So over the last few weeks, which i spent in my homeland of Singapore, i have observed my friends with their children and other children in general. i have eavesdropped on conversations (not intentionally, people are just in such close proximity on public transport, it can’t be helped).
My friends and we generally share the same basic principles in parenting and allowing our children to learn as much as they can on their own.
But the conversations of the kids on the trains tell me something else. They seemed so pre-occupied with issues which are non-issues really. But then they were teens and of cos i’m on a completely different wavelength.
Then i spoke to another friend who is a lecture at a technical institute and am horrified to hear that even there, the last stop before these young people face society as working adults, students hide behind their parents; getting their parents to fight for everything from a better grade to days off without valid reasons, to excuses for undone work.
All the above left me wondering and making a comparison with the way kids are taught here, what they are expected to learn and be able to do on their own here. It also reminded me of this article: Why my child will be your child’s boss – CBS News.
Have a read and let me know what you think.
My favourite line:
So, while he’s 4 and generally covered in dirt, I suspect he’ll be more prepared for leadership when we move back to the U.S. than will children who have no freedom and responsibility and face no consequences.
That is, if he doesn’t cut off his own hand with the saw.
… which translated (German to English) means Assessment Meeting.
Yesterday we had our 1st parent/teacher meeting (i believe this is the more commonly used term) with Tobias, looking at his last few months in 1st Grade.
i was quite nervous before the meeting. i worried about being able to understand what the teacher said and being about to express myself correctly and in appropriate words. My German is conversational but in certain topics my vocabulary is still very limited; i sometimes feel like a seven year-old trying to explain the finer points of an internal combustion engine with the language skills of a three-year old.
Thank God it went well. He is doing good at school and able to do the work well. He is restless a lot and a little slow in completing his work. But his teacher is very understanding, saying that it is all expected given his previous diagnosis (ADHD). She pointed out that his behaviour is still acceptable as he is not disturbing the class greatly and he is quite proficient with his schoolwork.
She was very surprised that he is able to keep his place and the classroom in good order, very uncharacteristic of a ADHD boy. At this point, i wished i could have to words to say, “This is one of the reasons i do not think my son has ADHD. He is just inattentive at times and is very energetic, with a brain which keeps going.” But i didn’t; i didn’t think i have the right words without sounding rude and i also didn’t think i had the words to keep the discussion going in that direction. So instead i said, ‘Oh yes, i’m very strict about how his things are kept at home. It helps him to find things easily and be less frustrated.’ But this is just me, bemoaning my poor German language skills.
Back to what the teacher said. He is great with Math and she was pleasantly surprised at how good his German is, coming from a non-German speaking family. She showed us how he was able to look at a picture and construct a proper sentence about it. Thank God he has his father’s language skills. His weak point she feels is his handwriting and that he dislikes drawing and colouring; generally things which require patience and fine motor skills. So that’s something we have to work on.
His social skills (they are big on social skills here) are on par. However, he did have a couple of incidents where he was closed to slashing out. But she was there to help him control himself. Still it is not a big issue.
The one thing which most impressed me about the whole meeting, besides how understanding his 1st Grade teacher is, is the very first thing she got Tobias to do when we started the meeting.
She had green slips of paper which represented different aspects of school, e.g. I can do plus sums, I take part in class activity, I play well with my friends, I know my alphabets etc… She took each slip, read it to Tobias and asked him to decide how he thought he has done in those aspects. If he thought that he did real well, then he would put a fully opened flower on that green stalk. If he thought only some of the time or not so good, then he would put on a half-opened flower. If he thought he had not done well at all, then he would pick a closed bud. So bit by bit he built his flower bouquet. Tobias had only 3 half-opened flowers, the rest were fully opened. *proud*
i think this sort of self-evaluation is so great! And starting so early in their school years is fantastic! It will build into him a habit of looking at himself and knowing how to evaluate himself and how to move on from there. i whispered to my husband as he was doing this exercise with her, “How come we never got such evaluations when we were in school?” When i was in school, all the evaluation was one-sided, coming from the teacher and the teacher’s point of view only. i think if students from my class had been given such opportunities, it would show a very different picture and would even give the teachers a better view of where their students truly stand and any potential family problems or social problems would be spotted early on.
Looking forward to the rest of the school year now 😀
i’m appalled that the education scene in Singapore has come to this! Children getting tested even for classes that are supposed to help them do better in school.
These people are just after the money – they don’t really care about the children who come to their classes! All they care about are results (the kids getting good results so they can brag & get more customers); & with results come more money. i say if you don’t truly care about the kids, then don’t join the education business… (incorrect to say business cos then it will be about money)… don’t join in educating children!
When i went to school, sure there was pressure to perform & be the best but never to this extend where everything is dependent solely on the results you produced. i’m ever grateful to my parents for being who they are; for never pressuring me to do more than i can; for saying that as long as i have done my best, it’s good enough.
The other thing which makes me mad about this is this – What about the kids who truly need that little extra help to get up to standard (which is constantly shifting)?? They are the ones who do need the extra classes & attention. What about them? Whose helping them? By allowing only the “smart” kids to join these classes, they are just making the rift between the education of “smart” kids & “normal” kids bigger; which leads to an even bigger middle-class gap in society! Isn’t education about allowing every child the opportunity to do his/her best & to excel in doing what they do best & love best. To educated them, not discriminate against them!
A friend commented on her Facebook about this, speaking about whose is to blame – she is right & here i quote her cos i could not have said it better:
Some say it’s the education system’s fault. Some say, it’s the parents’ fault. To me, both have their share in this whole rat race. It’s scary, but it’s very real, and our children are living in this kind of environment and expectations. How they’ll ‘survive’ will greatly depend on us and the values we instill in them since very young …
This article just makes me appreciate the education system in Switzerland even more. That is not to say that it is a prefect system; far from that, it has its flaws but at least they realise & see the need for children to be children, to enjoy their childhood & playtime; which will teach them social & coping skills which books/academics can not! i share a tiny bit about the differences in the systems here.
This article has sparked much debate in Singapore now. i hope & pray that such debate will lead to positive action & improvement for the sakes of the children.