NEW DELHI is a magical place early in the morning before the rush of traffic and the hurly-burly of the workday begins. Central Delhi is a world within a world, with green, broad roads and avenues of stately trees. However, one cannot stop to admire the flora when one has an appointment with the Secretary (Education) at Shastri Bhavan at 9 am. Having travelled from the hills — a seven-hour road journey of nearly 300 km — one could not be late. It was quite a daunting prospect, even though there was no agenda for the meeting. After the exchange of pleasantries, the kind and amiable Secretary softly asked: ‘So, how are the school results?’
‘Oh, they are going up, Sir… In fact, we had quite a number of centums,’ I said. One is always worried in the presence of such a person — the reply to the question asked may not be correct somehow. However, how could one go wrong with a result that was par excellence?
He did not respond immediately; instead, he took a deep breath and, with Zen-like composure, gently responded: ‘100 per cent. I am concerned, worried even.’ The expression remained kind and his voice soft and reasonable: ‘And what will be next… perfection?’
And then the penny dropped. With no scope for improvement, can learning be possible? What is to be done when perfection is achieved? What is the implication of a student’s result being a perfect 100 per cent? Is it that no further learning is required? Or that since one has reached a perfect state of knowledge, no more growth, improvement and hence no further learning is possible?
And, on the other side of this seemingly bright and shiny coin, we have an area of darkness: the news of students taking their lives as they have failed to live up to the expectations of their teachers or parents.
So, what is the takeaway here? It is OK not to be OK. It’s OK to fail. As long as one learns from one’s failures. As long as one is resilient. And as long as one’s adversity quotient is high.
Kurt Hahn, the founder of Gordonstoun School, was a big believer in the power of failure. He thought children needed to experience failure so that they would learn how to persevere when the going got tough.
Resilience is the lesson that must be learnt in every classroom of every school. The lesson that every educator needs to ensure that all learners understand is — even if you fail, try, try and try again! When life is difficult and nothing seems to be working out, be resilient. This too shall pass!
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