was a huge round water-pumping artificial tree. On my left there was parking lot and on my right there was a security office. The entrance was glorified with architectural design and the name of the school highlighted on the wall. There was a pole with our national flag hoisted on it (For a second I looked at it with pride)…

The school was so silent that even our footsteps could be heard clearly. I asked her about her class. She was in 6th class. I looked around, trying to find her room. I was feeling totally nostalgic being there. Those friends, those pranks, teasing the teachers, punishments, walking out of the class as if we had won a battle! 😀 Bunking the theory classes, sleeping on the last seat, watching out of the window, those quick glances at our crush…

“I don’t want to go there! Let’s go to the play room. You play with me… Please!” She said in her most persuading manner. I smiled and then agreed. (I myself wanted to go back to that time) We played games for some time, even other students there joined us. Then all of a sudden there was a long trrriiinng, indicating that it was recess time. From everywhere around me, kids dressed in similar uniform but dissimilar shapes and sizes came running. Some with their food and others with glaring expression of happiness to have successfully completed that one hour torture. 😛

She pulled my hand and took me to meet her friends. She introduced me to everyone of her friends saying that I am her new best friend and that I helped her life. (By helping her get up on the road 😀 Kids are so innocent…!)

I had few chocolates in my bag which I distributed amongst them. They fought like soldiers to get a grab on those, which made me laugh so much. I told them stories, they told me theirs; one girl asked me whether I had any girl friend, upon which another girl squawked at her that she got no chance. Already I was occupied with my little friends. 😀 I wondered how these little angels learn all this!

Playing games is the most interesting part in recess. They played all kinds of classical, modern and self-made games. While few played I don’t know which game by different sized balls. 😀 They argued with each other about the rules, which were changed everyday as per convenience! And then one over powering boy would announce rule of the day. But then few rebels opposed him. I wondered how these skills vanish as these kids grow up, that they have to take up classes for improving their skills.

The break was over. It was again time for so called studies… But people around me didn’t go to their classes. Instead I heard a big thump somewhere and everyone around me started running towards the ground. I looked with confusion on my face towards my little friend. She was looking at me, already…

“Don’t worry! Nothing will happen to you. No one has come here for ages! People seemed to have ignored us totally. But today you brought happiness in this school. For years we had waited that someone would come and play with us. Someone would feel for us, someone would offer us friendship. But no one came. Today you have brought peace to these people. Even I would be at peace now that all of my friends are finally happy and not scared…”

I was looking at her dumbstruck. What was she talking about! I had lost her completely…

She smiled at me and started walking reverse from me, as if teasing me to catch her. I went towards her and she started running. I followed her. She took a turn at one of the doors and when I reached there, I was horrified at the view! There was nothing there. The room, where there were a few dozen kids, was completely empty. The furniture was totally damaged, as if it was burned or blasted. I turned around to look at the main hall and couldn’t walk any further. I fell there on the floor with my mouth full open.

The school had turned into a ravaged building. There was nothing there. All the trees and plants that I had seen there before were no more. The walls which were of light blue color were now painted with black ash, with red blots all over it.

Fear crept in me. I shouted with all my might for help. Where was I? How a school building turned into a desolated and despoiled structure! Where were all the kids? Was I dreaming? I slapped me on my face and nothing happened.

I ran here and there. I called for my little friend. I came to the main entrance of the school and was shocked to see that the gate through which I had entered was no more there. It had fallen on the ground. I turned around and cried in shock. My little friend was standing in front of me. There was a big bulge on her head. Blood was flowing from that…

“What happened to you? … How did you get hurt? … Tell me! Why are you not speaking anything!”

She raised her hand and said “Come with me. I’ll show you what happened here.”

She took my hand and pulled me inside the school again. I chocked to see there were bodies of hundreds of kids all around me. But they were not dead (Maybe). They were looking right at me! All with the same expression-less faces… I looked at my little friend for some explanation.

She told me to close my eyes. I followed her instructions. I saw the school back to its original form. I heard a gun shot behind me. There were 7 gun men with masks on their faces. They shot the security at the gate and ran inside. The hall was filled with kids. It was probably the recess time. They came and took control over the school. They were probably fugitives. They were beating the kids, even shooting those who tried to escape out of the school. I looked at them flabbergasted…

One of them came running towards my little friend. She ran towards the stairs. I followed them. We soon reached the terrace. My little friend was standing on the edge of the terrace wall. When the fugitive tried to get her, she jumped from the wall. I shouted in pain and ran towards the edge. I looked over it and saw her lying on the floor, dead, blood flowing out of her head…

There was a huge explosion and the building started burning. I came back to the ground floor and saw there were several small human figures burning in fire. I sat there crying…

“Why God? Why let these kids die like this!? I can’t do anything to save them. God! Why?”

A hand patted me on my shoulder. I looked around and there was my little friend. She was crying too. Then she hugged me. I hugged her back… All the kids came to us too.

