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Let’s not be squares about report cards

Report cards that gives equal importance to all subjects? A dream that is slowly becoming a reality for those of us not inclined towards becoming engineers or doctors

Published: 21st March 2018 10:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd March 2018 02:26 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU:Remember that hopeless feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have to take your report card home to your parents? The linear, tabular format our report cards have followed for decades, highlight the subjects that we have been conditioned to believe have 'scope' to enhance our careers and are true markers  of a child's 'intelligence' — namely mathematics and science.  The other subjects, be it history, art or sports, are pushed to the bottom of this report card.

The circular report card gives
equal importance to all subjects

Now, city-based Dentsu Webchutney, the digital arm of Dentsu Aegis Network, has redesigned this report card into a circular format, called the Progressive Report Card, to bring about a change in the education system, where all subjects are given equal importance. "The reason we chose to redesign the report card was because it is seen as something of a Holy Grail in a society that still strives on marks. It was a fairly personal idea. A lot of us who have taken up ‘offbeat’ careers, such as advertising, journalism or art, are familiar with the struggles that come with it. The fact that 'struggle' is seen as an intrinsic part of taking up these careers, is a fallacy. The first question an artist is asked is about his/her journey of struggle, how they got their parents to support them, etc. We wanted to change this," says PG Aditya, senior creative director at Dentsu Webchutney.

While the concept of holistic education, that is based on the idea that learning doesn't have to be restricted to textbooks, classrooms and certain subjects, has been around for a while, with some schools even implementing this, the general perception that parents still have is — 'Isme toh scope hi nahin hai', adds Aditya, on why this would help in ending favouritism towards traditional subjects.

Theory of Perception

Ishtaarth Dalmia, creative strategist at Dentsu Webchutney, says that from the design aspect, the idea was to look at it as a whole unit.  "For the design aspect, we derived our conclusions from the Feature Integration Theory, which is the framework we followed to redesign it. This theory proposes that when people look at certain objects, it reminds them of the features of the object faster than the actual meaning of it. And what had happened over decades with the report card was that it was seen as something that only highlighted maths and science," says Dalmia, adding that the circle symbolizes unity, equality and wholeness, which is why they chose it.

Aditya adds, "What we haven't realised is that these report cards actually reinstate parents' biases in a visual manner, inadvertently so. There is no one empirical truth as to why the subjects are in that order — but the fact is that the report card has been unconsciously promoting this favouritism for mainstream subjects. This could be seen as a physical, tangible way of slowly shifting this bias." 

Tanuja Viswanath, head of the english department at Head Start Educational Academy, says that she is very open to this 'great idea', as it sends a strong message to parents. "As children get older, they and their parents tend to focus on science-based subjects and maths, which alienates a chunk of students. To become more inclusive and work on the different strengths of each child, a report card such as this one would be essential in sending a strong message to parents. Also, the fact that certain subjects, be it art, sports or music, are considered extracurricular, can be changed with a simple redesigning of the report card," she says, adding that they will definitely look into implementing this in the following school year.

Aditya says that their aim with this project is to ensure that by 2018, at least one school in each state implements the Progressive Report Card. "While implementing it for the board exam classes will be tough (10th standard onwards), as these boards follow their own system of marking and gradation, it would be a utopian dream for us if the way report cards for 10th and 12th standards are represented could change — however, this would be a long-drawn process," he says, adding that through conversations with teachers and headmasters across the country, who have received this concept very positively, it has been established that this report card should be introduced at the kindergarten level itself.

For more details on the Progressive Report Card, check out their website at theprogressivereportcard.com.

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