(Please refer to SIMPLY GETTING DEGREES & JOBS IS NOT ENOUGH, THE REAL THING STARTS THEREAFTER before reading this post. Both of them are interconnected.)

(A student to another student) – Hey, what’s your overall percentage in this exam? I’ve scored 99%. 

(In response) – Aaa……….Not that bad. I’ve scored 89%.                                                                

(In response) – You scored well. But I got 10% more. I secured the highest.

(The same student who secured the highest to his/her parents) – Yippee, I secured the first position in this unit test. I had beaten up all the top students.                                            

(In response) – Oh that’s nice. You’ve made us proud. Now, you should prepare more & more & more for the next term so that you continue your position. One mistake & all our hope would be lost. So prepare well.  Don’t worry about tuition. We’d get you as much as you wish to.

(Teacher to the student who topped) – I’m highly impressed by your marks. You need to work ready hard to keep sitting on this position. Your marks are after all the marks of this school. You’re our proud. We’d give you all the supports. Keep it up!!                                                

(In response) – Sir/mam, I’m working really hard. I’ve increased the study hours too by 2 hours. I’d try my best to fulfill all of your dreams. I’d top again & again.

(A neighbor to the student) – How’s your studies going on? Remember, you’re the hope of this area. Your marks would inspire others. You really need to do well. Study hard. Fulfill the dreams of everyone. If you ever need any help from anyone of us in any way, you’re most welcome.                                                                                                                    

(In response) – Uncle/aunt, I’ve secured first in the last unit test, as usual. I’m just doing my best anyway. Your well-wishes & blessings would be of utmost importance to me. I’d definitely ask for your help if I need.  

This hypothetical conversation between two classmates, between a student & parents, & between a student & a neighbor, is quite common these days. Everyone is rushing for marks. The race is on. One mistake & everything finished. Students, parents, teacher, & everyone are just interested for 100%. It’s now changing to a fashion of getting good marks in exams.

Competitions, competitions, & competitions.  It’s just like a virus which has been infecting the whole system & the solution lies deep. As pointed out in my previous post – ‘Simply getting degrees & jobs is not enough, the real things start thereafter’ – marks are really not everything. But convention has changed. People are not seeking for real talents, but marks. This world really doesn’t need any learning machine, which go on memorizing everything & pass all the tests. We need those who can’t be simply compared by all these marks which only lie in papers. We need those who can think analytically, practically, logically for the real world, & not for a virtual world of academics. But as convention is changed, getting marks is in high fashion. Competitions are everywhere. Parents don’t want their children to be talented in real world, but they want them to secure 100 out 100. Today we don’t want wise people, but top rankers, because we’re in a high fashion of comparing through marks. We decide everything through some couple of numbers.

So, is competition a good practice? Would marks of exams decide our face & fate? Is securing the top most rank show that you’re talented? Should parents put their students in the dangerous world of competition? Is competition draining the real abilities of students? Is competition producing learning machines, or is it producing wises? Should parents expect their children to be top rankers in academics, or top rankers in the real world? Should marks be secured ‘anyway’, or should they be secured only & only through correct form of learning? Should a society be ruled by one who was successful in academics & failure in real world, or one who is successful in real world & failure in academics?  Is competition becoming a dirty game? Finally, is competition the root of failure?

We’d discuss all these hot questions here.

In a general or natural sense, competition is not a bad practice at all. In fact, competition is a mere natural character of living beings. We compete with our fellows when things are not equally shared, or simply because, we want more. Competition can be noticed among other life forms, be it a bird or an animal, or an insect. We all compete with each other for something which is valuable to us. But this competition has a dark side. Competition may not be that bad for other life forms, but in the complex society of human beings, competition has been turning to a bad game. From a very early age of life, students are asked to compete with each other for marks. Such feelings of competition get into the minds of students, & as they grow up, these feelings develop more & more. Students use to focus simply on getting marks, & not learning. Learning no longer remains their intention, but the marks. As such, learning process starts to break down. Not only it finishes the learning process, but it also inculcates other bad habits. Students start to cheat in exams. Because everyone is comparing itself with marks, getting one mark less than the rivals would decrease the social standard of the student. Today, this is the mentally of students. Parents also have such feelings. They think that if their child doesn’t secure more than that of others, their status would go down. They’d have to face shame in society.

Today, almost every student is inside pressure cooker, where flame is considerably high. Every student faces the pressure of competition. Such competitions may have not be that bad at all if they’re not taken as status indicator. But today, one’s mark shows his/her status. Everyone is taking them very seriously. Students face pressure or tension of getting good marks. In any way, they need to score good marks to keep their status on. As shown in the conversation, today everyone is trying to compare themselves through their own marks, or the marks of their children, or of their students, or of the toppers of their area.

Though not all the exams indicate the social status, exams like HSSLC, HSLC, JEE certainly indicate one’s status. No doubt, competitions are naturally occurring phenomenon among humans, but today’s scenario shows that such competitions are ruining the thinking or ideology of students, & the society itself. There’re a very few parents who like to see their children as talented & want them to do something good for the society. The rest believes that everything lies within the marks of exams. People are comparing one’s knowledge, skills, talents, abilities only through the marks. People are taking all these as the means to show their statuses in society. Competitions & exams were not made to weight each other in society. Their main motive was to help students to test whether they understood all the concepts. But things are turning toward opposite direction. Today, competitions are to show off one’s status.

