At Delhi’s’ Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (SPV), a class III student was one day found gathering worms from its garden. When the Principal asked why he was skipping class, he quickly replied, “I love watching worms.” The boy was asked to go back and seek his teacher’s permission. The class teacher allowed him to explore the garden, provided he will write a 4-page report on what he observed. To everyone’s surprise, he brought out a story book with minute details on the school’s environment. Now in class 6, the boy is confident of studying Humanities in future, which just goes on to show how schools can unearth the latent talent of students. “The idea of the school is to turn the student’s dream into reality,” says SPV’s Principal, Dr. Anuradha Joshi, zeroing on right stream selection. “The world is a stage for my kids, they are naturally conditioned to find the best match,” she added.
Selecting a branch
By the time one finishes class 10, most students are not sure whether to pick Humanities, Science or Commerce. Some schools set a workable plan for children. A lot of factors like career expectation, abilities and limitations are taken into consideration for this. For instance, at SPV, students in a particular class will be asked to identify the strength of their friend. If a child says his friend is good in drawing, a potential idea emerges to develop his skill in drawing. The same applies to skills in writing, dancing, number crunching or scientific experimenting.
Social pressure Vs inner calling
Children often juggle with the opinion of teachers, parents and peers to find a stream that suits their intellectual capabilities. A lot depends on performance in Board exam as well. After scoring good marks in 10th Board, the natural expectation of Antara Adhikari’s parents was to pick up Science, but her heart said ‘No’. “One of the toughest decisions was to select Humanities. “There is so much bias for the subject that it is meant for weaker students as a last resort,” says Antara, a class XII Humanities student at Airforce Bal Bharati School. So after scoring good marks, what really matters is ‘interest’ and ‘passion.’ Don’t fall prey to peer pressure while deciding your stream.
School principals, teachers and students express concern on parental interference in selecting a branch. “When students perform poorly, we counsel both parents and students. We have been able to successfully switch streams according to their capacities,” shares J C Borah, Vice Principal, Faculty Higher Secondary School, Guwahati.
Many parents now explore new options for their children. “We left the choice to our daughter. We don’t interfer but follow healthy family discussions and mutual agreement. She chose her subjects based on her strengths and what she liked,” says Reva Ahuja, a parent of class 11 student from Hillspring International School, Mumbai. “Options are freely open as I have chosen my subjects of interest like Math, Economics, Chemistry, Biology, English and Hindi,” says Reva’s daughter Vrinda.
Vrinda Ahuja Class 11, Hillspring International School, Mumbai
I still have good time to explore varied subjects, I intend to join a university that offers liberal studies.
How do schools support?
Different levels of counselling enable students to select a stream of their choice. Speakers from various professional domains are invited to address the students to give them an in depth view on particular branches and different avenues. “Based on assessing individual strengths, aptitude and performance, individual counselling is given to the students and parents to make them aware about careers related to particular branch selection,” shares School Counsellor, Ritu Taneja from Airforce Bal Bharati School.
Bhavan’s Varuna Vidyalaya, Thrikakkara (Cochin) offers scholarships and conducts Olympiads and other competitive exams along with career guidance classes to help students take the right decision. “Psychometric tests are definitely useful for self-understanding and to identify the student’s aptitude. However, I personally feel that at school level the choice can be made without it too,” feels Usha K, Principal. Career counsellors meet students in groups from Class 9 onwards at SPV. “We ask students to create self-reporting inventories that helps us to analyze their interest scales,” says Ruchi Kapoor, Career Counsellor at SPV.
Ruchi Kapoor Career Counsellor Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi
Two periods of a week are devoted to career advice sessions. We ask students to create self-reporting inventories that helps us to analyse their interest scales.
Amity schools follow aptitude testing for each and every child of class 10, followed by an in depth individual counselling session with both parents and the child. The psychometric tests include personality profiles, reasoning tests, motivation questionnaire, and ability assessments. These tests provide objective data for otherwise subjective measurements. “The test helps the child understand his potential and skills better but also guides him in attaining a match between their interests, skills and abilities,” informs Pooja Chadda, Senior Counsellor at Amity International School, Noida. “I was steered in the right direction through aptitude test and face-to-face counselling. I don’t regret my choice as taking Humanities was the best decision,” says Raksha Gopal of Class 12, Amity International School Noida.
Beyond common streams
Undoubtedly, teachers are the best judges to assess the aptitude of their students. For instance, Vivek Kumar of Tula’s International School, Dehradun, who was guided by his Maths teacher to take up Commerce is quite happy with his decision. To sum up, follow your heart and select a stream that will cater to your interests. Never opt for a stream just because your friend chose it. After all, what you decide now will decide what you do with the rest of your life.
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