Our world today has prescribed  measures of standardisation which does not leave any room for Belgium chocolate ice cream with Brownie chunks dipped in Aber Falls dark chocolate coffee liqueur!! Yummm!!

The world will have us believe that only vanilla ( I have nothing against the ice cream) and a few very slight variants  are good for you and indeed get you palette ready for the more exotic kinds. Oh well!!

Why would want the non-standard ice cream? After all it is a risk and comes at a hefty price.

Let’s see, even clothes. If you are not ready to buy the standard size and designs off the H&M’s and Mango’s of the world sure you can go to one of the boutiques and get customised designs but remember there is a risk and yes there is a price. Why not stick to the standard; you can buy five or more for the price of one. And then there are the SALES as well, think about all the advantages!!

The world will have us believe that the standard has a sense of security with least risk; it helps you blend in.  But there exists a world beyond this. A world that has been hand crafted by the dreamers and the risk takers who went out and said – I want the Belgium Chocolate ice cream; vanilla is just not good enough for me.

What do these people have in common?

Apart from the dreaming and the ability to take a risk; they did not conform to the standard measurement of anything – not intelligence, not economic viability and not even the standard system of working. They have ruled by breaking all the rules.

So here I am talking the complete opposite of what I wrote in my last article. But if you read carefully, I am not. It really is an extension to it.

I understand that the generation seem to be focusing on the shortcomings of the education system and are driving themselves to being discontent and hence looking for an alternative where there is none to be found. Do I blame them? No!

And yet the-keep-it-safe attitude kicks in because I too am conditioned like that. Unfortunately majority of our children will grow up conditioned to conform to the standard. They too would look at the wildflower and believe that it would not bloom when the time comes and not be able to appreciate the fact that the wildflowers, unlike the rose, are more resilient and can grow in even the most hostile conditions. And yet, while the rose will find their way into the conference rooms and get to enjoy the air conditioning- the wildflower will have to brave the outdoors and breathe the fresh air.

I wish on the other hand that we could teach the children the beauty of individualism. The advantages of knowing oneself and then adding these to reach a destination that is unique to them. Maybe one day they will learn to question what is taught but in a healthy manner.

They learn to question IF it had happened instead of WHAT happened in a History class. Maybe then they could analyse the situation better in order to apply it to their future. Perhaps even imagine that IF the British did not rule India back in 20th century and instead partnered with India and treated all equal. Allow the children to imagine a cricket team with the strengths of England and India (Pakistan and Bangladesh). Think about the economic power. Think!!

They learn to question the HOW instead of WHERE in geography and perhaps learn how they can save the shift in agriculture. The capital of the states can be found on GOOGLE!!

Give the children a bag of plastic and ask them to get rid of it – waste management. When they bury it out of their sight for lack of an alternative, that is when they will understand the Pollution Problem–and that would be one big Physics lesson done without words!!

The world has moved towards the customised life whether it is ice cream, clothes or cars. Why are we not adapting our Education? The other things are not half as important, and yet we have this misunderstood devotion to the standard education which churns out students with standardised intelligence and dreams. Don’t our children deserve MORE?

So do we let them take a plunge and give up education all together??

Maybe not!! Not just yet anyways, but instead of marking them down and calling them a fool for thinking in a non-standardised manner – Try EMPATHY. Do not ridicule their attempt to chase their dreams; rather try to see their dream with them. For once – Give them a CHOICE.Maybe then you can find a balance between your desire of standard achievements and your child’s attempt at UNIQUE EXCELLENCE!!

It’s another day at work and I got an unusual yet a common question thrown my way.


When do we know that the education will not help me anymore?”

I wish someone had recorded my expressions at the moment because I was seriously stumped. Here I am in the business of selling Education and mostly encouraging children to study, study well or study more depending on which stage they are at. To say that I did not have an answer would be an understatement.

What I said to this 16 year old and what I really wanted to say to him were not the same. What I wanted to say to him, as a parent, would not come as a surprise to most parents who are reading this.

Let me give you both the sides and you could perhaps decide for yourself, which route you would take if YOU are ever in my position.