As their parents, teachers, neighbors, relatives, all hold hopes for the top most position, students often need to carry burdens on their heads to secure the desired positions. Competing to become a good & a complete person is the right way of doing competitions. But competing for some marks, & comparing with others, is not a good practice at all. Today, students cheat, fight for one two marks only because they’ve the pressure in their heads that they’ve to score more & more. There’re lots of suicide cases due to this. When, they can’t get the marks their parents or others wanting them to get, students commit suicide. This is a very depressing side of competition. A sense of severe jealousy & anger develops in the minds of students when they don’t get more marks than their rivals. This can also lead someone even to murder. All the kinds of negativity that can happen lie in competition. This is not because competition itself is bad, but because people are taking it in the wrong way. People don’t have the feeling that all these are doing nothing but lose, lose & lose.

As the title says, competition is the root of failure. Why? Well, competition would insist students to try to get marks only. By this, the learning process couldn’t be processed. If students were not doing competition with each other, they’d try hard to learn only. Also, competition would place a pressure on students. They’d have tensions, nervousness, & lots more. By this, students wouldn’t be able to appear well in exams. They’d also not able to face the results of exams. If they can’t solve a particular problem in exam, they’d try to discuss with each other. Some would also bring cheats from home. They may get good marks in exams, but this wouldn’t be their real marks. Also this would spoil them. If they get less mark than others, they’d feel depression, jealousy, angry, abhorrence. Anther ill effect of competition is rote learning.  If a student can’t get the concepts, he/she would start memorizing the concepts in order to get marks. By this, one’s analytic ability would decrease. Now, when the students would appear for national or international entrance exams, Olympiads, or any other exams of higher level, their problems would start. First & the foremost, they’d not be able to solve the problems. But why? Because in their lower classes, they use to memorize the questions, or didn’t study as they should because they had the pressure of competitions. Gradually, all problems would start to rise. The most important of all these is the application of abilities in real world. During the study days, they used to memorize things, used hundreds of references, did dozens of tuitions, did cheatings, fights for marks, etc. But in the real world, they’d not be able to apply their knowledge. The objective of education is to produce those who can apply their knowledge in this world. Getting marks is never the intention. It just gives you an idea of how you’re getting the education given, & nothing more. Competition ultimately leads a student to failure in some cases. Though some might argue with me about this, but that’s the reality these days. Competition turns a student to a learning machine & nothing more. There’re other negative aspects of it, as discussed above. People still don’t understand that nothing lies in the virtual world of competitions & all these things. Main thing lies in what you do in this real world. There’re many toppers in academics, but there’re few toppers in the real world. What is the value of getting good marks if they can’t utilize their knowledge?

Now, what should have actually happened?

In ‘Simply getting degrees & jobs is not enough, the real things start thereafter, I had listed few practices that an ideal student & ideal parents should do. (Please refer to them). Here, as the main topic is competition, I’d mention few things that an ideal student & ideal parents should do in oppose to competition:

  • The student should develop an interest for learning.
  • He/she should not develop any intention of competing with others.
  • He/she should only compete with itself to do more & influential.
  • He/she should keep on learning.
  • He/she should consider marks as a medium to test his/her learning.
  • He/she shouldn’t care about what other students get.
  • He/she should try to improve if the marks are not as expected only by seeing his/her own performance & not others.
  • He/she should try to develop good qualities & become a complete person.
  • He/she should always utilize his/her knowledge in the real world.
  • He/she should never take his/her academic performance as status indicator or anything else.
  • His/her focus must be on to utilize the knowledge to do something influential for the society.

These are what an ideal student should do at least, & ideal parents or teachers or anyone else should ask a student to do. ‘Simply getting degrees & jobs is not enough, the real things start thereafter was completely based on the simple fact that marks, degrees, jobs, & all these are not everything. The real things are what you do after these. Here too, the things are almost same. Only, here, I’m talking about competitions. As mentioned earliest, here, I’ve no intention of saying that competition is a bad practice in general. But, the way we take competition is bad. If one compete in a fair way with itself, then, in any way it’s not bad. If one compete with others in a positive & fair way, then also, it’s not bad. But if one compete with others in negative & unfair way to get marks only, and then it’s bad. Competition becomes bad if one compete to get more marks than others, even in unfair ways. Those who focus on learning, & applying knowledge, & competing to become a good & a complete person, get success in life. Competition exists in every level, but they shouldn’t be taken otherwise.

In conclusion, I just want to say that always focus on what you can do with your knowledge. The real world doesn’t seek for those who were good in academics, but those who are good in this world. If we notice carefully, we’d get many scholars of past, who didn’t have any formal education, who simply kept roaming here & there, but they eventually, changed our view towards the world. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t take education & keep on roaming around, but I just want to say that marks, degrees, positions, & all these are not of that value, or in some senses, they’re meaningless. But the real thing lies in what you do for the world. If all these were of that importance, all those people couldn’t have done what they did. So, concentrate only on what you can do practically. Competitions are just to develop skills in you by hard working. It’s not to compare with others. Such competitions lead only to failure, & nothing else.

Competition is the root of failure if it’s taken otherwise.

Always focus on learning & doing innovative for the world. This is the real competition…!
(I request readers to post their views regarding this matter in the comment section. Today, this is a very important matter to discuss. Comments from readers would help me to decide whether I’m right or not in my view. This would also help me to write more on these matters. Feedback are most welcome!)

 

Copyright©2011-12 Sandeep Deva Misra

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