Wow, where do I start? I don’t know what possessed me to even broach this topic, but here we are. Perhaps I’ll start with this simple equation concept that all are familiar with:
Quality of effort invested = quality of results
This means that the quality of effort invested in any project or policy is directly co-related to the quality of results. It stands to reason that since so much emphasis has been placed (and money invested) in our education system, that we’d see better results as reflected in our children. However, I’m extremely sad to say that this is not the case. Perhaps it is our education system, or perhaps it is a lack of good parenting, or a combination of both, but the quality of our children still needs to be improved on.
I’m not saying our children aren’t smart enough or don’t do well enough. I’m not talking about academic performance, although I’m sure that’s the first thing on everyone’s minds when we speak of education. I’m simply saying this: our children are not well-rounded enough. And they grow up to be youths Singapore cannot be proud of.
Take a look at this list of objectives I pulled from Ministry of Education’s (MOE) brochure on primary school education:
Judging from all the horrific stories in the press, such as this one, we’ve clearly failed in the first and last objective. A few years ago, I was a Clarke Quay with a few friends. It was closing time for most of the bars/clubs there, and we were walking back to the taxi stand. We came across this girl who was so drunk, she passed out in the middle of the walkway. I went to her immediately because she was splayed on the ground in a very unsightly manner (her short skirt had ridden up, etc) and tried to wake her up, but to no avail. We called an ambulance and dialed the last contact on her mobile phone, to let her friends/family know which hospital she was headed to. While all this was going on, not one of the many passers-by (most of them youths and young adults) stopped to ask if she needed help. Many similar stories have been reported in the media, all revolving around how apathetic Singaporeans are.
Our education system has placed so much emphasis on striving for academic excellence, that our children grow up doing nothing but going for tuition classes, doing home work, and studying for crazy amounts of time. And with whatever little time they have leftover, they’re sent to classes that teach skills like piano and ballet. They become very one-dimensional, and the other areas of their personality are not developed to their full potential. We forget that there are other important traits we should cultivate in them — including creativity, innovation, compassion, kindness and manners. And more importantly, kids should have FUN. (I’m not talking about video games kind of fun — burn that trash!)
One-dimensional children grow up to become adults who are so focused on their careers that they forget to enjoy life, and care for our fellow human beings. Most of us work from 9am to 8pm or later each day, go home, spend a maximum of two hours with our spouse and family, and then hit the sack. Life would be so much more fulfilling if we allocated a strict number of hours to our work, and focused on the little bits of life that truly matter — time with our loved ones, having hobbies that make us truly happy, or even volunteering with the less fortunate.
This mentality will continue to go around in a never-ending cycle. Our children grow up with the current culture ingrained in them, and instill the same in their children. Until there is a drastic change in our education system, Singaporean children will continue to grow up as robots, who define success in life as having 5 ‘C’s — cash, condominium, credit cards, car and country club membership.
To be honest, while I would love my child to do well academically, I know I would have failed at parenting if he/she was not well-rounded, with values such as compassion, kindness and manners. I would have failed if my child becomes one of those many passers-by who walk on by, without sparing a second thought for someone else in need. I would have failed if my child grows up without a desire to help the less fortunate. We can have everything — a fancy car, a beautiful home and lots of cash — but life will be not worth living without the traits that make us truly human.