JournalismPakistan.com May 28, 2015
I am very happy for all these children getting 99.9% marks these days in arts (move over Shakespeare) and I would love to meet the geniuses who give children such perfect scores in languages and stuff. It is a cruel world out there and this is so unreal that if these children come unglued when some nasty little boss flings away their copy they will be in for a shock. Nobody gets 99.9% in a language.
And I love the way schools announce cent per cent results and conveniently ignore the ones they did not send up for the public board examination. Signs of failure are hidden.
But it is grotesque when the top mark is in the high nineties. Maths okay, algebra I’ll buy it. But on an essay at 16. Get out of here. What yardstick is adopted?
You are messing these kids up.
The highest marks I ever obtained in my otherwise sunny school career was a 77, achieved partially because no one was looking. Most of the time I was the sort of sacrificing student who made it possible for the others to shine.
I knew I was smart, I just wasn’t fanatic about it. Besides, when we were in school it was a slightly wimpish teacher’s pet kind of thing to get 77 marks in anything. Teachers also did not give you over 60 unless you deserved it which usually you didn’t.
So when you got a self-respecting 53.5 your parents blessed the Lord and had a small thanksgiving.
We didn’t really care.
That’s why it came as a bit of surprise when, on a visit to a close friend, I find gloom as thick as a fog greying the family cheer. Their son is sobbing his heart out, great wracking sobs. The father sits sallow and grim, his head in his hands, the mother, stern and tight-lipped, a tableaux in sorrow.
Being quick on the uptake I say, what happened?
Ask him, says Daddy bitterly, Yes, ask him says Mummy, her eyes rippling with unshed tears.
The young man executes a couple of heaves and I say, what have you done, son, tell Uncle Bik. I’m sure we can solve it.
Ha, says Daddy mirthlessly.
Ho, says Mummy heartbrokenly.
The boy hiccups and careens off into another wail.
His exam result has just arrived, says Daddy, It’s all over, our dreams shipwrecked on the rocks… rocks of… rocks of…
Reality, says Mummy, harsh reality. Our hopes dashed on the pebbles of our bad luck (where did this one study?)
He’s so smart, I say, how could he fail?
Wish he had, they say, wish he had, better than this… he flings the paper at me. The boy has an 82 aggregate.
I say, that’s great. What’s the fuss about?
What do you know, he says, that’s the twilight zone, neither here nor there, no decent college will touch him. He won’t make any merit list. Oh, what will his grandfather say. We wanted him to become another Denton Cooley.
And the whole family goes into this group version of ‘Woe is me’.
Has everyone gone nuts?
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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