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When time stands still

Youngsters are expected to give up all extracurricular activities and focus on their board exams. NEETI SARKAR wonders if this is fair

Photo: K. Gopinathan

Last minute It is tough when one has to cram all year round without anything to break the monotony

We have all heard of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. This statement holds true for most youngsters as they approach what is sometimes referred to as “the most crucial examination in life,” the board exam. Be it b asketball, swimming, dance or martial arts, majority of students complain that this part of their life comes to a grinding halt practically a year before the board exams.

With all the fuss about coaching classes and crash courses, students are left with barely any time for a break. Marilyn Mathew is already preparing for her I.C.S.E exams. A district level swimmer, she has been “banned” from participating in tournaments by her parents. “I feel like I am under house arrest. I don’t have time for extra-curricular activities anymore,” she laments.

Her mother, Christina, expresses her concern saying, “It’s about time my daughter realizes the seriousness of studies and gears up to face her public exams.”

Cosmic rationale

Most youngsters wonder why they have to sacrifice one activity for another. Vednath Kumar, a parent of two, offers justification when he says: “This is probably the only time when a student is expected to give his best to his studies. If he is preoccupied with two activities at the same time, he can give his best to neither. Therefore, one has to make a wise choice”.

“Students are hardly left with a choice, when at the crossroads of life,” asserts Roopesh Shetty, a 15 year old who has stopped playing cricket for his school, to start “focusing” on his studies.

Harman Singh, a promising young tennis player, though disappointed that he has to discontinue tennis for at least a year, fully supports his parents’ decision. “It is obvious that my parents want me to do well and want the best for me, which is why I do not mind the restrictions they have imposed on me”, he expresses.

Vanita M.R., a school teacher says, “With cut-throat competition at every stage in life, children are forced to compromise on everything for their studies. Everybody wants good marks and parents are making sure their children get to the top, any which way they can.”

Need of the hour

Psychologist Shruthi Ahluwalia feels “It’s time parents realised that the need of the hour is not groom their children only academically. It is all about striking a balance between work and play.” She goes on to explain that “it is unfair to rob a child of all the other activities that have been a part of his life thus far.”

Tough breaks

The most unfortunate part is that a large number of these students who take breaks to prepare for their exams, very rarely get back to playing or participating in those activities that they gave up for their studies.

Nivedita R., a judo champion stopped practicing for a year, keeping her board exams in mind. It has been three years now since she appeared for her board exams, and she still has not rejoined her martial arts classes. “I have lost interest in judo”, she states. The reason she attributes to this is “the long duration” during which she was “expected to only study.”

This scenario is just one of the harsh realities that come with preparing for the much-anticipated board examination. The question is, does examination fever actually bring one’s life to a full stop?

Exam blues

With coaching and extra classes, most youngsters have to give up sports

Most students who take a break do not get back to the activity they had given up

Psychologists feel one needs to strike a balance between work and play

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