I’ve had this very uneasy feeling since morning. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it until I reached school. I was given the task of invigilating the 9th and 10th Class Board Exam (Essay-1).Since schools close for 4 months in winter in Leh, schools here give their Essay-1 exams in September, which has 50% weightage in the final boards.
Ruled long scape sheets, school seal stamps, pencil box checking, sharpened pencils, brand new erasers, refills and rulers- it all smells of nostalgia. What is it about ‘EXAMS’ that gives us jitters? Do you remember how much you scored in your 10th class Pre-Board Exams? Why does the Indian education system have to be so marks based? Is the topper of your school having the best job in the world right now? Does he not think about quitting it and following his offbeat passions? Do your marks say anything about your personality? Does it ensure life skills to survive out there in the real world?
How much of cramming for exams, is only for marks and how much of it is out of sheer interest of learning those facts? If I don’t know when the battle of Plassey was fought am I any less intellectual than you are? Could there be a future without exams?
My mother at 52, still has one recurring nightmare where she forgets her hall ticket at home and is not allowed to enter the examination hall, and every time she tells me that dream at the breakfast table, I thank my stars (after laughing at her for a while) for parents who never pushed me to get good marks (although they never had to coz I faired pretty decent) and always encouraged my every new whim and hobby.
In spite of all that here I am shushing kids in the exam hall, stopping them from cheating at an exam which won’t determine anything about their lives. Unless they take up Hindi literature as their subject for bachelors or become Bhodhi Pandits. Either way invigilating for an exam sure is a uniquely ironic experience. Especially when you know their every trick in the book, having been there done that, but now it is your turn to put on a straight face and a grim stare to stop them from cheating.