Board exam season is here and needless to say, thousands of students and their parents across India have their ‘stress mode’ on.
In recent years, where academic scores have been mistakenly termed as a judge of a students’ ability in other spheres of life, students are crumbling under the twin pressures of exams and parental oversight.
While as parents there seems to be no harm in wanting your child to perform well in the state level exams, there have been increasing reports of students suffering mental breakdowns and health issues due to this exam stress.
At a time like this, an inspirational and rather moving letter by Kolkata’s Heritage School addressing parents of the students appearing for their exams is like a breath of fresh air.
The content of this letter posted on the Kolkata school’s Facebook page is inspired and adapted for Indian students and parents from a principal’s letter to parents that emerged on Reddit over three months ago. You can find the original letter here.
This letter by the Kolkata school encourages parents to support their children and not pressure them to conform to the societal norms of success or let grades define them.
Here’s the letter:
The exams of children are to start soon. I know you’ll are really anxious for your child to do well but please do remember, amongst the students who will give the exams is an artist who doesn’t need to understand Math.
There’s an entrepreneur who doesn’t care about History or English literature. There’s a musician whose Chemistry marks won’t matter. There’s a sportsperson whose physical fitness is more important than Physics.
If your child does get top marks then great. But if he or she doesn’t then don’t take away their self-confidence from them. Tell them it’s ok, it’s just an exam. They are cut out for much bigger things in life. Tell them, no matter what they score you love them and will not judge them.
Please do this and if you do, watch your children conquer the world. One exam or a 90 percent won’t take away their dreams and talent.”
The original letter by the principal also has a beautiful line that says “Please do this, and when you do, watch your children conquer the world. One exam or a low mark won’t take away their dreams and talent. And please, do not think that doctors and engineers are the only happy people in the world.”
One of the other most well-known letters from a teacher to her students that has become a model for teachers globally to address exam pressures was written as early as 1999.
Written by a teacher Mary Ginley, the letter was adapted by Buckton Vale Primary School in England. The letter reads:
Dear Year 6 pupils,
Next week you will sit your SATs tests for maths, reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation. We know how hard you have worked, but there is something very important you must know:
The SATs test does not assess all of what makes each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way that we do and certainly not in the way your families do.
They do not know that some of you speak two languages or that you love to sing or draw. They have not seen your natural talent for dancing or playing a musical instrument. They do not know that your friends can count on you to be there for them; that your laughter can brighten the darkest day or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They do not know that you participate in sports, wonder about the future, or sometimes help your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you are kind, trustworthy and thoughtful and that every day you try to be your very best.
The levels you will get from this test will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart. You are smart! So while you are preparing for the test and in the midst of it all, remember that there is no way to “test” all of the amazing and awesome things that make you, YOU!
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” — Aristotle
Sleep, Rest, Believe!
Another example of teachers around the globe helping students tackle exam pressure is this beautiful letter that was sent by teachers at Holy Trinity Primary School in Lancashire, North West England to their students.
Apart from helping students emphasise on their other qualities and talents, a few teachers even used innovative methods to help them maintain the work-play balance.
Here’s another quirky letter by a primary school teacher, Mrs Thom of Bucklebury, preparing her class for their SATs. She assigned them a list of compulsory ‘homework’ tasks.
These beautiful letters by teachers have been immensely helpful for not just students but also their anxious parents. We hope this collection of letters helps our students relieve some stress and always remember, “An exam is only an exam. It does not define you or your fate.”
All the very best.