First and foremost, when I call this unusual and yet common, I am not putting forth an oxymoronic statement. It was unusual because I was just not expecting a 16 year old to ask me this, after all you are 16, and I wanted to say – GO STUDY. Yet it is perhaps the most common thought that the 16 year olds have today – What is after all the importance of these studies? Our education system is perhaps the one industry that is not KEEPING UP with the super fast train of the future. I do not therefore blame the children for harbouring these thoughts. Yet it is important for us to steer them in the seemingly right direction.

As a parent I just wanted to stop him right there and tell him that there is no SUBSTITUTING EDUCATION. No matter what you think, there are NO SHORT CUTS. More importantly I wanted him to acknowledge my authority as a parent and not argue with me about it, respect my wisdom and believe me because what I say is based out of my numerous experiences. I have seen the WORLD after all.

Sounds familiar???

Well I admit this was my first reaction, and he looked at me, almost as if he was challenging me to come up with these arguments. But I did NOT fall into the TRAP.

He, however, fell into MY TRAP!!

I asked him to convince me that education was indeed going to be useless. He enthusiastically set out on this task.

His very convincing and appropriate arguments:

“I want to become a DESIGN ENGINEER FOR GAMING which is my passion, which no school is teaching. I am already learning the coding language called #%$###$%^ (I did not even understand). I am pursuing a University level course in AI (artificial intelligence – again a grey area for me). Most importantly in school I am wasting time studying subjects that are meaningless for me. They have no impact on my future.

To become someone important in this field I need to come up with something groundbreaking, not study what is being taught, after all that is PAST ITS SALE now( He used so many technical terms that it felt like I was in a conversation with someone at ISRO or NASA).

Did you know that the job we will eventually do in our future do not even exist today, so the PRESENT school and college will not prepare me for them!

(The final blow)Did you know Bill Gates and a million other Tech Guru never went to college!!”

Again – Sounds Familiar???

It was MY TURN!

I got my chance to get THIS GENERATION to listen to me, and I was not going to blow it.

Here is a synopsis:

“Even if I were to agree with you that the present education in school is not preparing you for your future Jobs, it is preparing you for the FUTURE. Schools and university have one very important role to play in your life – that is to prepare you for LIFE. Education while important is but one aspect of it. Interaction with peers, dealing with situations and even facing failures which together form the education that you need to participate in.

The formulas and the technology that you will study here will probably become obsolete, I agree, and yet it is like increasing the number of safety nets. You don’t know when you may fall and which of these nets will come to your rescue.

The classmates are also going to be your competition tomorrow. A good business person always take stock of competition, think of this time as that. Value your competition and also value your accomplices. Each would be equally important in the future. Would you begin a venture before analysing competition?

Dropping out of school will take away a few things. It will steal away the memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life. It will take away the one chance that you will get to form lasting friendships. Are you willing to take it? Think of them as a cultural exchange programme. Learn from everyone around you. If you think the education is not what you need, GET EDUCATED about other things – INTERACT, OBSERVE, PROCESS.

The most important aspect, unfortunately, the world has certain expectations. You will have to live up to that just to ensure that someone LESS CAPABLE than you does not steal the job from right under your nose. He would have a degree that employers can identify with and you DO NOT. That might give them a CHANCE and you may not get any. Do you want to take that chance?

Even in the SHARK TANK the children participants get a deal only if they promise to continue their school/college or the deal is off. These billionaires must know what they are talking about!!

Btw –Bill Gates definitely dropped out – but he dropped out of HARVARD – He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) he had first reached the pinnacle before taking the plunge!!

Mark Zuckerberg – Harvard – developed Facebook while he was there.

So Reach Harvard first!!”

That was my final SET GAME & MATCH!

“Education in our time was not what it is today, we were never this stressed!”

If Google could run a survey about the one line that is probably the most repeated in any conversation, I would assume this would win hands down. The cycles of examinations lends popularity to this infamous line and probably makes it the CROWNED WINNER. While some parents defend and find justifiable causes for the same, SOME whine and complain (the latter is found almost everywhere and the former category is a rare almost extinct species).

The statements and discussions are usually heated and almost violent which might give you an idea that the participants are ready to march and protest with hunger strike (do not be fooled, its only a decoy ,they may not necessary want to leave the comfort of their homes). Sometimes these discussions are complete with facts and figures of what the government is doing and more importantly NOT DOING, and sometimes these are just second-hand discussions (discussions done before and the punch lines picked and repeated for effect). These are usually followed by the epilogue:-

What can we do about it? The Children will have to learn to deal with it.

