It happens more than sometimes that a student who has consistently shown in studies does less well later on in life than a student who has always been academically mediocre. The reason is not, necessarily, that the former has not lived up to expectations, or that the latter has all the connections that count. Often it is just a case of the mediocre rising to excellence because he has had the good luck of finding himself.
Albert Einstein, Leo Tolstoy and Rabindranath Tagore were not considered particularly bright prospects in school, but nevertheless took the world by storm.
Obviously, academics is only one yardstick of a student’s ability. At the school level, it is presently the most important yardstick and will probably continue to be so in the foreseeable future. It is generally agreed that an educated person is required to have grounding in certain specified areas of knowledge that may be termed as ‘basic subjects’.
Over and above that, though, a good school will offer a wide variety of supplementary or co-curricular activities involving games, music, art, literature, photography, the computer, and what have you. The more varied and better organised these activities are, the greater are the chances of a student succeeding in discovering himself. What does that mean?
It means finding out what one likes doing, what one is good at and what one would like to develop one’s skills in.
It is not impossible for this to turn out to be a fairly long drawn-out trial-and-error process. A student may begin by trying his hand at painting and find himself lacking; he may then move on to debating and discover he is worse at it; he may then have a shot at acting, but in vain; finally, he may find his metier in creative writing.
He starts writing stories and poems and getting appreciation for and feedback on them. It makes him a happier, more motivated, and more energetic person. He may have been an indifferent student, but now, because his self-esteem has risen and he is more confident of himself, he attains a higher rank in class as well.
It is not necessary that he should go on to become a famous writer. The very fact that he has confidence in himself now will make a world of difference to how he goes about life and what he does with it. It is up to him to seek out suitable avenues for the expression of his creativity, but once that is done, that initial act of self-discovery in school will prove to be one of the most positive turning-points in his life.
What today is called ‘co-curricular’ was yesterday known as ‘extra-curricular’. The change in wording is significant and reveals recognition of the worth of non-academic pursuits in education. That one does not need to sit in ‘examinations’ in most co-curricular activities is a factor that makes them more enjoyable than classroom study; however, that may also be the very reason why a section of students don’t take them seriously enough.
More and more colleges and organisations have begun to look beyond the school-leaving and graduation and post-graduation certificates while deciding whom to take in and whom to leave out during admission or employment, and a good co-curricular track record may well give one an edge over a rival candidate who has no such background. This development, also, should further the worthy cause of co-curricular activities.