“For a moment, I thought you people as my family. I… I’m sorry guys. I… I just… I…” I was chocking with grief.

My little friend said “Don’t worry! You have given us your friendship. We always wanted a friend who would come and play with us.” She was smiling at me. And so were all other kids. “We will now rest in peace. Good bye bhaiya, you’re a good person.”

With that they all disappeared. I came out of the school building. I turned to look back at them. And saw my little friend waving at me. I waved back to her. She gestured me to smile. I tried to give her my best smile…

While walking towards my workplace, all I was thinking about was those kids, that school and those fugitives… What “mission” did they achieve by killing those young lives…!?

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What happened to that?

This time, I’m gonna take you to this jolly ride to our childhood and bring you back to your present reality…

 

Remember those times when we used to be kids? We used tocommunicate using signs, screams, and eyes. “Communication process was taught to us in school. But didn’t we know that already? We used to communicate with our parents, nurses and caretakers well. We didn’t speak, but we used to communicate to those even then using gestures, postures and nonverbal communications.

Remember when we learnt speaking for the first time, we used to jumble the words, speak incorrect pronunciation, use incorrect grammar… But they ignored our mistakes taking us an innocent child. When we grew up, we learnt other new languages, but this time, while using this new language, our mistakes were punished by our teachers. Why? Aren’t we in the same situation as that of a child who is learning a language for the first time?

We used to play Cricket. We used to manage each one of the heterogeneous but useful eleven players. We leaded them, motivated them that we could beat even the strongest opponents. We used to bat, bowl and even field! We used to be all rounder. We fought to get that first batting. We did all our hard work to get position of ‘Captain’. We even got involved into politics to confirm winning for our team! We used to negotiate our number in the batting order with the captain. We used to bully others when we could and even influence others (with false sentences) who bullied us!

We were applying all these arts of communication since childhood.

But then, what happened to us by the time we turned into an adult?

Why do we fear speaking to a huge crowd? Why do we have to attend those seminars and lectures? After all, we did well while we were kids.

Remember when we used to fly kites on festival of ‘Uttrayan’? We used to run behind falling kites. Without breaking the eye-contact with the kite, we used to jump across the terraces, run across the streets, uneven road and pebbles, stones, ditches.. But never did we endanger our lives. We were totally aware of our potential and the hurdles in between, with which we calculated our odds and went for the action. What happened to that kid who was so confident, multitasking and having great judgement?

Remember the time when we played marbles? (Kanche/goti/lakhoti?) How we used to focus on the 2 cm diameter marble from about 2 meter distance, ignoring all the noise that distract us around, all the teasing comments that other players pass, all the vehicles and pedestrians… Now we take classes for increasing our concentration, attend several seminars to increase power of our brain. What happened to the concentration and focus that that kid had?

Remember on the occasions, birthdays, marriages, etc. We used to sing a song, dance, mimic and entertain on request of those strangers. We never felt humiliated, never did we fear the ridicule, and never did we had any stage fear! Then what happened to us? How did we end up in this kind of situation that we have stage fear, fear of ridicule? How did we start feeling shy? How nervousness started taking our toll?

We have forgotten what we were once and are running behind the so called “education” that is screwing us in the worst way! We pay several bucks just to remember back what we already knew.

The kid was never shy, never nervous in speaking out, blabbering out anything and everything, without knowing the correct answer. But then he entered the “classroom“. There he was taught a lesson… The time when he was asked a question, he innocently replied whatever he thought was the answer. The teacher scolded him for his mistake. Other fellow students laughed at his ridiculous answer. He was punished to sit at he last bench for the whole day. He learned (not the answer, but) that he should never answer if he is not sure of the answer! And from then, the fear of ridicule started…

Then he moved to the next level in school, where he was asked to speak on the stage. He spoke as he used to when he was a child and he used to blabber in front of the crowd in functions. But then he was again laughed at for his nonprofessional attitude and childish behavior! He was punished for use of fun in public speaking! He was taught another lesson that he can’t speak in public. From there fear of public speaking started…

His self-confidence was hurt when he was ridiculed at while public speaking on the stage on some stupid topic, he never cared about.

He never desired to her ranks and fame. He just wanted knowledge. But school teachers forced him to do more, more than he already did, so that he could get rank and that would bring fame for the school. He became proud and more arrogant upon getting those ranks. But then in the real world, people showed him that ranks were not important for making friends. Ranks were not important for getting job. He was anguished at his condition. The fear of failure started creeping inside him.

Over the period he grew adult, all his communication skills and confidence corroded. He was very vulnerable to social perils and had zero public exposure. He was reserved personality. He was shy and timid. He was too arrogant and pessimist. And it would be wrong to say that he was like this, because he was made like this! School days made him like this.

I would urge to the schools and teachers that please stop screwing with the lives of young minds! If you can’t make their future, stop ruining their present!

Einstein once told “I was born intelligent, education ruined me!” Now I think he was right.