I don’t believe in pressuring the children so I do not EVER tell on marks and grades, they are meaningless.

So where are you going for the summer break this year?”

I have been part of many such discussion and I am quite certain so have you all. You may have been an active member or perhaps just a silent observer (in my case that is an impossible situation – being silent). Each of these discussions has usually left me with a certain sense of shortcomings – Both as a parent and as an Education Consultants. I have seen the parents turn to me for Miraculous Solution to the highlighted problems. Finding solutions, however, seem similar to looking for a Tiger in a Tiger reserve. We know it is around somewhere, the guide promises – it is sitting round the corner or hiding in the bushes right ahead, after all we saw the PUG MARKS. We are asked to sit quietly without a sound to hear the CALL. Meanwhile we drive across the sanctuary in an open Jeep braving the ROUGH TERRAIN and the BUMPS, hoping to experience the deliverance of finding what we are looking for – THE TIGER, or in our case an Education system that works. Sometimes when you catch a glimpse of the majestic beast you feel like you have somehow won a battle and also invoke a sense of achievement that says “We have managed to save you”

My point here, well there really is just one – keep the battle on. The solutions that we all think is round the corner,may not well be. It is a long road ahead and a longer wait for sure. The road is going to be difficult for our children, but it is only as difficult as we make it for them. Love and Support are the only tools that will help the children brave the ride and can also reintroduce the excitement during the difficult drive

We condemn the education system and make it sound like a monster. This indeed makes education an UNFRIENDLY AND DANGEROUS MONSTER in the eyes of our children. A Monster they have to face, and they are not even armed with the magical SWORD. The children turn to us to form opinions, even when they will not agree, we do shape their beliefs.When we highlight our disgruntled opinion, our children are imbibing these. While we can end the discussion with a heavy sigh, the children have to experience it.They are impressionable – what we think about someone or something, in this case the Exams, Education etc, will form their fears and opinions. There is no doubt that Fearing something is not the best way to combat it and our negative opinions are doing just that – Invoking a sense of fear “If my mother and father do not like it and think it is harmful it must indeed be dangerous”

Just as an experiment, try the other route, try Encouragement for a change – Just one more step and you would be there. Try Acceptance – grades matter but not so much that everything else dilute in comparison. Empathy – after all you all have experienced it too and all you wanted was reassurance as well.

We all know what is best for the children – it really is no rocket science but we do get caught up between what WE WANT to say and convey and what we THINK should be said and conveyed.

If we let go and slack today, my child will not be prepared for tomorrow – what about college and what about the job?

These are the years that will be instrumental in formatting the rest of their lives so let them work hard now.

If I let the grades slip now, they will never come back up. Even though I don’t want to be hard on my child, I will have to be. I just cannot accept these grades!!

I am betting that most of us face these dilemmas and somehow we lose the battle of the heart to reason. I completely understand that and know that it holds true BUT…..

There is a huge BUT,

But I don’t want my children to live their lives dominated by FEAR. We need to asses our own child and watch out for when anxiety is overtaken by PANIC, when hard work is overtaken by BURDEN and when excitement is overtaken by EXHAUSTION. We love our children and we look out for their FUTURE. It is time, however, to look out for their PRESENT AS WELL.

