The format was correct. The Content is dead.

Content is the king.

We hear this everywhere, from every author’s Q/A, to the reason of a successful blog post. As a blogger, when I write a post, I have to give the most importance to the content, in order to attract viewers and followers. But, unfortunately, not so is the case when it comes to CBSE’s curriculum for English Core.

Amidst all the subjects we study, English exam is one where we (should) get a chance to explore our creativity in several forms, showcase our writing skills, and just have fun while giving the exam. Thanks to my English teacher, Ms. Gunjan, I had absolute fun answering the questions for the past 2 years, but as I sat to prepare for my board, and get tips about writing the answers, I understand how it’s exactly what you don’t want an English exam to be.

I have finished preparing for tomorrow, so, I’ll talk about few issues I find about how English answer sheets are checked.

Limit Word Displays Boundary Maximum And Restrictions

First thing that annoys me is the word limit. Your answer must not exceed the amount of words the question asks you to write, even if you have a lot more to say, along with time left. Word Limit is an important scale for fair marking, I agree, but can’t a lower word limit solve the purpose? I don’t like to cut short my article to 200 words, when I can easily write a much longer article without compromising on quality. Like, this article I wrote has 905 words, and is well edited. It’s one of my personal favorites of what I’ve written. Having no word limit enabled me to share my views and organize the thoughts in a much better way. Word limit often results in a good beginning, but an unsatisfactory ending. To give a decent conclusion, one ends up losing on content one wants to express.

Here’s a fun letter I wrote in one of my classes. And, guess what? It’s 100 words overboard. Any Potterhead would tell you that it’s just not enough to write everything, about a minor plot of a fictional world. How’re we to stick to 150 words while talking about a real life issue to the Editor of some leading newspaper?

screenshot-478
The guidelines in the format of letter.

This brings me to how the bigger concern than what to write is being loyal to the formats. Infact, formats are so monitored that, yours truly is the new trending way you’ve to use to sign off in a letter instead of yours faithfully. I agree there are basic structure we need to have for letters, ads, notices, etc, but the marking scheme goes overly concerned about how accurate it is, even more than the content! As if there is some global hard and fast rule – even for informal letters and invitations – that there must not be a comma at the end of a line while writing an Address.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Now, let’s talk about Literature for a minute. Being honest, each of the stories or poems in the course of Grade 12 carry a beautiful message, or at least something that gives you stuff to ponder upon and have a classroom discussion on. An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum by Stephen Spender and Lost Spring by Anees Jung talk about poverty, while Going Places by AR Barton is about a girl having schizophrenia. The Rattrap by Selma Lagerlof & The Enemy by Pearl S Buck talk about humanity while Memories of Childhood by Zitkala-Sa and Bama explores discrimination. Should Wizard Hit Mommy by John Updike presents a tale about a conflict of opinions between a child and her father. We learn get to know different tales related to fear and/or overcoming it in Deep Water by William Douglas, Indigo by Louis Fischer & Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers by Adrienne Rich, while also talking about Indian history and men’s dominance in the society. The Last Lesson by Alphonse Daudet touches hearts while The Tiger King by Kalki makes us laugh.

As I said, the themes are really fun and invoke great classroom discussions. But, the problem arises when we’re told to write answers in a certain way. We’re to omit certain details just because they aren’t mentioned directly in the story, like Sophia having schizophrenia. We’re to stick to certain points and describe them in the simplest possible language like we would answer a Political Science question, without developing on it further. Despite having great themes, we’re not given the freedom to explore them and interpret them in the way we want to.

Take ‘Should Wizard Hit Mommy’ for example. The story tells us how parents are more experienced, thus are correct. But, personally, I find Jo’s version of the ending much more correct than her dad’s. And, I have very valid interpretation to support it, but alas, it won’t work in Boards. I have to write exactly what there will be on the marking scheme. And, this is just one example.

Of course, there’s no issue in writing what they want us to write, especially since we get marks for it. But, English as a subject has a great potential to help the student think out of the box, and it is wasted by how the course is designed. The questions asked are straight forward, and do not encourage the student to think before writing, even in the writing section.

I hope someday some change is brought in our education system. Meanwhile, I wish you all the luck for tomorrow’s English exam, and all the other upcoming boards in this month! To my other readers in 10th, college or other grades of school, all the best for your respective exams! Do your best.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Awesome!
    You made me remember my times. I agree with you, that every lesson was great and has something to learn. The word limit actually limits your creativity.
    But still I always liked to study this subject. And the novel ‘An invisible man’ was awesome and made me think how someone can think and write so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aarnav Gupta says:

      Personally, I didn’t enjoy Invisible Man that much. It was too over the top for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok. But I liked the context and its relevance to real world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a waste of time!
    It would have been a greater pleasure if you could ponder how your indispensable ‘brain'(junk) has still more and wider manifestations to be centred upon.
    Mabuhay!

    Like

    1. Aarnav Gupta says:

      Hi. I’m sorry you found this article a waste of time. But, I’m not a professional blogger, and have limited time to dedicate to my blog, especially when I have my boards going on. What I post is how much I want to share. I talked about how I feel the way our language skills are being tested isn’t good enough. Yes, I didn’t go into how it should be tested instead, and that is a decision I made.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Arnav,
    This comes from a person who has a ‘thinking head’. So beautifully analysed !
    and I stand by you when you say that change is needed.
    We wait for thinkers like you to initiate though the process has begun.
    A word about word limit- though the writer in you writhes to write more , the word limit draws the LOC and forces us to choose and prioritise.
    Brevity is the soul of expression – said Shakespeare, we need to learn to pack our thoughts into a limited word and hence time limit. Otherwise we will get carried away in the tsunami of thoughts.

    My compliments for a very thought provoking article!

    I wish NCERT had a ‘Student’s views’ column and this could be posted there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aarnav Gupta says:

      Thankyou mam! The way you’ve described the word limit, that does make sense, I agree. I had a really good exam today, and I did stick to the word limit without, as you said, being carried away in the tsunami of thoughts.

      Like

  4. Hey! I’m in 10th too! I have IT paper tomorrow.
    Best wishes for your exams!
    How is your preparation going?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aarnav Gupta says:

      My preparation is going just fine, thankyou! Meanwhile, all the best for your Boards!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. How do you study sst? It isn’t my cup of tea!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Aarnav Gupta says:

          Well, I had a lot of trouble with it back in 10th. My friends helped me with it, and I returned them the favor by teaching them Maths and Physics.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Haha. Nice. Even my science and maths is good . It’s just that sst is eating my head.
            Anyways, all the very best again! It was so nice to know you!

            Liked by 3 people

        2. Aarnav Gupta says:

          Presently, I’m very happy having science, and being far away from SST.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I shall be saying the same very soon!

            Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s