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A or no A

On 21st November 2012, two days after the announcement of UPSR or Primary School Evaluation Test results, an open letter appeared in a local Chinese daily, the Sin Chew (attached above).

It was written in Mandarin, so I am doing a loose translation into English. Read on because it could be about you and your child………

A student in a primary school in Johore became disillusioned when his teacher accidentally omitted his name in the school’s list of top scorers for this year’s UPSR. Due to the teacher’s mistake, the poor boy ran and hid in a corner of the school hall to cry his heart out. After all the crying had been done, he realized how silly he had been. He then ran happily home to inform his parents of his results.

How will his parents reward him for scoring 5A’s? That is not my concern. Rather, my concern is this – what will happen if he did not get 5A’s? Will his parents comfort him or his teachers encourage him to do better next time? What about those who did not even get an A at all? Should we just dismiss or forget them?

Some time ago, when the government proposed to do away with all the public examinations, everyone was so happy. Hooray, no more examinations, no more pressures, no more comparisons!

But each time the results of a public examination were out, the Education Department, the school heads, the teachers, the parents – practically everyone in the community rejoiced and put the top scorers on high pedestal. Come on, admit it, we still cling to A’s as a benchmark to evaluate our children’s academic performances. This practice had been so deeply ingrained into our psyche.

A….A….A….this is how our education system had become today. From the moment our children first started to learn, we were rooting for them to get A’s. We have been conditioning our children to believe that without A’s, they are nothing and without A’s, there is no future for them. In short, A’s is everything.

In reality, we are turning public examinations into a mental torture for our children. There are many parents who claimed they are very open-minded, that they do not mind if their children did not score straight A’s. “If you could not score A’s, then at least score B’s!”

If a child could not get an A no matter how hard he had tried, how many parents will genuinely and gently sit down to comfort him? And say words like, “Never mind, you have done your best, the most important thing is you have learnt something.” Or give him warmth hugs and say, “Don’t give up, the road ahead is still long, just put in more efforts!” Really, how many of us can be that generous with our children in the face of failure?

If your child did not score A’s, do not lose heart. All is not lost yet.

There was a student who always got the 23rd position in class. But people around her like her friends or relatives are very ambitious. She only aims to be a kindergarten teacher and a loving mother one day. So what did her parents do? They got her a home tutor, the one-to-one type. This made her very nervous and her grades dropped even further – she got the 33rd position. Alarm by this regression, her parents immediately terminated the home tutor’s service and left their daughter to study at her own pace.

One day, after the school examinations was over, the counseling teacher called on the student’s mother. What did this teacher told the mother?

In one of the examination papers, there was a question of who the most ideal student is and what are the qualities that you find most admirable in that student?

Most of her classmates chose her. What were their reasons?

She was helpful, trustworthy, even-tempered, friendly, jovial, compassionate and smart – she possessed all the qualities other students secretly wished they have too. They loved to have her as their class monitor too.

“Although she is a moderate student, but she is highly regarded by her peers,” the teacher told the mother.

See, your child do not have to have A’s to shine. Having desirable attitudes is far more meaningful than just having him doing well in his studies.

Do you agree with this open letter?

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