Some of you, who are reading this, might be parents. If you are, do you have more than one child? If you are not a parent, then think of two of your closest friends and answer these:
Are they different in behaviour?
What about mannerisms?
Choice of Food?
Maybe the choice of colours?
How about how they tackle problems?
Mornings! How are they first thing in the morning – grumpy or charged up?
Now do you think if you had more children say 8-10, by law of average would they have more commonalities?
Or perhaps even an average behavioural pattern. Would they?
Let me answer that for you – NO THEY WILL NOT. They are going to be as unique and individualistic as the other one – to say the least they will have THEIR DIFFERENCES. One will wake up enthusiastic in the morning ready to charge while the other will surface slowly– Two more minutes that will often extend to 10 minutes after the alarm goes off. One will understand the maths concept in one go and the other, well! This one might take longer than the PRESCRIBED TIME. They will have some similarities; after all, they do come from the same genetic pool. But do they have enough SIMILARITIES that you get confused between them? Unless of course they are identical twins. Even then, do they really?
Now let us apply this to a standard class size of 40 or in some expensive school to 20. Do you think these 20 students have a similar average pattern? They do not even come from the same genetic pool; there are not so many similarities. So to make things easy we find the average of the differential beings.
But there isn’t an average behaviour or an average understanding. Not really! Why then are we fixated to have average teaching, average standardised exams and to top it all AVERAGE STANDARDISED EXPECTATIONS?
Science has proven that there is no average person with an average brain or functionality. Yet we have built our education system around an average brain that functions and understands in an average standardised manner. We have divided the students, class sizes and even class duration with the same standardised thought process. We know and believe that – An attention span does not last beyond 45 minutes. My guess is, this was probably scientifically proven at some point of time by taking inputs and studies from thousands of students and then arriving at the average, mean, median etc of the collected information. Hence the class durations in a standardised class are prescribed as such.
But what if a student’s attention span is shorter? On the other hand, what if the student finds a class interesting and wants the class to be longer? Unfortunately the standardised system does not allow these DEVIATIONS, as they are often termed.
So what are we doing wrong? I would say a whole lot!
What can we do to make it right? I am not sure I have an answer to that.
Does getting an A grade in English tell you if your child is creative. Does it say if he is a team player or that he has leadership qualities? Not really. It is not a judgement parameter. All it tells you is that he did well on some questions that were posed at him on a certain day when he wanted to answer them. What about a day he did not feel like answering them?
You may understand some of the predicament of the school; they do have a procedure to follow. Ideally we should:-Teach a student in a manner that is best suited to them in an environment that optimises their ability to learn. For this a students would have to be seen as an individual and the school should teach a subject which is relevant in a manner that is unique to them.
Can it be done? Yes!
Will it be done? Most likely not.
Let us be fair to our schools. They are doing a lot, and I do mean that. Should I be grateful? Absolutely! Given the scenario, especially in India, where the demand and the supply is mismatched the school and the teachers are overburdened and underpaid. No matter which school set up you look at, this is a common thread that you will find. In these situations, given the rate of change of our dynamic world it would be a task to evolve with them.
My intention of writing this is not really to find faults in our standardised system of education (there are so many that I will reserve that discussion for another day). My intention is to help you realise that there are differences between your child and the educational institution. There could be a chance that your child has differences but can yet overcome them. He/she can in-fact cope up and understand at the pace that they are being taught and therefore probably secures grades which fall into the ACCEPTABLE ZONE (what is this, is another question I would like you to think about). But what if the differential score is larger than acceptable?
Allow yourself first to take a step back and just for a moment not blame your child. He/she is not “not studying intentionally”. It could be that he/she is not being taught in a manner is of interest -We have our differences. It could be one of the many other reasons that affect the academic performance: Mindset, Behaviour, Grit, Acceptance, Relevance, Belonging. All these are interlinked and together affect the academic performance All of these also affect a students in a different manner. It is importance to spot where this chain is perhaps broken or entwined. All it might take is some repairing, if you know where are how.
Each child is jagged. We all HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES and that is in-fact a good thing. Our life would be so boring if both our children were indeed identical. Imagine a world filled with identical. We would be living in identical houses reading the same book eating the same food. Actually think about it, we would not be reading anything, we would all have the same thoughts then what will be left to share? Our life is interesting because of our individuality. Do not kill it just for the sake of ease of CLASSIFICATION –Genius, Intelligent, Average, Below Average or Dumb!!

“We all strive to be like everyone else – or, even more accurately, we all strive to be like everyone else, but only better. Gifted students are designated as gifted because they took the same standardised tests as everyone else, but performed better. Top job candidates are desirable because they have the same kind of credentials as everyone else only better. We have list the dignity as everyone else, only better. Our uniqueness has become a burden, an obstacle, or a regrettable distraction to the road to success” – Todd Rose, The End of Average

This is one of the questions that I wish my readers answer. Think!

Think really hard and then answer – What do we want for us (if you are a student)? What do we want for our children (if you are a parent?) Is uniqueness indeed in danger because we all want Standard?

So I understand that most people will say that these are one of those questions that have no right or wrong answers. Yet these are questions that require answers, and it is important to find the answer that is Right For You.

