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ASK YOUR COUNSELLOR- Focus on what you can control - Deccan Herald
ASK YOUR COUNSELLOR- Focus on what you can control
Maullika Sharma,
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Dear Madam,

I am a Class 10 student. I understand all the lessons in school and don't want to study at home. But my parents are worried about the board exams and force me to study regularly. But how much ever I try, I can't focus on studies in the house. My marks are above average and I am not after marks. I want to understand the concepts for which I listen attentively in the classroom. But since my parents have a different viewpoint, I am a bit confused. But I definitely don't want to waste my time reading school books.


Dear Goutham,
You seem to be in an enviable position and there will be many people who would love to not only have your academic strengths, but also your attitude. Your parents are driven by their anxiety for your future, and you can't fault them for that. They are driven by what they see happening around them with other children and other parents. Maybe, it is time for you to sit down with your parents and communicate your thoughts and feelings around this topic. Sometimes, a lot is left unsaid and assumed - your intentions, their intentions, your feelings, their feelings. So sit down and talk (and that includes listening to the others too). Help build their confidence that you know what you are talking about. Give them an insight into your plans and what you would rather do with your time, and how that is better for you in the long run. All the best.

Dear Madam,

Of late, I have seen a trend among high school students to get the answer for a question immediately. Instead of understanding the concept or the process, they are more eager or in a hurry to know the end result. If I give them some time to ponder over a question and reason out the facts, they become restless and don't respond positively. Even when I give clues, they don't think patiently. How can I, as a teacher, act to address the trend, which I feel is not good for students.

A teacher

Dear teacher,
Thank you for reaching out with this very critical question. As a teacher, your role is not to satisfy their needs, but rather to show them the path. It may be important for you to discuss the issue that you are raising in the class with them. Unfortunately, students these days are growing up in an age of instant gratification thanks to the access to information that technology enables, and social media. In some ways, it is possible to say that the role of a teacher as a disseminator of information has significantly gone down (as all information is available online). That then underscores the point that the role of a teacher as a guide and mentor has significantly gone up. Given the changes in the social fabric of society, and family structures changing, teacher's often bridge the gaps for their students.
Keeping that in mind, feel free to build your relationship with students and help them to see the value of the journey, not just the end result. Help them to view life as a marathon, not just a series of 100 metre sprints in quick succession.
More power to teachers like you who stay the course. Your role is not to give the answers but to help them discover the answers and the path. Good luck!

Dear Madam,

I used to love Geography earlier but after I reached high school, I have lost interest. The teacher doesn't teach the subject and instead of explaining the lessons, she talks about recent developments in the country and we get bored. When I discussed this with my mother, she said that the teacher might be doing this to keep us aware of the happenings across the globe. But that doesn't help us with the subject. Please guide me with this.


Dear Kshama,
In this day of access to technology, everyone has instant access to information. You can always go online and get the answer to any 'subject-related' question you may have. As I mentioned in the earlier question, teachers should not just be disseminators of information. Teachers shape minds and hearts and lives. And to that end, what your teacher is doing is very helpful and relevant. It may not be focussed on the subject matter in the book, and may not be oriented towards exams and marks. But an education involves not just learning and knowing facts (which you can also do on your own, without the help of a teacher) but also forming opinions and gaining an understanding of the world.
More power to your teacher. She is giving you something invaluable - the value of which you may realise only many years later. The facts of Geography you may forget later in life, but these things you may not. Meanwhile if you are finding gaps in the content of your subject, by all means spend time to dig for it online. The answers are all there. Learning to find them on your own, is also a part of gaining an education. Learning how to learn is important too. Good luck!

Dear Madam,

I am a Class 9 student and I am interested in studying subjects or learning a new activity only if there is some competition. My parents are not exactly fond of competitions and say that it is more important to learn thoroughly than winning a prize. The problem is I want to win prizes but don't want to practice hard for it. For me, participation is for fun and I manage to get some prize even without proper practice. Again my parents have a different opinion. They feel one has to work hard to participate in a completion and otherwise it is of no use. Please let me know who is right.


Dear Nesar,
These are two different world views and I am going to ask you some introspective questions here. Why are the prizes important? What do they do to how you feel about yourself? Is it that you are wanting the prizes to feel better about yourself, or to show the world that you are really good, in other words to prove yourself to the world. You may win prizes, but you will not win prizes all the time. So if you go only to win the prize, what happens if you don't win the prize? How will that make you feel? Will you be able to deal with that effectively? The only thing you can control is the journey (which is the effort you put in). You cannot control the outcome or end-result (which is the prize). It is a good practice in life to focus on that aspects that you can control.
That decreases the disappointment when something negative that is out of your control happens. It is a folly to think that prizes will always come for everything you do. In your attachment to the prize, are you then only
doing things where you are sure to get the prize and not even stepping out of your comfort zone into new areas, learning new things, where the prize may not be guaranteed.
I think your parents are giving you the right guidance. Focus on the journey. Life is a marathon to be completed successfully, enjoying the path, relishing the experience. It is not a series of 100 metre sprints waiting to be won or lost. Good luck!