There has never been an argument against the premise which states that the ultimate aim of education is developing a successful human being. However, this would also be the question we need to pose to society. To put it simply, what is success? As we attempt for a definition, the speculations seem quite relative, one could observe unlimited possibilities of becoming a successful person and how every individual describes it can be totally different.
In my view, there isn’t any well-defined or clear as crystal definition to describe what actually success is, thus an attempt to define it is futile. The term success is generally understood as a personal endeavour, as a result, each individual must take time to think and make a definition of success for themselves. How I perceive ‘success’ can be unequivocally different from how someone else does as there are limitless possibilities when it comes to success.
The youngsters in society are often misguided, in such a way that their minds are painted with, having only one view of success which is focused predominantly on the grades they get. In almost all cases we observe, students are not given the chance to individually think what success means to them. Consequently, from the very young age itself, their minds are painted with just one view of success and that is only related to the grades they obtain. It seems that we have conveniently forgotten the meaning of the proverb “Child is the father of man” [William Wordsworth]. Very often, we witness students, who are living someone else’s definition of success and sadly, they never get the chance to ask what they want for themselves. The students need to be given the chance, so that they may realize that success is an individual perspective and to obtain it, they first need to decide what it means to them.
Are grades everything?
Our society has strictly decided that the only indicator to measure success is the grades a student gets during their school years and college years. Most educators and parents are willing to do anything possible to ensure, children bring good scores from their exams. Not just good scores but nothing less than an A star.
Of course, good grades have their advantages. They open doors to good colleges and universities and increase the possibility of scholarships and study loans. These advantages are significant for students who cannot afford their studies on their own. As a result, from a very young age, the meaning of education for them becomes securing the best grades at the cost of their dreams.
Scholars have concluded that merely analyzing the grades cannot define the success of a person. Grades are mere reflections of what or how much the person has learned during their school days, that does not even determine the academic abilities of someone. For example, one can acquire a great deal of knowledge even if they may not perform A star level in the exams. So, yes grades are used by a biased society and other bodies to judge the success of someone, one must never say that is everything.
Developing good character matters more than passing exams
Success in exams and achieving good grades are, of course, important, although not sufficient to become a wholesome individual. The contemporary society prompts every educator to think over and over about what are we really doing to the generations going out of the school system. The level of bullying, mocking and abuse at different levels are sufficient to claim that our purpose of education has failed in the attempt to raise well educated wholesome humans who understand the value of life around them. Today we are at a state where young and old across the land are crying for the nation. A nation which needs to be pulled up from falling apart, before it is too late to do so. For that cause, we need responsible people who are well equipped with good traits of human kind rather than only a set of A stars.
It must be realized that a string of stars is not adequate enough to produce a well-mannered person as our society requires today. It is just part of it. From schools to families all need to put lots of efforts to bring out the wholesome humans with respectable characters, surely more than just grades.
To sum up, I strictly believe that it is high time, education systems prioritized good character-building over achieving high in exams. From what is being done recently, we observe that grades are considered as everything, whereas, very less or nothing is done to build a good character. It is evident that, if a student is guided to become his/her best version through a fine character-building process then surely the grades will follow. No doubt that each and every student will achieve the best of their potential, while also respecting their teachers, their fellow colleagues and wholeheartedly appreciating their surroundings. Teachers will get to concentrate on teaching rather than wasting their energy on correcting students’ behaviour. Engulfed with such an ambience, student invents diversified ways for learning and improving their knowledge rather than being obliged to learn to achieve someone else’s dreams and desires. Ultimately schools will end up producing more reflective personalities who can become the best version of themselves.
About the author: Dr Asiyath Mohamed Didi is the Principal of Hithadhoo School, Maldives. Her major expertise is personal and professional development, teaching and learning and leadership (especially educational leadership).