There is more to school than just grades
What's more stressful than exams? Waiting for the day results come out.
Parents wear their children's academic success like a badge of honour. The higher the score, the better. It has gotten to a point where academics trumps everything, especially the things we care about most.
Even the most cynical non-believer becomes a devout believer before results come out. Considering how much of our freedom rides on a single number, it's not surprising how academics can be a source of stress and anxiety.
You could excel at other activities. You could be an ace at sports. You could rival the best dancers on screen. Your painting could put renaissance artists to shame. All of that would mean nothing in the eyes of society if your grades suffered in the process.
Academics first, passion second. Academics always takes precedence and it can grate on a child's self-esteem and stress them out. When grades are high, you have the freedom to pursue your passion, but when they sink…
No football. No cricket. No dance. No art. No music. No extracurriculars. Not until the grades go back up.
After-school activities get replaced by extra coaching classes or sessions with a tutor. Study time takes over playtime. Textbooks replace novels. Anything to pull those grades back up.
Hard work isn't good enough if your grades do not reflect that. Extracurriculars get cancelled as punishment. Whatever motivation that some had towards school dwindles fast. Cancelling the one thing that keeps them going will not help some raise their grades.
Even teachers will tell remarkably talented athletes or artists to give up on their passions in order to focus on their grades. Schools evaluate students based on their grades. No other metrics exist to evaluate their growth.
When you aren't given the recognition you deserve and when your talents aren't being nurtured, it is easy to feel like you are at the bottom of a chasm with no way out. It slowly chips away from your self-confidence. It feels like you're wading through quicksand. The harder you struggle, the faster you sink.
Not everyone is destined to be a doctor or an engineer like our parents envisioned. Numbers don't make sense to everyone. Memorisation is a chore. There are other ways to make a living that don't require stellar grades.
Some people are gifted with academic prowess, some are quick on their feet, others are gifted with dexterity. Our brains aren't wired the exact same way. No two people are alike. Even identical twins have different personalities. You cannot expect everyone to be good at the exact same thing.
To ask someone to give up everything that sparks joy in order to prioritise schoolwork prevents them from becoming skilled at something they are passionate about. It reinforces the notion that grades are everything and you are a failure when they fall.
Grades are important but so is everything else.
Subah contemplates the meaning of life and existence until the sunrises. Contact her on Twitter @hussain_subah