The Indian education system is textbook oriented. It strictly focuses on memorisation of lessons and demands long hours of systematic study everyday with elaborate study schedules. There is a high regard for academic excellence in our society and those who fail to meet up with these expectations are often faced with harsh criticism which ends up creating self-doubts about their abilities, talent and intelligence. Students are constantly pushed into a corner with the cut-throat competition and the pressure put on them by their parents to build a bright future and lead a successful life. This extensive pressure on the students not only obstructs their growth and development but also increases their anxiety and stress. This hectic routine leaves students with little to no time to socialize and for recreation. The educational system in India is highly competitive because of the inadequate amount of decent institutions to accommodate the ever-growing population. As a result children face a lot of competition from the very start.
Parents these days are too concerned with how the world will perceive their child or children based on their academic success. Since the educational institutions are always on the lookout for the excellent, brightest and talented students to meet their standards, every parent wishes it to be their child, hence resulting in parental pressure. The notion that the excellence and success of a child, and in turn a parent’s, is based on how the others perform academically. Apart from this, if a child has interest in other areas like sports, music, art, etc., they are expected to excel there as well. This disregards the wholesome development of a student as an individual with interests. Majority of the parents criticize their children by comparing their performances with those of their classmates who have better performance, which results in a sense of rivalry and competition instead of encouraging friendships. They keep thrusting and pushing the boundaries, which at the end puts a lot of stress, anxiety, disappointment and depression.
Being constantly pushed to perform or to be the best in both academics and extracurricular activities leaves students with deep rooted nervous disorders from an early age. Ultimately some students find it hard to cope with the demands and emotionally collapse when the stress is high. The unemployment situation in India also adds on to the pressure and provokes the parents to badger their children to perform well and be the best. It is also possible that in some cases the parents are trying to fulfill their own incomplete dreams through their children. This hardly leaves any time for the children to either watch T.V or play outside or even get enough sleep. It is only logical that students end up being nervous wrecks when examination pressure ascends. Indescribable headaches, migraines, strain and hypertension have been becoming alarmingly common in students, especially among the high school students.
In India, education is given a lot of value and children are made to choose at a very young age what career path they want to pursue. Once it is chosen, their career path is sealed whether they are happy about it or not. The rigid educational system does not provide enough space for them to change their decision. Even the Indian film industry has started to showcase the seriousness of the parental and academic pressure put on the children to fit a particular box, teaching them never to colour outside the lines. Taare Zameen Par is one of the good examples, which promotes the motto ‘every child is special’. The story is about a young boy, suffering from undiagnosed Dyslexia, who can be seen struggling to keep up in school and is quite frequently mistreated by his parents as well as teachers. He is shown to be a very artistic child but due to the societal pressure, abandons his art and tries his best to fit in. The film not only identifies the suffocation and stress students have to face on a daily basis but also that if the child is deprived in any way or form, like their socio-economic status or their caste or any physical or mental affliction, then it becomes that much harder for them.
Parents play an important role in the lives of children as they help the latter develop their beliefs about education, success and self-worth based mostly on the perceptions of their parents’ expectations and beliefs, which over time become their own values. The pressure placed by the parents is usually conveyed in a more subtle or indirect manner through the practice of early socialization in regards to certain vital and crucial values such as respecting the elders, the importance of education and responsibility towards one’s family and life, which is usually associated with the social responsibilities of family and career. These principles and ethics become a part of the person from a very young age which later are internalized by them as their own.
Being a student is stressful and it is the parents’ and the teacher’s responsibility to help the child create a space where they have room to breath and relax a little and to tell them that it is okay not to excel in every academic sector. Both the teachers and the parents alike can help the child understand the importance of time management and consistency. This would help in reducing a lot of stress of finishing all the work last minute and might also help keep them motivated. It would also help if they acknowledge the children’s efforts and aim to create lessons which have a deeper level of understanding rather than just burdening them with some figures and facts. But most importantly try to communicate with them in a non-judgemental, patient and accepting manner. The students, especially high school students, might be reluctant to talk about what is bothering them but by letting them know that they have someone they can talk to can relieve a lot of pressure off of them.