Harsha Bhogle’s advice to anxious class X students

The class X results are like a blood test, you are not dead yet but they tell you if you are headed there. They allow you to make a correction in your life, says Harsha Bhogle

It’s results time here in Mumbai—class X results are out. Good time to reproduce an interview with Harsha Bhogle, where he offers some words of wisdom to the students. [Parts of the interview might seem dated, This interview, titled Not Clean Bowled first appeared in 2004 in the Mumbai edition of Education Times, a supplement of The Times of India]

MK: What is the right attitude to exams and results?
Harsha Bhogle:
It is easier said than done. It is easier for us to comment because we have the advantage of looking back at something. But if our experience is any indicator, students need to tackle an exam exactly the way a sportsman does a match. You prepare hard, the secret is in the preparation, and the executions often takes care of itself. I believe a student needs to replicate an exam in his preparation the way a good batsman tries to replicate a match in the nets. Confidence comes from preparation and if you are not prepared, you will be tense. Several times students have their minds elsewhere when they are studying. This is natural and I am sure we were like that as well. But if they can learn the art of giving 100 per cent while studying and 100 per cent while relaxing or doing something else, they will gain a lot. VVS Laxman, who was an outstanding student, and did very well in his class X, told me that when he was playing cricket he didn’t think of studies and when he was studying he didn’t think of cricket!

MK: How does one stay motivated in spite of failures?
Harsha Bhogle:
I must admit it is difficult because even today i am disappointed if I haven’t performed. And when you are 15 or 16 it is easy to believe that the world has shut its doors on you. At such times the best thing to do is to seek inspiration elsewhere; from stories that remind you that one failure isn’t the end of the world; that most people in life have a second chance if they are prepared to search for it. Look at the recent French open final where Gaudio Lost the first set 0-6, the second 3-6 and still won the match. Or the test at Kolkata against Australia, where India, already 0-1 down in the series, were 274 behind in the first innings. They still won the test and went on to win the series. But students need to look at such Instances not out of a sense of fantasy but with a sense of determination.

MK: Do you think class X results are the most important determining factor in a student’s life? Why?
Harsha Bhogle:
No, but they are important. Anybody who thinks they are not is running away from the truth. If you have done badly the first thing you must do is acknowledge that you have done badly and not get carried away by people who say “no problem, let it be”. Of course there is a problem but unless you realise there is a problem you cannot solve it. The class X results are like a blood test, you are not dead yet but they tell you if you are headed there. They allow you to make a correction in your life. If you know what you did wrong in class X you can correct it in class XII but you must know what you did wrong. A batsman who gets out the same way twice is not learning, so too a student who makes the same mistakes.

MK:What is your advice to students who are unhappy with their class X results and are feeling worthless?
Harsha Bhogle:
Allow yourself to feel worthless for a while and tell yourself you will never let yourself feel that way again. Once you experience the pain, you will know what it is and then if you are strong you can make it your biggest motivator. Again this is easily said and students who are 15 or 16 should ideally have someone around who can remind them of that. If people around them keep telling them they are useless, they will continue feeling that way. Look at Marvan Atapattu, who is now captain of Sri Lanka and who has scored six double centuries in test cricket. His first six innings in test cricket had five ducks and a single. If he thought he was worthless he would never have scored all these runs.

MK: You are a parent of a class X student. How critical is the role of parents in helping students cope with their results?
Harsha Bhogle:
Very critical. A child should know that come what may, his parents are in his team. A family is the only unit in which nobody changes sides and we should be emphasising the role of this ultimate unit instead of irresponsibly glamourising broken marriages. The parents have to be a child’s shelter and I feel sorry for people who seek attention by stating otherwise. Having said that I think parents are sometimes more at fault for they seek to fight their wars through their children, use their children’s marks as their status symbols, occasionally transfer their ambitions onto their children. And they cannot transfer their tensions onto the kids. If the captain is tense the team will be tense, if the captain is calm the team thinks there is hope. But this is an ideal situation and we have all been guilty of these things.

MK: How should one perform well, not in academics only but in all spheres of life?
Harsha Bhogle:
I guess each of us needs to find our own solution. I found that enjoying what I do, and not looking upon it as a chore, worked wonders; believing that every activity you perform is deserving of your full ability, giving it 100 per cent, is a good starting point. Also I think students should set realistic goals and parents can help hugely here. Not everyone can get 90 per cent, not everyone can score a double century, so you need to measure your marks against what you think is a fair target.

Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".