I might be as young as 14, but I am on the verge of making an important decision for my life. Which stream of subjects I should choose for class XI and XII? The choice that my friends and I will now have to make is crucial, as it is a decision that will determine who we become as adults. Which begs the question, do we, as children have the right mental capacities to make such decisions where the stakes are high?
We go through dramatic changes as adolescents. Besides, when we are forced to make a decision that has the potential to dictate our lives, there is a sense of panic, stress, anxiety. I strongly feel that when we are already trying to cope with hormonal changes and the stress to perform well in school, the idea of making us choose only a specific stream of subjects is equivalent to putting us on a one-way road. Not to mention the amount of pressure some children might face from families and peers!
Even when change is possible later in life, I feel we probably might lose crucial years studying something only to later realise we have no interest in pursuing it. Moreover, many of us might not have the financial means to restart or realise it is too late to go back and end up trapped in jobs that do not suit us during our adulthood.
There is a reason we are not allowed to vote or drive. Many neuroscience pieces of research say that adolescent judgment is influenced by context. A Harvard Mental Health Letter (July 2005) mentions that the human brain circuitry is not mature until the early 20s. All these facts suggest to me that we are not capable to make high stake decisions such as choosing our government or determining our academic future.
Sarah Jayne Blakemore, a professor in cognitive neuroscience, acknowledges that decisions about young children’s future education and career path should be delayed. Now is the crucial time that we bring this issue up for public discussion since the government is looking at revamping the entire education system of the country for a better educational experience.
Through the draft New National Education Policy, the government intends to bring reforms in the education system of the country and promote the holistic development of all the students. I am very happy to know that the government is giving increased flexibility in the choice of subject in the secondary stage of school (classes 9-12). I think it is a huge step forward. I think it is nice that there will be freedom to experiment with many different subjects for one’s choice of study.
However, the demands and expectations from us for admission to colleges and universities are too high. Whether it is clearing NEET or IIT – JEE, or admission into any good college in the country for any subject of our choice, we are required to score almost 100% in respective subjects. This makes our time in the secondary school environment naturally very competitive.
When the new policy is finalised, I think the government should consider giving more time, options and career counseling to help us students make a more informed choice about our academic future and make the necessary changes in the higher education aspects as well.