Fear of Exams

Everyone has fears in some form of the other. The ‘Fear’ of ‘exams’ somehow lives through one’s life time. Off late I find this fear far greater in students, they are simply terrified….

Why should not they be, after all educational institutions actually spend more time in conducting exams and exam related activities than imparting education/knowledge. I am not joking; the schools in Kerala opened in the first week of June, and I am to believe that the FA1 assessments are over and the results published in most schools! What worries me more here is that the exam culture is inducing a results based approach to life, as in ‘What will I get if I do this activity? What are my benefits? Will I be able to brag about this to others?’ Now, the fear of exams is primarily because of the fear of failure. However in schools one does not have a choice, so everyone goes through the process of exams and ensures that the exam has been cleared by hook or crook. However in real life exams don’t come announced.. And the so called failure of exams in life is taken seriously by the folks around. It even goes to the extent of being ridiculed and the individual is considered a LOOSER!

This leads to the most important trait that is observed in individuals today, “Let someone start, I will follow”, “just in case there is a failure I will have someone to point fingers at!” Where has all this fear come from? And what is the solution ? Seriously I have no clue. Sometimes I feel life has become too easy these days. The stress to “live” has been replaced by the stress “to live better than my neighbour” The same is the case with children, they are under tremendous stress to perform at school and everywhere else. We as parents never leave a chance to ridicule them or compare someone else with them. I can hear a lot of voices shouting at me, “Come on don’t be ridiculous, we never ridicule our child”. You are right, I kind of agree, however what we don’t realise is that we unconsciously do things, or say things that gets interpreted in the form of a ridicule. The children of this generation are super intelligent, smart, and sensitive. They can sense un-spoken words, they may never challenge you, however the experience gets stored.

Hence it is important for children to experience failure, and accept it as a part of life. As parents we need to allow our child to FAIL, sometimes knowingly, support and guide them through the failure. They need to realise that failure is part of life and it is part and parcel of every individual. Have you bitten your tongue? I am sure each one of us has, now isn’t that a failure of the co-ordination system or some aspect of our human body, that allowed this event to happen. But then we don’t keep a track of it or make a list. What I trying to say is that there are so many such subtle failures that happen with us or around us, which we don’t care, hence let’s take the slightly bigger forms of failure also casually.

Something that struck me recently between my childhood and the present is near extinction of Story Telling. Story telling mostly or always happens in the mother tongue. Story telling was always an integral part of our culture, however the invasion of the ’idiot box’ and hordes of cable channels, have eroded into the minds of children, who instead of learning about their own culture live in a bubble formed by the utopian stories of foreign culture. The Jataka Tales, Hitopadesha, Mulla Naseeruddin and the likes of them impart knowledge, bring us closer to nature, teach ahimsa, and above all develop the humane in the human being. All these forms of stories have situations of failures which are never highlighted as failures. Hence right from the tender age these stories formed invisible armour against the negativities of failure, and hence failures were handled better.

The fear of failures evolves into the fear of exams and this evolves into the procrastination to start any activity, for in their minds they have already seen the failure and hence do not want to experience the success.

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