Is it right to hide behind the standard because we do not have the strength to battle for the unique?

Is it right that we encourage the standard or the ordinary and then applaud when we see (someone else) extraordinary? Oh yes, but we always add – “he/she had different circumstances”. Sure they did and they faced it and more importantly fought it.

As an education consultant, I encourage students to identify their Skill Pool before they embark on their journey of choosing the best course for them. Skill pool is an attempt to retrospect. Each of us has a different set of skills that we acquire as we go along. Some are even genetic. These together make us UNIQUE. It is therefore extremely surprising that we spend most of our student life and then our youth trying to get rid of this unique feature to try to become the AVERAGE. It does sound like a conspiracy theory to me, does it not?

The Conspiracy is to disregard the Individuality or the Uniqueness. Conspiracy to encourage standardization and make us believe that it’s the best way forward. To recognise and applaud the individuality, the first step is to recognise the flaws of standardisation. If the system recognises the flaws,then the system will have to work to create and alter the existing systems to match the individuality.  Sounds like a lot of work does it not? So what do we do, we carry on with the systems –  not for lack of understanding, but for the sheer magnitude of change that this would require.

We often deem the uniqueness as “Deviation from the standard”. In reality,  it is the deviation from the expectation that we have created as a standard. This standard is, of-course, carefully crafted on basis of many measurements and characteristics. There is no denying that there is a lot of thought and science behind these “Exercises of Standardisation”. Standardised exams, Standardised scores, Standardised course which goes right up-to standardised looks and size too (reserving this debate for another time). As a student, the moment we deviate from these pre-existing standards we are deemed mostly, UNFIT. This – becomes our battle ground.

The Battle – Achieve standard grades in a standard education system studying the standard course in a standard manner. This is where we usually witness the death of uniqueness that the students may harbour in their hearts. How can he take pride in the unique, when you deem him “idiotic” or “useless”? We take away the most important aspect of their lives, their individuality, give them what’s left of it (usually not much) and then ask them to cope. It is difficult to cope in this world with all of your strengths intact, how then does a child cope when you have snatched most of the strength to begin with.

What do you think I am suggesting that you do?  When a student does not perform well in the exams, what exactly is my solution? After all he needs to go to college and he will not make it there with 40%.

My Solution – Fit a round peg in a round cavity or more importantly do not fit a square peg in a round cavity. It will not FIT. Remember that educational toy you got for your 1 year old?

Unlike the 1 year old, we are mostly trying to fit a square peg into a round cavity. When it does not, we use the Hammer. Remember the Hammers? Tuition, cutting down TV Time, I-Pads, confiscate phones, more tuition, more study time, more tuition – all act as the hammer.   And yet, mostly these hammers fail to give us the desired result. The Square Pegs still have the Rough  edges and corners that do not fit into the edge-less circle. What a PITY!!

When it does not fit, we initiate the judgements. Bad grades in class: he must be stupid (for lack of a better word).

When a child does not perform well in the exams, lack of intelligence, is not the cause. There are other causes; we need to look for them. Academic Performance is directly linked to – Academic Perseverance, Growth Mindset, Relevance of Education and many more (I will discuss these in my later articles). It is important to understand this and to find the reason for poor Academic Performance. It could be that we are judging on parameters that are irrelevant to that particular student.

We have, slowly begun to understand the importance of non-standard. We understand that education has to be made relevant to the student if you want the students to truly learn. Some even understand that being non – standard is not a deviation, it is just individualism. Some of the finest institutes across the world envisage the requirement and are working to reinstate the NON- STANDARD. But little is being done, at the moment.

The change also has to begin with us. Like all else, we cannot wait for the government, the universities and colleges to bring about the revolution. We too share some of the responsibility. ENCOURAGEMENT is the key to building the individuality. Encourage your friend, your child, your student when they show signs of individuality. Deviation from individuality should be a point of worry, not deviation from standard.

Look around you, it is the deviation from standard that are remembered not the standard. Take pride in IT. We are not statistics that can be measured with mean, medians and averages. Best way to do that is to beat the Average, not give in to it. Rising above the Average should be your goal. It can be done. You only have to apply your Specialisation!

