On exams, marks and piranha: for children and parents contemplating exam results

Dear child o’ mine,

When I was your age, I walked three miles to school, over a bridge that collapsed in the monsoon, ironed my uniform to a crisp, and spit-shone my own shoes. I had no computer and relied on my brains to…


Let’s start with that brainpower. When I passed out of school, I was terribly proud of my marks. So were my parents. Ladoo-sharing proud. Now when I see the exam marks you lot are getting, I almost pass out. The cold sweat is from realising that the marks I’d got, which catapulted me into all sorts of prestigious colleges then, would now have me scrambling at the lowest rungs of the ladder, just out of reach of the snapping jaws of piranha.

The truth is, we had it easier. There, I said it! Kids today are so brilliant that parents today would never survive being kids today. Two years before your board exams, you go underground, stop playing and become Vitamin-D deficient (all for a good cause), shun distractions, work out sample papers till midnight, wake up before the crowing rooster to drink your energy drinks and go at it again. You deserve your stratospheric marks.

School was a place of learning for us too, lest we let our beloved alma maters down.

We learnt geometry through the best angle to fall asleep at, to stay hidden behind the classmate sitting in front.

We learnt to improve our writing by writing ‘I will improve my writing’ a thousand times.

We learnt history. True, we forgot the exact dates of battles, but we learnt why wars were fought. After a knee-scraping, hair-pulling fight, we learnt that no one cared later why we’d fought, and celebrating victory wasn’t as sweet with a bust lip. We learnt that wars are about egos and no one really wins.

The marks we were proud of were the scars on our elbows when we fell off the tree but got the kite or the mango or the kitten down safely.

Marks are important. Your marks today are testimony to your hard work, proof that you will stick with the toughest tasks to get to the finishing line. We’d have wandered off midway to read a comic in the shade of a tree. We were an easy-to-please bunch, but you’ve set your bar much higher.

Celebrate your marks. Let no one belittle or scorn them. If any adults mutter that exams are easier nowadays, dare them to sit for one. And remember, mark sheets, like elbows, cannot be compared. You’ve learnt to walk the three miles, to cross the water-logged bridge and swim with piranha in one of the toughest stints of your lives. Wear your exams like war wounds, your signs of a fight well fought. You’ve learnt way more than what these exams measured.

With incalculable (ahem, remember, we grew up without computers) love and pride,

Your ‘my-kid-will-kill-me-if-I-post-this’ parent.

Where Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway Boy, pokes her nose into our perfect lives.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:30:34 AM |

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