The basic purpose of education is to prepare a person to face the various challenges in life. As a child grows, the first challenge he encounters, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is of securing good grades at school.

Of course good grades attract appreciation, but the misconception that only ‘A’ and ‘A+’ grades can make an individual have a successful life is what I am calling the ‘straight-‘A’s syndrome’. This obsession has a myriad of negative connotations. The most damaging one is its crippling effect on a student’s potential to learn in a positive way.

You may catch this student frantically jotting down points during the lecture in class. However, just a few minutes after the class, he may find the notes quite puzzling.

Why? Because the straight-‘A’s syndrome pushes him to make his notes look ‘the best’ which distracted him from gaining the real knowledge the teacher was trying to convey. No wonder after two or three months, he loses the zest for learning.

Obsession for getting ‘A’ and ‘A+’ can make a student restless and also fearful about the expectations from his peers, teachers, parents or siblings. He assumes that if he gets any grade other than A, it would create a dull image.

The worst thing is when the top grades obsession turns a student to engage in his own ‘assumed’ and ‘an undeclared’ race or war with his classmates in studies, thus causing isolation and withdrawal from potential friends. Moreover, the greed for top grades creates imbalance between study and play. The student sees sports as an absolute time-waster. While others keep enjoying themselves in the playground, he struggles to skim through the pages of a textbook — all in the name of top grades.

The student who does not take interest in recreational activities is too prone to losing interest in studies as well. To add fuel to fire, he becomes a nerd. As goes the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

The bigger picture

Success means much more than getting straight-‘A’ or ‘A+’. For instance do you know the man who dropped out of Harvard University to work full-time on computer software development? His firm became a software giant and led him to become the wealthiest man in the world consistently from year 1995 to 2007. He is Bill Gates, who gave up a Harvard degree and co-founded Microsoft in 1975.

He proved that the thirst and love of knowledge are far more rewarding than an educational qualification!

Some of you might feel that it is impertinent to quote Bill Gates here because he is a born genius and everyone is not as gifted as Gates is. For all those readers, let me tell you about the life of a child who had limited elementary education but loved books; no straight ‘A’s but had a passion for finding out what is what. This made him a wonderful man, he was the 16th president of the US and one who would always be remembered for defining democracy — Abraham Lincoln.

So if you are one of those kids who are too obsessed with getting an A grade, let me tell you that aspiring for good grades is a positive thing but being so obsessed with it that you forget about your life is something you should always avoid. Following are some of suggestions that may give you a hint about how to avoid this obsession.

Think out-of-the-box

The most effective way of averting the obsession is not to think about studies when you are actually not studying. Enjoy every moment to the fullest and don’t let the worry of becoming the best in your class haunt you round the clock.

Make your study schedule

Set a proper time for studies. Let’s say two or three hours daily. And after you finish studying, relax and socialise. Talk to your friends and enjoy your family gossips. You will gradually notice the calm and peaceful personality in you.

Clinch time for leisure

Take hobbies alongside study. Explore and build on your talents. Perhaps, stamp collection or playing sports could give you a sense of self-actualisation you never had attained by securing good grades.

Be a tortoise, not hare

It is far better to act like a tortoise who reaches his destination than a hare who gives up by overrating his capabilities. If your performance equals your competence, that will be your real success.

Enjoy learning process

Students who get straight-‘A’s or ‘A+’ in every exam, they deserve applause! However, don’t feel labelled in a wrong way if a B or C grade appears in your annual progress report. Remember grades do not define who you are, what your true potential is and how rich and content you would be in life. So keep your hopes alive and enjoy learning new things every day.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 19th, 2016