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Moderation policy: ‘Write an exasperating farrago of distortions and you’ll still get a 95’

Meet HT’s Campus Journalists, batch of 2017, as they talk about life beyond marks, moderation policy and more

education Updated: Jul 11, 2017 17:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Campus Journalists,CBSE,CJ
Meet HT’s Campus Journalists (CJ), Batch of 2017, as they gather for their first debate at Hindustan Times House in New Delhi. From left, Shivam Jha from Delhi Technological University, earlier Ramjas School; behind him is Sehba Mohit from Summer Fields School, Vrinda Saxena from Holy Child Auxilium School, Malvika Singh from Convent of Jesus and Mary; Sabika Syed from Summer Fields School; CJ mentor Deep Samlok, BA English (Hons) first year, Lady Shri Ram College for Women; Ramsha Khan from Jamia Senior Secondary School; Sagar Dawar from St Columba’s; Remya Nair and Khuisangmi ‘Khuimi’ Konghay from Holy Child Auxilium School(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

When he got his Class 12 CBSE Board results last year, Shivam Jha, now studying mechanical engineering at Delhi Technological University (formerly DCE), discovered he had scored 95 in just about “everything.” Much to his “unsurprise,” as Jha puts it, “I had 95 in everything. My best of five was 95. I got 95 in English, 95 in math.” What bothered him, however, was that in physics he felt he did not deserve a 95 but “a 90 or 92.” In computer science, despite a “flawless paper” for which he expected a 100, Jha got a 95. “So, to conclude, you can write an exasperating farrago of distortions and you’ll still get a 95,” he laughs

The moderation policy (a practice by school boards in which students are given extra marks in subjects or papers regarded as ‘unusually difficult’, or when there have been differences in the sets of question papers); students’ fascination with big scores, pursuing passions: All were subjects of a lively discussion between nine HT Campus Journalists, batch of 2017, who met up for the first time this week at Hindustan Times House in New Delhi. All of them are Class 12 students, based in Delhi, some eagerly waiting for their CBSE Board exam results – with the exception of Jha, who wants to leave engineering and do an English Honours course from Delhi University. Their names? Sabika Syed and Sehba Mohit from Summer Fields School; Malvika Singh from Convent of Jesus and Mary; Khuisangmi ‘Khuimi’ Konghay, Vrinda Saxena and Remya Nair from Holy Child Auxilium School; Ramsha Khan from Jamia Senior Secondary School, and Sagar Dawar from St Columba’s. Jha did his schooling from Ramjas.

They also have Deep Samlok, a first- year BA English (Hons) student from Lady Shri Ram College for Women as a guide and mentor, someone closer to their age who is helping them make the transition from school to college.

Jha advises students worried about result delays and college admissions to take life easy, not fret too much about marks and take leisurely decisions on the career paths they want to follow. “Lots of people like me, even in the first year of college, are still confused about life. Suggest it’s never too late, if you want to change the course of life, the time is now,” is his advice.

Development of personality is critical for Syed. And students should do just that. “I’m not saying marks are irrelevant,” but knowing what you want to be is equally important. “I want to be a journalist, so I am working on being a good communicator and orator. To be a dancer you have to join dancing classes, not a DU college.” A college degree can get one a good job, “but do something at the same time which makes you feel alive,” she says.

Singh says humanities students are under pressure because they have a point to prove . “There is a lot of pressure to perform when you are the only one in the family who has not studied science but humanities – which people often refer to as drawing and painting,” she says. The important thing is to focus on what you are doing and do a good job, she adds.

For Saxena, the coolest thing is being okay with oneself. “It’s okay if I am lazy and lost, okay if I read Jhumpa Lahiri when everyone’s reading Chetan Bhagat. Let’s not get tagged, just be numbers - a 95 or a 94.” Focus on your unique traits, don’t follow the crowd, is her advice to her peers.

Interestingly, unlike many teenagers who are forced to take up subjects against their will by their parents, Mohit had to force hers to let her take up science. This is the time when students should focus on campuses they want to join. “I took up science because I wanted to do engineering and the irony is that my parents didn’t want me to. I had to ask them to please let me join a coaching centre, and my father said ‘don’t change your mind later because I am not getting you into another coaching centre’.” Now, all that Mohit wants to do is economics honours and the “biggest questions on my mind are whether my college will have a basketball court or a shooting arena.” It’s okay to change your mind, she advises her peers.

Konghay at the moment is dealing with a lot of angst. It’s marks, marks and marks all the time. “People, not just parents, are so focused on (my) marks that I complain to my mother that people will resurrect from the dead and ask me about my results.” Students should not just focus on scores but become “strong advocates of holistic education. Education is not about your books, because we’ve had 14 years of that. Look outside, your personality, things you have in you. I studied science, but now I want to do journalism.” So if people have a goal, want to do writing or journalism, “my advice is: go ahead,” says Konghay

In elementary school, says Nair, everyone wants to be the best “so we spend the best part of those years trying to outshine everyone else and that is the worst decision ever – because education has everything to do with learning and enjoying what you are doing.” About her own dilemmas, Nair says she has so many varied interests that she ends up getting quite confused. “I took up science because I wanted to do engineering, but then I realised I hate physics. I like math, history, engineering, psychology and when my parents asked me what I wanted to do I didn’t know how to respond because how do I say I like history, chemistry, math and psychology? It just does not add up.” For students with similar issues, her advice is, “hold on to one of your passions, but don’t leave the rest. Brush up your knowledge about the rest of the other things.”It is also very important, she says, that young people take care of themselves, “because in the end you are worth a lot.”

Dawar feels the transition from school to college is a little “scary” but students have to compromise when it comes to passions and choose the better option. Though he loves English, he says he has come to terms with the fact that he has to focus on medicine because he has his heart set on being a doctor.

Khan, who is also keen on a journalism career, says she learnt something interesting last year as a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Programme student. Scholarships funded by the US Department of State enable secondary school students (age 15-17) from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in the US. “Over there, I met many students and noticed that they participate in many activities and vocational subjects. By the time they complete studies they get so much exposure that they know what they do.” This has taught her that any high school student – whether taking a gap year or not, or waiting for results – should take part in as many activities as he or she can to truly discover himself or herself. And don’t worry about results – marks will cease to matter once you get admission to any college,” she advises.

First Published: May 26, 2017 11:23 IST