Academic Stereotypes: Unfortunately Still Prevailing!

Posted by Priyanka Tamuley
May 18, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

We keep meandering over gender stereotypes, racial stereotypes and what not. But have ever given a thought of academic stereotypes, which, we admit or not, are still prevailing in the society? At the verge of the end of my formal academic life, I would like to state certain stereotypes that I personally faced or was an audience of my acquaintances confronting the similar anecdotes.

One of the biggest life decisions that a student has to face in one’s life is deciding on which stream to choose from after their 10th Boards. What I see around, the obvious decision maker is the already set up strata of marking by the social system, which leads to a student to take a quite easy decision (sic.)

The strata as defined by some ‘guardians of the society’ are:

  • Very high academic marks: obviously the Science Stream!
  • Students with average or low marks-
  1. ‘Good’ marks in maths: Commerce (because commerce is only maths!)
  2. ‘Bad’ marks in maths: Arts/Humanities (only for ‘hopeless’ students)

At that age and stage of life, a student should be guided by his/her teachers and parents on making decisions for the future on the basis of his/her interest. But if these people, too, fall prey to this set up strata, how can you expect a brighter future for that student.

I have always been on the high academic end, and when I chose Commerce over the Science stream, it came as a big shocker to most of the people (some distant relatives/ contacts still have a fade belief that I opted for Science). One interesting instance I recall is that a person did not even bother to ask me my stream, because it was obvious- my dad is an engineer by profession, so I will definitely choose Science to either become an Engineer or Doctor in future.

When I was in high school, one of my seniors who was going to appear for the boards in the coming year told me that he was not allowed to watch television, and the cable connection was cut off on his parents’ orders, because apparently cable can ruin your marks. So the logic is cut off your child from the world, let him mug his notes day and night, and let him score the highest of the marks to claim a high status in the society. Don’t you think a child actually becomes an apt human being only when he/she is allowed to confront untoward situations, develop their own capacity to sieve the good from the bad and utilise it to their full potential? This instance is just making the child partially incapable of handling varied situations and multitasking.

It has been almost 10 years since he passed boards, but still this thought hasn’t changed among some people. Recently, I felt privileged to be a part of a well renowned debate competition, until one of the ‘judges’ spoke, as a part of her speech, something that disgusted me. “STOP watching television! Don’t EVER use social media platforms!” Still this notion?! We can never claim an object as totally GOOD or BAD, everything has their boons and banes. Hearing such a dictator and somewhat narrow statement from a so called ‘judge’ made me pathetic and sad of what kind of a society I am living in.

When I joined the university, one of the very few absurd questions I was asked by one of my fellow classmates while introducing each other was this-“You have scored the highest in the entrance exam; you are so good in academics, how come you know so much about movies?” So again, apparently being a girl with a high academic record, she is not supposed to watch movies, or wear dark lipstick, wear fashionable clothes, have a male friend (dating is a distant scene!), or have interests in extracurricular activities. Same goes in case of boys, one thing I noticed is that, boys who ride bikes are put on the label of being ‘bad’, ‘rowdy’ and definitely bad with academics.

In the final year of my masters’ course, we are supposed to choose between two specializations. The trend that have been prevailing: (I don’t want to sound harsh but that’s the truth) only ‘idiots’ choose the Marketing Specialization, and me choosing this shocked most.

The big question is who has the right and liberty to distinguish ‘idiots’ and ‘high intellects’? What are the criteria of creating these strata? Don’t you think our education and examination system of mugging up and producing in exams, getting marks on the basis of memorisation is one of the major culprits of creating such a social structure filled with academic stereotypes?

I am glad that presently, the perception of some people is changing with the change in times. And hope for a change in these kinds of stereotypes in little instances, because little changes can ultimately sum up to a huge difference.

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