Witnessed a little balloon race by little children the other day. Two kids ran the combination race. Two children – let’s say – Arjun and Bheem. The race was : run to the balloon stationed in the middle of the track. Sit on it to burst it and then run to the other end. Second child repeats it, it was a group effort, I understand, it encourages team effort. Now Arjun ran like lightning, he was so quick to reach the balloon, but he was not that great at bursting the balloon, he was quite sloppy. When it was Bhim’s turn, he was cuddly to say the least and running wasn’t for him. But boy he was quick at bursting the balloon, he gave it one WWF punch and the balloon was completely out. Did they win?

Not really!! Even though Arjun ran the Fastest and Bheem was the quickest. Yeah even then they did not win. Why do you think that was? It was not THEIR RACE to begin with.

Bheem was not the runner, and Arjun was not the burster (I know it’s not a word – but applies). Yet they were put in a race that did not enhance their strengths. I imagine if Arjun ran a flat race he would leave the competitors a mile behind (even in a 100 meters race) and if Bhim were to burst balloons or perhaps had a wrestling match, he would have had no match. They lost a match that wasn’t theirs.

Let us see this objectively, yes there are some advantages to this. The children are learning to run ALL TYPES of races. They are learning the important lesson of teamwork. They are indeed learning that the world will set them against opponents with different abilities and skills. Sure these lessons of life are important and I cannot find fault. After all I too have learnt it the same way. I must have been put up against a competitor; I would have learnt to push myself and win. I apply that every day in my life. I DO!!

Then what am I really complaining about? I am NOT complaining. I am only trying to understand because I fail to understand a few questions? And as we all know – failing is not an option!!

My question:

Why was Bheem not put in a wrestling match and Arjun in a flat race?

Why they were not encouraged for where their strengths lay?

Why not let them gain the confidence with a win rather than face the ridicule with a loss? (Oh yes everyone was laughing when Bheem ran)

Would it not be a valuable lesson to let the children know their strengths before we introduce them to their weaknesses?

Should we teach to identify the weaknesses or should we teach them to apply their strengths?

I do understand that these questions cannot have absolute answers, but yet I am trying to look for SOME answers. How is this related to what I have been saying? It is!

I have, time and again, emphasized on individualism being important. I wish the students are therefore introduced to it at school level. It should not mean that we de-introduce (again not a word) the children from team work or not help them identify their weaknesses, it only means that we FIRST introduce them to their individual strengths and allow them to foster that.

Do the Schools have it wrong? Maybe in a peculiar way!

As an institution in a world that is changing at a blink of an eye, we are still preparing the students by the code of industrial revolution. How many years ago was that, anyways?

So do I have a suggestion?

I do! I am not saying that what the schools are doing is all wrong; I am only saying that there is just a little something more that we can do. Just put the children in THEIR race and see them run!

We are still looking to average out a student while we all know that there is no such thing as an “Average Child”. Like the Norma Study, if we were to make parameters to judge a student and find the closest match to an AVERAGE STUDENT, I am quite certain we will come up with none. So why then, are we so desperate to create an Average Student? Why not rejoice in their individuality and UN-Average (Oxford dictionary says it’s not a word, but should be) characteristics? Let us concentrate on creating an average computer, but let’s concentrate on creating an Individual Student with their strengths and yes, even weaknesses. After which we can venture out and teach them to use their strengths and cope with their weaknesses, but first – IDENTIFY the (UN)Average.

Identifying the (UN) Average requires that we first look at the child in clear light. We must understand and accept that the student may not run like an average runner, may not score Average grades scored by average students, and does not sing like an average singer and….

It means that the (UN) Average sings like a Rockstar but runs like a snail. It means that maybe the UNaverage student debates like a pro but does not understand the chemical formulas. It might mean many more combinations, but not the one we are looking for. So maybe it is time to look differently.

Once we look differently, maybe we can change the TAGS and not put the students in an air tight compartment – of failures. It is a compartment that they cannot break out of for a very very long time. It is time that we celebrate their UNaverage qualities and let them draw strength from them. After all when we lose ourselves to the crooning singer, do we wonder if he can tell us the square root of 156456. DO WE??

The (UN) average can be a good average if you can understand that you are not an average student and do not have an average brain and therefore do not shape your life trying to be AVERAGE. You are not AVERAGE and neither should you inspire to be. When the next test scores tell you that you are like the next average person, Don’t Believe it!!  Fight for the (UN)AVERAGE!!








