Thursday, May 24, 2012

Recently, i have been reading some of the parents' views about our local education system as well as their stand (what's more important to them). It provoked me to re-think about this whole business of pursuing academics success.

First, there is the parents of Dr jiajia. They shared on facebook that although their dyslexic son failed 2 subjects, they took it in their stride. I quote "... (we are) not worried about his future at all. If he is happy, he will end up having higher resistance to handle setbacks. That is most important..."

Coincidentally, Of Kids and Education recently wrote this post with the same message. She shared: "To me, kids who have not tasted failure are in a much more vulnerable position. In an achievement-centric system like Singapore's, kids like Lesley-Anne tend to link their self-esteem with their accomplishments. This comes about because they are constantly praised by teachers and parents for their academic and other achievements, so that they internalise the message as, "I'm valued because of what I've achieved, not who I am.":

Words of wisdom.

Most of us would show our disappointment and even reprimand our children when they fail to achieve the desired academic results. We push them to aim for the As, we send them to top schools, the best enrichment classes in hope that they will score in their examination. We equate being top in the class to a successful future. When our children end up last, we panic, we get angry, we question why. We think the worst for our children, we think their future is doomed.

Many of us have forgotten that failure is a form of success. We missed the opportunity of teaching our children to handle setbacks, to be resilient,  how to pick themselves up and move on. Instead, when they fail (despite much effort sown), we give them hell. In truth, we are telling them that it is NOT ok to fail, that failure is the end of the world, that failing means that they are weak, they are no good. At worst, they grow up truly believing they are good for nothings and self fulling prophesy sets in.

These 2 parents did me a HUGE favor with their insights. It reminds me that there are equally important skills, values to adopt other than academic success. Someone said it is not the product that counts but the journey. I have to disagree. I think the product is important but it is the journey that determines the product. We may have the As during the journey, but if we are not taught the right attitudes, skills, we will still end up a wrong product. Many of us are too blinded by the desired end that we forgot about the importance of the journey.

Time to time we need such reminders to get ourselves back on track. With each failure, therein lies a life lesson to learn that will only make us tougher for the road ahead.


  1. Heya!
    I'm so sorry you've been having a rough time. Great that you got to regroup and I'm sure the journey ahead will be smoother. I totally agree with your concerns that children are too often praised for their achievements (and not the effort) - this can have dire consequences, including poor self-esteem and an inability to internalise motivation, down the line. Have you read Positive Pushing by Dr James Taylor? It's a very insightful read about how to raise happy and successful achievers. Available in the library as well as on Amazon at

  2. Thanks G! Looks like an interesting book! Will look it up, thanks for sharing!


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