TAMIL NADU

With examinations drawing closer, it’s testing time

Willing to learn: For teenagers, feedback can make all the different. A positive reinforcement approach could work wonders before examinations, experts say. —

Willing to learn: For teenagers, feedback can make all the different. A positive reinforcement approach could work wonders before examinations, experts say. —   | Photo Credit: Photo: K.V.SRINIVASAN

Meera Srinivasan

CHENNAI: For students in class X or XII, particularly those scoring 50s and 60s in their model examination, this time of the year is often a lot of pressure.

From threats of being disallowed to appear for the board examinations to being branded “lazy” or “good for nothing”, this section of students has to battle such branding in the run-up to the board examinations.

“I scored only 47 in mathematics in my first revision exam. My parents were called to the school and my teacher told them I have to improve. Now, they are behind me all the time. I can’t wait for my boards to get over,” says R. Nithin, a class XII student, looking all stressed.

Like him, many teenagers are made to feel low, after being told how irresponsible they are compared to “brighter” classmates.

Teachers, on the other hand, feel that a little bit of pressure is helpful. “Some students are a little indifferent. Some amount of pressure works on these children,” says Mythili Premkumar, botany teacher at CSI Ewart Matriculation School. “Our role also includes motivating students. Putting a bit of pressure is purely in the interest of the child,” she adds.

Acknowledging the pressuring atmosphere that reigns in most homes, too, former Principal of P.S. Senior Secondary School Vijayalakshmi Srivatsan says it is not just those students scoring below 70 who would have to tackle pressure, but also high scorers. “They will have the pressure of scoring 95, 100. So it’s there for everyone.”

Tuition centres also hold a series of tests based on the board examination pattern, but do students really get constructive feedback? “Do teachers in tuition classes have the time to meet students individually to give them detailed feedback? We don’t really know,” Ms.Srivatsan says.

Understanding, processing, remembering and recollecting information are the main skills that students need. When one points out their strong and weak areas, they will be able to address it easily.

“I know many students who scored below 60 in the school examinations, but ended up getting over 90 per cent in the board examination. All that students need is motivation. If they decide to do well, two months is a lot of time,” she adds.

Feedback matters

Consultant paediatrician and adolescent physician S. Yamuna agrees that a positive reinforcement approach is the best way to ensure a teenager does her best.

“Instead of saying something like ‘If you don’t do well in your exams, you will have to graze cows’, try saying something like ‘You are so good at communication skills. If you work on your time management skills, you will do so well’ and the difference it can make is remarkable,” she notes.

Pointing out to attention, memory, language, writing, high order thinking, social learning, sequential learning and special learning as eight areas of learning, Dr. Yamuna says: “Your average individual will have deficiencies in two to three areas. It is normal. Capitalising on one’s strengths is the key,” she adds.

Most teenagers have high self-awareness.

“They are grateful if you tell them what their problem is, without being judgemental. They will come out with their own set of remedial actions which will work out beautifully for them, ” Dr. Yamuna says. Ms. Srivatsan agrees. “The onus is on teachers. They have to motivate the children. Nobody has the right to prevent a child from taking a board examination and at the end of the day, our goal should not be achieving 100 per cent pass, but ensuring everyone does his or her best”.

“Education should be inclusive and ensure parity,” she summed up.

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