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Advocates of pass-fail system in schools are enemies of childhood

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The more you age, the more confused you get. It seems this world keeps changing the parameters for you as you grow older with time.

The latest discovery that has startled me is the fact that all the good qualities that teachers, and therefore the parents too, keep underlining as being ideally desirable in a child, actually amount to nothing. Those qualities may not fetch you even a job. At least not in Google. And the other startling fact is that all the bad qualities that the teachers keep highlighting as undesirable may actually help one get a decent high-paying job. At least in Google. My-my, what is this world coming to?

Good grades all through school days, high IQ, extremely disciplined behaviour, dashy performance in school debates but a tendency not to argue your point and position with those who are in power (read teachers, principals and vice-principals, even sports teachers, or parents and hundreds of uncles and aunties) is what is recommended for every child in our schools.

And here I find that all this amounts to nothing for Google. They are not impressed by these qualities. They are likely not to select you if you flaunt these qualities before them. How dumb!

Now look at the undesirable qualities that the teachers always scoff at and parents always dread. Not getting good grades, not having high IQ, being argumentative with people in power (read teachers, principals et al) and obsequious before those who are inconsequential (they may be even your friends or the ice-cream wallah uncle or your opponent from the rival school dwelling upon a counterpoint that you actually agree with).

Well, if you have all these qualities, Google may even offer you a job. How strange! We did not know that the qualities that our teachers always scoff at are looked upon by Google as assets. How do they manage to run such a great company with such low grade, low IQ people?

Well, if I apply Google’s formula today to my class of my school in my time, I find that the top 5 achievers of my class would never make it as a Google employee. And the 5 at the bottom had every quality of being ideal Google employees. It is really disappointing that those 5 at the bottom were not given an opportunity to try their luck at Google. A couple of them had to quit midway. Others just veered away. They were lost before Google could discover them.

A child has a bottle with 500 types of insects in it. And the child is only 9. And it has remained obsessed with insects for full one month before it made this great collection. It has failed in mathematics and English in all the four unit tests that its school holds with such a great pride in the name of continuous assessment or whatever mumbo-jumbo they call it. Would you view this child as intelligent or worthy of being promoted to the next class?

My guess is that such a child would already have got a few warnings – “not paying attention”, “extremely poor handwriting”, “unlikely to be promoted” etc and may soon be thrown out of school on one or the other excuse.

The irony is that this child may be the most suited to join Google. If only our education system allows it to keep its natural self alive.

The pass-fail system is not only cruel, it is also extremely inefficient and counterproductive in the task of educating children.

It is my firm opinion that all of us must oppose all those who want re-introduction of pass-fail system in our schools. They are unknowingly or knowingly killing childhood. They are killing the joy of learning. They are forcing future leaders and future inventors to drop out of schools and kill their natural instincts.

Real intelligence is not in the IQs. Real intelligence is in the joy of learning and discovering. Every child has it.

However, not every teacher is aware of this. How disappointing!

Akash Tiwary

Akash Tiwary is a freelance writer and a keen blogger. He has been writing regularly for newspapers and has been a columnist.

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