Now that exams are in full swing, did you watch the Bournvita Exam Sale Video that went viral recently? Watch the video above before reading further. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The video features a clearance sale a week before exams, where students are selling their hobby artifacts for free because their parents feel that scoring marks is more important than pursuing their hobbies.

Kind of a more permanent version of ‘no TV and no cable connection in March and April’ during my school days.

I watched this video a couple of days ago. I was greatly moved by the concept and the execution. The futility of reducing an individual’s ability to a single score is something that bothers me deeply. Kudos to the branding team of Cadbury Bournvita! I’m sure this video tugged at the heartstrings of a whole bunch of Indian parents, teachers, teenagers and also the general public. I was one of them.

On further reflection however, I turned a tiny bit skeptical. Once the emotional knee jerk reaction abates, what then? Will parents of teenagers suddenly stop caring about marks? Would there be countless instances of “jaa beta jaa, jee le apni zindagi” in our overly peer-pressured households? The 10th grade and 12th grade board exams — will they suddenly matter less? No, No and No.

A system predicated on marks

The truth of the matter is that competition is an integral part of our students’ reality. Exams are a tangible effect of that competition. Unless our entire education system goes through a Herculean overhaul, exams aren’t vanishing into thin air any time soon. From Spelling bees to IIT-JEEs, from Olympiads to PISA, exams are here to stay.

Our children are invariably going to encounter exams in every step of their life where their performance decides further course of action. The crux then is to accept this fact and change our approach in engaging with this ubiquitous reality.

Doing Something About It

I propose a three-pronged approach with which parents can battle this beast.

  • First – please do not reduce your child’s value to a single dimension of exam marks, no matter how important you think it is
  • Second – develop a healthy relation with the art of writing exams. Children can learn and hone many necessary skills on time management and other strategies
  • Third – children (any individual for that matter) are a beautiful combination of a diverse set of intelligences and abilities. Appreciate who they are, encourage them to learn new things and challenge them to be the best versions of themselves at all stages of their growth.

As to my advice to students, stay calm, prepare well, bring your best to the exam hall and chill. It is not the end of the world. And enjoy the process!

Featured image credit: Youtube

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