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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rising suicides among school children because of pressure is worrisome

It is really unfortunate that suicides by students in college and schools across India have been rising tremendously. In fact every time after results are announced, we hear a spate of students committing suicides because they could not secure admission in their colleges of choice or could not get enough marks to move on to next grade.

From this post, we can see that around 1600 students committed suicide in the last three years due to rising stress and competition.

More on this here. In fact it has now become a national news shows how bad the situation is.

It is more unfortunate because many students commit suicide as they are not been able to live up to peer pressure, competition and parental expectation.

I have never been able to understand the need to get excellent marks. Yes, it is important to make a great career and get into best colleges, but not at the cost of the lives. In my childhood, I remember the days when I shifted from regional language medium school to an English medium school, I was could not understand anything that teachers and the principal used to say. I had to often ask my classmates about the meaning of each and everything word in English.

Earlier in the class, I was often treated not-so-well by teachers for my poor English skills. Eventually I had to call in my parents to explain to the teachers that since I am new to the English language I have difficulty picking it up. It was a tough journey. There was no internet during those times. There were no “self teaching courses” as today. There were no “coaching or tuition” classes.

All I had, was my English book which was to me was as difficult as Greek or Latin. I use to look at, with a lot of amazement as if they were some magic words. I slowly worked on my English. From a no one in English, I can speak and write now in English very well.

Fortunately on my part, there was no pressure from my parents to get the best grades. I often had toppers in the class licking their wounds when I scored highest marks in those subjects that I liked. It was not the English but ancient language “Sanskrit” that I excelled in and later on in Physics. I never studied for grade but still topped in subjects of my choice.

Why I am using my own life as an example? Just to show that people perform best when they are left to grow by themselves. In organization, society and family, often an individual is put under a lot of pressure to perform even though he/she is either not competent or not interested enough. I could for e.g. never be good at sports how much I tried. It was not my cup of tea.

The undue pressure on the kids to be excellent in all subjects is frankly leading them to wrong path. I know kids who score more than 90% in almost all subjects but at tremendous cost to themselves. Under pressure from all sides and because the media craziness about scoring more and more marks, only thing on their mind is to get to top and score the most.

In one of my post how schools are destroying entrepreneurship, I talked about how excess of courses in schools is actually destroying creativity and individuality of a student. It makes him/her run a perpetual race, unable to understand what he  actually needs .When he moves on to a college, unfortunately, the same system continues with all its negatives.

Parents add up to the pressure on children

The aim of an average parent (Indian or otherwise) is clear. Their child should go to a school get good marks, get into a good Engineering college and finally get a good job. Nothing wrong with that, except the fact that the protagonist of the story (the child) never gets a chance to explore his abilities fully. A child, right from childhood looks for approval from his parents, then teachers and then bosses for almost all his life. To live up to the constant need to meet expectation, he works harder and harder, almost crushing his own soul internally.

When there are bad results a child does not have the maturity to take the stress and parent’s frown. Often this results in child taking extreme steps of harming himself.

How schools add up to pressure on the child?

Schools add up to a different kind of pressure on the child. In a school, there is a large variety of students with different abilities. Some of them are exemplary in studies and some are good at sports. Unfortunately, most of the time comparison between students is based on % of the marks obtained rather than the quality of the answers. The common denominator remains the same.

Hence, a student scoring 75 % is automatically assumed better than the ones scoring 70% . However, real life issues cannot be solved just with higher marks. The success of a student in the later life is hardly dependent on the marks that he or she has received in the school days. Unfortunately as if in a time machine, students are put to exams every year leaving no time to develop their own abilities.

Current scoring system is odd in my opinion of looking at children’s performance or knowledge. Here is how it harms them-

  • ·         It makes them cram the books and not analyze subjects.
    ·         It puts them under undue pressure to perform
    ·         It tells them that failure is not right and they have to be right always if they want to be successful
    ·         It stops them from thinking out of the box
    ·         It does not prepare child for handling real world problems.
    ·         It forces them in a herd mentality
    ·         It widens the gap between entrepreneurial and job oriented mentality.
    ·         It discourages thinking and analysis.

It is really unfortunate to see the cascading effect of the pressures of the society, parents and schools on young minds. The rising suicide snuffs away ingenious, young minds who could have become great scientists, poets, artists or doctors. Sad but real!!!

                                                                                                                     By Team SevenHills Hospital

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