Chin up

Behind Every topper is a student who is struggling with poor results.

Results may bring cheer and celebration for those who perform well – but there are other students for whom results time brings shame and disappointment. Take the case of Rishi Singh who performed dismally in his class 10 exams. It’s not that I wasn’t prepared. But somehow, I blanked out entirely during two key exams. The months that followed were harrowing for him. Although I had already secured admission in a college abroad, the trauma of a poor performance was painful. I began to question myself and my abilities,

In this age of 90 percent scorers and academic toppers, students who are not academically inclined are often forgotten. But make no mistake; they are fighting a battle of their own. My daughter (now aged 17) has always been a poor student. Although she is bright and enthusiastic in class, her exam results are usually below average. It is at times disappointing as every parent wants a topper in their child.

Compare and contrast

If there’s one thing low performers hate, it is being compared to others who do well academically. Arts student says, during my school years I wasn’t the smartest kid in class. But my best friend always performed outstanding. I used to resent the comparisons my teachers would make. Comparing students further de-motivates low performers. While teachers tend to compare within the peer group, parents often compare among siblings. This is harmful and demoralizing and could lead to lack of interest in academics.

More than marks

Academic performance is not the only aspect of a child. But unfortunately, few are willing to accept this. Marks continue to be the final and only barometer of a student’s success. Society’s generalizes success. Society generalizes academics failure as failure in general. This is unfair to the child. We need to recognize that not everyone is inclined towards academics. A child’s interests and talents may lie in other spheres.

Just because a student tops the class does not mean he/she needs to be made the class monitor on every occasion. Teachers must give an equal platform to every child and appreciate the inherent non-academic talents presents in him /her.

Coping Mechanism

Performing poorly in an exam has serious repercussions on the child’s mental and emotional well being. There are two commonly observed response mechanisms. The students may develop a state of over anxiety with regard to exams. Conversely he /she may become disinterested in studying and develop an indifferent attitude. Both these reactions are extreme and unhealthy.

Coping with academic failure is important in rising above it. The first step is to cope up with the inner weakness. Student need to build their self confidence and accept the fact that academic failure is not the end of the world… It is only when the student is personally convinced about his / her abilities that they can take on external factors like parents, teachers,, friends and society.

Support Systems

The role of parents in helping the students cope with low academic performers is pivotal. Parents need to instill a healthy outlook in the child. They should make the child understand that failure is not the end of the world. Dialogue is essential. Younger children need greater support than older ones as maturity helps cope with failure better.

Teachers can also help the child overcome the trauma. As a teacher for over four decades, I have seen countless students who were very bright but did not do well in exams. I made it a point to personally speak to these students understand their problems and guide them. Additionally, even friends and peer groups can be immensely supportive during times of failure.

At the end of the day, life moves on beyond that score card.