I look at the clock, 15 minutes left!! I have ten more questions to answer and times running out. But wait, not only time, the ink ran out too!! I search my bag for an extra pen ,after what feels like an eternity I find one. I scribble away, only to find the time is up. The teacher is coming my way collecting answer papers from other students and I try to answer one more question. ” Give me the paper!!”. “Sir, please, let me finish this one answer.”, “Give me the paper, now!!”.
I wake up, sweating! It takes me a while to realize it is just a bad dream. Thank God, I don’t write exams any more, I think. But the nightmares never seem to stop.Its been more than twenty years since I wrote my last exam but I still get nightmares of exams. Every dream is different. In one nightmare, time is running out and I am stuck in the toilet, another time the paper runs out. Once I forgot all what I studied. Such cruel situations, my mind cooks up to just scare me! But after the nightmares, the sense of relief that washes over me that I no more have to write exams any more, that’s so comforting.
I don’t remember being very nervous about exams, may be except for Maths paper. I was not one of those students who prepared for the exams as if that’s the most important thing, yet, i get these dreams. May be somewhere deep inside my subconscious fear lay coiled regarding the exams.
I look at my young kids, as they prepare for exams. They are scared if they will ever finish revising. Rechecking if all the chapters are covered.
Exams are necessary but why have they become nightmarish? Every year, the syllabus grows and exams are tougher. In the end, I feel we indirectly give a signal to kids that they go to school not to gain knowledge and learn new things but to prepare for exams. A rat race for good grades. Why? Because grades are necessary to get admission in good schools and esteemed colleges. Good scores get you scholarships. If you get into a good college you will get a good education. Good education (again with high scores) results in a good job. Good job means good salary. Good salary means a better lifestyle. The race-list never ends.
We have set a definite pattern for life. Best part of a child’s life is the first four years. No worries, you crawl, walk, run (not in the rat race!) and enjoy it all. You learn umpteen things and get only applause and admiration. Once you start school then race begins. As parents, we sometimes pressures kids to score only A’s in exams. I hear myself beginning to tell kids all good things that come with good scores, then stop myself. I just try telling my son, study because you will learn so many new things. Enrich your mind with knowledge, that will certainly help you some day. Let him learn to study and enjoy that, then exams will be a breeze, I tell myself.
Looking back, my schooling was fun. Grades, ranks, exams were important but we had so many other things to do. We tried our hand in sports, arts, drama, music, debates and it was fun. We loved to participate in competitions, annual days and cultural activities. That helped us find our talents and strengths. Textbooks and school bags were much lighter. Exams much easier. I am glad I was born in that era where we did so many other things than just getting ready for the next weekly or term exams. Even after that I still get exam-nightmares!
I hope my kids are enjoying their school days. I think otherwise, looking at the big bags and the bent backs bearing the burden. I hope they find their passion and interest between the numerous surprise tests, weekly tests and exams. I hope when they look back they don’t see themselves with their heads inside big books but smile what a colorful, happy journey that was. Also I pray, they are spared of the nightmares, that I dread to this day.