As teachers take stock of your performance this academic year, you can get down to future planning
Dr Shradha Kaul
As the evaluation process fast approaches, we always sit back to review our performance in the year gone by. Incidentally, this practice, you'll be glad to know, applicable at all levels, is easily a life-long process. In school, you have the final examinations and as you go higher in life, say at the corporate level, you will be faced with a yearly assessment in some form or the other. So, at the end of the day, one has to learn to live with this routine. A good idea is to go over whatever you've done the whole year and pen down your strengths and weaknesses. Specify your strengths and mark your weaknesses for remedial action. This process should begin sometime as early as December of the preceding year or as soon as the syllabus is over. This gives you a sound idea of how much hard work you need to put in to reach your goal. I am presuming that you have set a target / goal for yourself. This exercise will help you to smoothly go over the subject and also give you plenty of time to pack in those extras that make the difference.
Every student has his/ her approach to solving a question; a winner does the same thing in a different way. As a school student I used to dream about a perfect essay, a perfect answer and would think of different ways of approaching the answers. Wherever we have long subjective answer types this element proves to be particularly helpful. I was particularly fond of following the copybook style of an introduction, a body and a conclusion. It somehow made everything progress logically and reach its completion. The splendour lay in the filling. Since I had been an avid reader I would always begin my answer with something out of a related piece of literature I had read and remembered in the context. This opener would add force to my opening and also unlock those thoughts in my mind and go on to what I wanted to state next in the context of the topic. From this impressive beginning I would go on to elucidate what was given in the textbook. It was as if one had transformed the-would-have- been mundane answer to something exceptional. I can still feel the thrill of doing this. It was almost a challenge to remember something relevant at that decisive juncture. Even while pursuing my higher studies I used this style and it never failed me.
One could be really creative while attempting the essay. I feel the key to being different is to follow your heart while writing. I followed the copybook style as far as the format went but never in the case of the content. The content was where I followed my thoughts while keeping sight of the topic of the essay of course. One should try and not to read up ready-made essays found in books. Read, if you want to, essays by great authors. This is not the level expected out of you at this juncture but it will help in opening up your mind to ideas and thoughts of great people on various subjects.
Writing skills matter in almost all humanities-based subjects. For that matter even scientific topics, if not written and explained properly, will lose their meaning. If you go through international science journals you will realise that even though the brilliance of the article lay naturally in the topic of research, it was the language that enhanced its value. Why have Indian researchers / scientists lagged behind in the international arena? It was the power of the written word, which was behind this lapse. Indian scientific theories have been copied and integrated by whosoever could lay their hands on our ancient scriptures. One cannot condemn Indians for not staking their claim to fame but the people who benefited were the ones who could express the same across an expanse of people rapidly and more importantly in a language that could be understood easily by all. It really hurts when one reads about India being the pioneers in mathematics and so many other subjects, in fact, the Indian contribution to the development of the world is immense but somehow it got diluted because someone else got there first with our possessions.
A lot of students feel that they don't need to read books related to literature because they want to pursue science or feel that it will be of no use to them in their future pursuits. But when they want to enter the arena of competition they feel the pinch and have to start this exercise (of reading) all over again! And at this stage it seems to be an almost uphill task because inculcating this habit takes time and you lose precious time on concentrating on something else rather than your core
—The author is an academic & writes on varied issues