India is the suicide capital of the world is a known fact, what is also common knowledge to most educators is the fact that students form the majority of the suicide cases in India. Students land up taking this extreme step especially around the exam and result time. Inspite of the acute challenge that we as a country face there is very little that is being done to bring down the stress levels of children and ease the pressure that builds within them.
Parents have to take up a large part of this blame but the onus lies on the school and the educators as they are the ones who are in a position to educate. The change though is not going to come easy, it requires a concentrated effort on the part of the school to educate the child, the parent and their staff. A systemic effort is required to make a real impact.
How do teachers in your school treat a mistake? How do the parents handle failure? What is the kind of support that is given to slow performers? How is a disinterested student handled? Asking these key questions will determine how the students learn to handle their stress. There is a thin line between egging a student to perform and pushing him towards demotivation. Enabling teachers to learn this fine nuances by bringing in experts is a great idea for schools, a good step in that direction is to encourage all teachers to take a course on counseling.
There are many other aspects of education that help in reducing stress levels among children. Physical activities are among the best ways to enable children to distress students. Schools should create ample time for children to be body smart. Music, dance, theatre, art, debate, quizzing and all those activities that schools have always done but not considered as core to their schooling process should be moved right into the heart of the schools focus. The more the children participate in activities that they enjoy doing the more they will start expressing themselves and learning valuable lessons of life.
Thankfully the NCERT has decided to reduce the curriculum by 50% in the coming years, but the bigger challenge is to make that impact real and on the ground. The ball is now in the schools court to declutter their minds from the mad focus of academic performance to the overall development of children and preparing them for life. A wonderful byproduct of doing this is that students will enjoy the process of learning and that will lead to happy and stress free children. As you plan your year ahead, get ready for a fight with the average parent who knows very little about education and believes that its only academic grades that are important for children. The children need you to stand up and make their lives at school more meaningful.