My results are due in less than 48 hours and I could not be more terrified. But if you started reading this post thinking that this was going to be some kind of education-system-hate-post with a side of ICSE slamming then I have to apologize since that is not what this is going to be.
Boards – the “monster” that has dominated my batch’s academic life entirely for the past two years of our school life is now over. They teach us to fear it until that fear turns into hate. They then teach us to hate it till that hate changes to desperation and then they sit back and hope that this desperation will carry us through the last legs of our journey. But even though ICSE made sure that we were exhausted, stressed out and completely sleep deprived, it taught us a couple of invaluable lessons that in my mind only an ICSE student can properly appreciate.
- The Art of Elaboration : Give an ICSE student one sentence and by the end of the day you’ll have an entire essay on that topic with that same sentence creatively and a little desperately written in every different way imaginable. Can you really look me in the eye and tell me that this is not something that you’ll be grateful for, for the rest of your life?
2. How to Bullshit 101: Making up stuff is the number one weapon in almost every student’s arsenal and ICSE literally helps you enhance that. I speak for all of us when I say that ICSE students live on making up stuff. I’m not kidding when I say that my friends and I have made up the wildest things in tests, presentations, exams – EVERYTHING. Confidence+Fancy words used correctly + an emotional undertone = success! It has taught me to write tests without studying a word. And jokes aside, this education system teaches you to think on your feet and make quick decisions when the need arises.
3. Just go with it : There was a time in maybe the 6th standard to 8th standard time frame when we actually had this thing called “portion”. Arguing with the teacher for extra marks when something in the exam came from outside the textbook was a legitimate practice. Then came 9th and 10th and it was the teachers’ turn to laugh in our faces because ha ha ha there is nothing called a “portion” anymore. Anything broadly within the syllabus was fair game, whether it’s in the textbook or not and for a while I was confused – Where did all the structure go? But the Board teaches you to just go with it, to adapt and be flexible because everything is temporary and there is nothing that you can really do about that. So instead of going to war with the system you learn to embrace it and adapt to it.
4. Details : Even if you can’t feel it, ICSE has influenced your daily lives in subtle but powerful ways. The reason you can do mental maths or remember the first 20 elements of the periodic table is this Board. I don’t know if it was ICSE or simply my school, but there are somethings that are just so deeply ingrained in me now that this will be with me till the day I no longer exist. Commas are your worst enemy and your best friend. Your fate rests on keywords. Definitions always to be learnt verbatim. Never begin a sentence with ‘because’. Two-finger space to be left before every paragraph in an essay. ‘Nice’ is not a nice word. We all got an education, but what did we learn? That is the question.
5. Psychotic Breakdowns: 99% of ICSE students admit to breaking down before, after or during the exams. The other 1% lie. If you have a meltdown once in a while, you have absolutely no clue how to deal with them but I can safely say that because of the past year, I’m pretty good at handling meltdowns. Simply because they happen so often that it’s not even a big deal anymore. Every five hours one person would have an existential crisis and text on group chat ‘I’m having a meltdown’ and all of us literally reply with a ‘lol’, ‘cool’ or in extreme cases even ‘good for you’. Bottom line? You.Learn.To.Deal.
6. We’re all in this together: Yes, I’m referencing a High School Musical song because I’m just that cool. Moving on. Majority of the year, group chats are usually silent with an occasional message or two but then it’s exam time and suddenly my phone is having a seizure with the amount of texts that flood into my Whatsapp. I can’t even emphasize how sadistically great it feels when you know that you are not the only one struggling with things. 3 am in the morning and people are texting tumblr-y pics of their textbooks with artistically highlighted lines or random memes that are so bad but they make you laugh because duh, it’s 3 am. Exam the next day and all one person has to do is ask a doubt. One minute we are talking about how many chromosomes are present in a duplicating cell and before you know it everyone is getting worked up over how Matthew Perry can’t make it to the F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion. Topics change that fast. After a point you can’t really figure out what classifies as studying and what doesn’t. I just spent an hour arguing about whether Antonio and Bassanio are gay or they are just really bromantic…that has to count as studying Shakespeare, right? And the amount of inside jokes, chemistry puns etc are uncountable. The solidarity between the students is insane and really really beautiful. I love that.
So there you go…this is what I think of the ICSE system. And I feel slightly sad for the next generation or the future batches who won’t get to read Merchant of Venice and make fun of the characters. They won’t be reading the pretentious English short stories that we read which never really seemed to have a real point. They won’t smile every time they open a Hindi Lit chapter that begins with the lie “This story is very small” and continues on for eight more pages. They won’t open the same history textbooks and admire the sharp AF jawlines of our world leaders or make crazy civics jokes. I have a lifetime of memories buried and hidden between the pages of these dozen textbooks and I’m not sure if I’m ready to give that up yet. In a strange way, every word or every chapter has contributed to who I am as a person and I have the system to thank for that. And in an equally strange way, we students bonded over late nights, meltdowns, sleep deprivation and back-to-back examinations and if it means that I could have thirteen more years in the same school with the same people, I would give my Board Examinations all over again.