Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lets rethink their brief childhood

Saturday morning is a great time to connect with parents over breakfast as I wait for the kids to finish their gymnastics. We exchange notes and talk about….raising kids.

There is a Chinese school in Subang that is obsessed with good academic results to the extent of having extra tuition (mandatory) for those approaching the UPSR (Standard 6 exams). They have their regular school classes in the mornings and then extra tuition classes in the afternoons everyday including Saturday. My family doctor tells me that there are many “black out cases” from this Chinese school when nearing exams. The child comes to her stares blankly at the wall and cannot say a word. I was told that ECA’s (Extra Curricular Activities) in that school is often cancelled in favour of studying for exams.

In case any kiasu parents read this, please think with me in a rational manner for awhile….for the sake of your children.

The standard 6, UPSR exams is only an assessment of the child’s progress before secondary school. Failure does not prevent him from moving on to Form 1…or does it? Getting a B or C is certainly not the end of his career or life which has not even begun. In fact doing well in exams is not any indication of a person’s success in life or in business.

Einstein’s early failures:

  • In 1895 Einstein failed an examination that would have allowed him to study for a diploma as an electrical engineer at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zurich.
  • Following the failing of the entrance exam to the ETH, Einstein attended secondary school at Aarau planning to use this route to enter the ETH in Zurich.
  • While at Aarau he wrote an essay (for which was only given a little above half marks!) in which he wrote of his plans for the future.

In fact the very things that are important in a having successful career (assuming that is what we are after) are not taught in school. Things which Daniel Goldman calls the Emotional Quotient (EQ) are far more important in having a successful career. Character qualities like honesty, self control, patience, trustworthiness, meekness and benevolence etc...(www.characterfirst.com)
I think our quest to give our children a good future is now preventing them from having a meaningful childhood which is essential to their life as a responsible adult and citizen. We must relook at what is trully important in life and rethink how we shape this brief formidable years.


mumsgather said...

"Black out cases"? Thats awful! What are we doing to our kids these days??!

PabloPabla said...

We must first and foremost, guide them in the ways of the Lord so that they can have a personal relationship with Him. Seek ye first the Kingdom of the Lord and all these things will be given to you. Nobody will die of lack of education.

HM said...

Ha one of my favorite topics !!

I am firmly against tution and excessive ECA classes in primary and even pre-school - I cannot think of a rational reason for subjecting the poor kids to this unless they like the particular activity or sport. There really is NO rational reason for tuition at all except for parents kiasu-ism. Let the children proceed at their own pace. No matter what you do, there will be the ones who come first and there will be the ones who come last - by definition.

So what if one is a late developer ? So what if one comes first all the time ? Neither guarantees success or failure in later life. It is far more important to equip the child to be able to handle where he is - ie not to be arrogant when coming first and not to be depressed when coming last !

Meng's point on EQ is absolutely correct. It is far more important for the children to learn how to relate to those around them and to communicate. This will be a far more important success factor than any exam you will ever take in school.

This is a parents problem - inherent competitiveness I suppose. Exercise rationality and reasonableness. Every child is different, even siblings. Guide them, do not force them - we always think we know what is best. And we must not think our kids are our second chance.

Haing said all that, I must caveat that I have no kids (yet) ....



Blame society. Some people just want to make sure that their kids don't miss out on the bandwagon. What bandwagon you ask ? An illusionary one I think.

At the kindy where my son goes to, one mum recently came to me to have a chat. She was extremely concerned that her child was disinterested in class and was being taught more at home. She claims the school is not giving enough homework and hence not seen to be as competitive as some other school in the surrounding area. She talks about how she wants to send her child to selective school (a kind of school where public exams are taken and cream of crop only goes there) and she sees that her son will suffer further educational decline if he was to be kept in that school. For christ sake, her son's only in kindy. What was she expecting ? An adult behaviour ? And guess what, the kindy is one of the best around my area if not the best parents can send their kids to. Maybe enough is always never enough.

The world has come to this state purely due to the iron grasp of capitalism. Capitalism drives competitive behaviour. Competitive behaviour is trained in an adults mind. This behaviour is subsequently transferred by parents to most children in the form of if you don't study hard enough, there might not be a place for you left in this world. An example is the ASEAN scholarships which some Malaysians like to send their children to Singapore for. What reason is there except for competition ? If your child is intelligent, don't you want to try to do the same ?

It's sad but nevertheless, some parents do take it to extremes.

Meng said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meng said...

HM I am familiar with failings and was definitely not a star student in school. I recall those single digit marks for add maths and Physics. Just didn't make sense to me then.....actually maybe even now.

PabloPabla has said what is of utmost importance to me and that is to raise my kids to love Christ supremely. To live a life that is pleasing to God and serving Him in a world that does not put value on Godly things. To me they have succeeded.
Success is definitely not measured by ones bank account or job title.

PabloPabla said...

Incidentally, my pastor just shared a message with us last Friday that parents will never be able to make their children to be the very person they want them (the children) to be. It is beyond their control. The best gift a parent can give to the children is to be a good parent - giving time, love, care, guiding them with good moral values, imparting ethical values etc.


Les, you had single digits for add maths !! I'm better than you a bit then, I got double digits, 11. KKK

you said 'Success is definitely not measured by ones bank account or job title.'. Yup is purely measured by inheritance !! Look at Paris Hilton...(just joking).

PabloPabla said...

By the way, I was also a "failure" regular for Add Maths during secondary school days :P

Anonymous said...

A recent movie called "Yours, Mine and Ours" starring Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo taught me something valueble about famil life. That a house is not for good impression but for free expression. Kids need to kids, play when it's time to play and learn when it's time to learn.

I live in Australia and it is obvious even in a western environment that Asian kids are often seen taken to tuition classes. This happens after school and on weekends. You would hardly notice an Asian kid playing in the park. Don't get me wrong, I think tuition can be a good thing but often it is taken too far in that the child misses out on the social development aspect.

It is no wonder that Asians are uptight socially.

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