School Performance is a complex phenomenon, shaped by a wide variety of factors intrinsic to students and in their eternal environment. In addition to content knowledge and academic skills, students must develop sets of behaviours, skills, attitudes and strategies that are crucial to academic performance in their classes, but that may not be reflected in their scores on cognitive tests”  – UCHICAGO CCSR Literature Review

In the simplest way, this tells us that more than just grades (which is the case now days) students need to focus on the sets of behaviours, Skills and attitudes which will eventually and effectively affect their academic performance.

So here is the deal, while you may not be focusing on Skills right now, think of these as a payback when the skills will eventually help you get better grades (it does seem like our one point focus). Skill Sets help you to develop attitudes which affect our academic performances and are not limited by content learning.

Let us see this more objectively or at least make an effort to do so!

We all understand the importance of grades (oh yes we do). We know that the monster of the grades decide the course of lives of our children. Good grades – good University – Good Job – Good life (in the order). We see evidence of this being true all around us and we believe in it as – truth and nothing but the truth, so help us god! But is it really??

Can grades really decide the course of our lives? Sadly it is true for the first part of the path – Good Grades – Good University. Unfortunately most universities judge the student on the GPA, Grades achieved, Standardised Tests etc. (we will debate these another time). Some universities do in-fact try to substantiate the overall development of the student through modes other than just the grades. But unfortunately, despite the effort in understanding the student and establishing the RIGHT FIT (as they claim), the importance given to grades and scores is very high. While consideration is given to other factors, the transition from moving away from grades is not yet complete.

So am I saying that lets forget the skills and focus on the grades since they are so important?

On the contrary, I am saying – Focus on your Skills because the grades are important!!

Developing a Growth mindset that believes that we can train our brain for better performance is attributed to Skill development. A skill set that develops perseverance and discipline which will automatically help us develop these attitudes towards academic performance as well.

 I once saw a potter sitting by the potter’s wheel, spinning the wheel and trying to create something. He would put some clay on the wheel, spin it, mould it and then remove it. He did this over and over again, calmly and patiently. It seemed like the clay was not taking the shape that he intended. But every time he put the clay back on the wheel, he nurtured the clay with the softest touch. Did he make the pot he desired?

If a student, let us assume, is a photographer, dancer or even a painter, he/she will need to have the patience and the perseverance to revisit the same thing again and again till it is not perfected. They also attempt the same task with the softest touch. Do you not see how this patience and the perseverance, that they will develop that accompany these skills, will help them perform better at academics too? The attitude to perfect their art will create a habit to perfect and this will also apply to academic. Would this then not affect their grades?

They will apply these skills to their academics because eventually the attitudes required to master the skill or art will become a part of them. It will become a part of their nature and they will therefore apply them to every task that they will undertake, Academic is just one of them.

So did the potter make the pot he desired? I don’t really know, to me every pot that was being made looked beautiful, but then I don’t know what he wanted and what his idea of perfection was.

As students it is important that you understand the importance of grades and performance but it is equally important that you understand the importance of Attitude, Academic Behaviour , Strategy development, time management, problem solving – both social and academic. Each of these will have a measurable impact on your academic performance. It is therefore imperative that you develop these to have a positive impact and improve your academic performance.

In addition to these critical factors – there is one very important factor that you should consider –

Your attitude about learning and your belief about your intelligence.

What does this really mean? It means that if you do not believe in your own intelligence, then intelligence will not believe in you. It is a lot like friendship between two people. Intelligence is not limited to what books we have read and what we can remember from it. It is not an outcome of the Maths problems that we can solve and how fast. It is by no means a by-product of the chemical formulas that we can remember. It is connected to our attitude towards learning and belief.  We must have an attitude to learn, which means that we have the ability to revisit something and learn it (not memorize it) despite failing, it is then that you will have the right attitude. Believing in intelligence has a huge impact on developing the correct attitude. If you believe yourself to be un-intelligent or incapable, your mind will play the games with you and will render you incapable. If, on the other hand, you believe that you are indeed intelligent and capable, you will see your mind doing wonders. My mind is what I want it to be, I am not what my mind wants me to be!! Believe in this, it is easy when you try!!