At Mainadevi Bajaj International School, at this time of the year, as one set of students are deeply involved in co-curricular activities such as Sports Day and Annual Day, another set of students is entering a phase of anxiety. These are the students of Grades 10 and Grade 12 who approach their board examinations.
Achieving a balance between academics and co-curricular activities is an important aspect of planning a school’s holistic curriculum. There are many schools which will aim for excellence in academics, as represented by performance at competitions and board examinations, and there are others who seek to give their students an education that will focus on both.
Living as we do in a competitive environment which demands that students produce good results in their IGCSE, IB and other examinations why do some schools feel it necessary to introduce a variety of programmes such as dance, drama, martial arts and many sports, apart from academics?
*An improved and more intelligent outlook: Some students and many parents worry that participating in extracurricular activities is inversely related to academic performance. They feel it takes away from time to be devoted to schoolwork. However, evidence collected over the years suggests otherwise and indicates that extracurricular activities actually improve your grades and your outlook on schooling in general. It increases brain function and helps you concentrate and manage your time better. Studies also indicate that those participating in extracurricular activities have a positive attitude towards school and life in general.
*Discovering a new self: Extracurricular activities allow you to explore a broad range of interests including some areas that you may never have thought of touching upon. It may be the way in which you discover new passions. If a science student joins a school’s theatre or music programme she may find a hidden talent.
*The feel-good factor: Apart from that, the fact that you are doing something new in your life and are actually good at it increases your self-esteem which then envelops many areas of your life. One good thing about most extracurricular activities is that they are not graded and hence there is no fear of failure. This allows you to enjoy the activities without getting into a competitive mode.
*Making new friends: Mired as we are in the world of academics, often our best friends are our books and tuition classes. Extracurricular activities open up a new world for social networking, allow you to discover new things to do and expand your opportunities. It also gives us an opportunity to make significant social contributions in the form of community service.
*Life skills: And there is no limit to the essential life skills that a student learns through her extra-curricular activities. In the first place, you learn to prioritize between academics and other activities. Depending upon the activity you choose you will acquire the relevant skills. A dancer, singer or theatre person will not only learn the skill appropriate to the discipline but will also learn how to present himself in the public sphere and this is likely to benefit him in all realms of life. A sportsperson learns to discipline herself as well as become a leader, a team member and develop the high level of dedicated focus required to do well in the sport. Goal setting, time management and problem solving become essential to succeed in many extra-curricular activities and the spill-over effects are innumerable and touch upon every aspect of your life.
*Looks good on your univ application: If one were to think in a very self-centred manner, apart from the joy, the skills and social networking benefits that one gets from extra-curricular activities, these also look great on your resumes when you apply for university admissions. If a university is faced with a choice between a student who scored 90 per cent marks in a board examination with no extracurricular activities and another who has scored 85 per cent but also has passed level four of the Trinity music exam, they are likely to choose the latter because of what he brings to the table.
Similarly, in later life, as you build your career, it is these activities that will not only count on your resumes but will also make you a more open-minded, energetic and efficient human being.
*Academics+: Keeping this in mind at MBIS we offer a plethora of extra-curricular activities with the management actively promoting and rewarding engagement in sports and cultural activities. Sports Days and Annual Days are only a culmination of this balanced education that is offered at the school.
Director of Schools
Rajasthan Sammelan Education Trust