Tag Archives: education

Education myth or a paper chase

For the last few years, my train of thoughts had changed drastically.  I used to think that I would be a kiasu parent and I would send my child to all kinds of enrichment programmes so that I could train him to be a prodigy.  I had even gone up to the Shichida office, took a look at the programme and was ready to place a deposit to secure a place.  Midway, I took a step back.

I took a step back to review the whole situation.

I decided that was not the way to go.

I knew that by exposing my child to such programmes, I would meet more like-minded parents and I would become more and more anxious about my child’s progress or lack of progress.  I was a very competitive person and I had to conscientiously moderate this competitiveness.  I knew that I could not force my child to study and if Z were to fall short of my expectations, it would be a difficult parent-child relationship.  I could be very driven and motivated but that did not mean that my children would take after me.  His learning curve, his mental development and his attitude were external factors which I could not control or would be very aggrieved trying to do so.

Besides, taking a step back had made me see and observe other societal problems in developed countries such as Korea, Japan and Europe where graduates were aplenty.

Last week, I had shared this NY Times article(http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/15/world/europe/voices-of-the-young.html?_r=0) on Facebook.  This quote tugged my heartstrings the most.  “I grew up being told that I could become anything I wanted, as long as I worked hard and educated myself. I did all of these things, but even after receiving my master’s degree two years ago, it is still hard to find a job that really suits my interest.”

Would I want to give this white lie to Z & X?  Given my wide perspective, my experiences and my social circle, I knew that quote ring a bell.  It was true that no matter what you studied, it would be hard to find a job that really suited a person’s interest due to the job market, the rapid shifts in economy and trends and even the person’s preferences.

Since I knew it was a white lie, would I really want to dive into the academic rat race?  Had anyone played the cash flow game?  It imparted a very good concept and I knew how to beat the rules of the game.  As long as luck was not a factor, I could win most board games.  My children’s advantage would not be about attending enrichment classes or excelling in academics.

Their advantage would be to have both Mr H and I to teach them the ways of life, to think, to analyze and to have an interest in everything around them.  Their advantage was to have a mother so driven and motivated to gather information and to pass it down to them in the manner that they could comprehend.  Their advantage was to be able to talk and discuss with us, and received a well-thought reply.

It might be bold to say this but parents should snap out of the education myth and focus on how to help their children to survive for the future challenges.  What worked in the past would not work today or for the future.  The paper chase and qualification would not shield them from recession or other challenges ahead.

To clarify, I did not mean that education was unnecessary but education was only meaningful if the person valued and maximized the benefits.  I had opted in to do my MBA by virtue of interest and strong self-motivation.  I was glad that I took it up because it changed the way I analyzed and taught me to view everything on a broader perspective.  I valued the MBA because I chose to do it and had invested time, money and effort.  Would I have valued it if I was simply told to walk into it and had it fully paid for by my parents?  I reckoned we all knew the answer.  That was the same principle and consistency which I applied at work too.  For record’s sake, I actually had to get a pretty decent GMAT score and cleared rounds of interviews before getting into the program.

If anyone wanted the paper chase, it had to be the child himself or herself, not the parent to push or drag the child through the chase.  Nor should the parent fill the child’s head with promises of a better life with paper qualifications in hand.  Remember, the world was flattened with the introduction of internet.  We were no longer limited by missing puzzles of information.  If you asked me, bilingualism was important.  We would be doing ourselves and our children a favour by expressing interest in our mother tongues.

Whenever I read in the papers that parents had written in to ask for reduction in the importance or syllabus for Chinese language, it was actually a disservice to our children.  I only recognized the importance lately and I believed it was up to me to reiterate the importance to my children and show them that I embraced the language proudly too.  A lot of good information was available in Chinese on baidu.com.  If your child was poor in Chinese, how would they be able to mine through tons of information on baidu?

Could you see the contradiction in our society – the lack of balance on enrichment classes versus interests versus examinations?  We could blame the government for all we want but we could think for ourselves and decide on the best route.  The government could only provide the best of what it could and the rest was up to us.

Every parent wanted the best for their child but following a template formula was not the best solution.  Lastly, if a child was meant to be a prodigy, he or she would be.  If your child was not a prodigy, welcome to the club!  Most of us were not anyway.

Importance of education or lack thereof

As part of the emerging Generation Y (1980-2000) parents, I hope I am not wrong to assume that we are very different from how parents of the Baby boomers or Generation X would bring up their children.  We have experienced a different economy, a different education and most importantly, a different world (if you haven’t read ‘The world is flat’).

Education used to be a competitive advantage that could get our parents and perhaps our generation further.  Given today’s development in Singapore, education is no longer a given advantage.

If every child is very strong academically, are we creating a monopolistic competition market?  In a MC market, the way to succeed is to create differentiation.  Shouldn’t we try to create differentiation in our child by identifying what their competitive advantage is?

If we want to measure the success of parenting, is it fair to look at our children’s academic achievements?  It is easy to look at that because that is a tangible number for benchmarking.  Is that the objective of parenting?

With internet and search engines aplenty, knowledge is not king anymore.  Tomorrow’s battle ground is not on academics.  How I plan to prepare Z is to be realistic, to learn that what he has today is a privilege (not an entitlement), how to brave adversities, how to take on challenge, and how to fail.  Succeeding may be harder to attain than failing but accepting failures is harder than accepting success.

In my opinion, successful parenting should be measured by our ability to raise a happy, confident, independent and kind person who would grow up to love his parents, his family and everyone around him.  The onus lies on the parents to nurture and bring up the children.  The measurement is on us, not on the grades the children bring home.

I believe that my children can grow up in Singapore and not conform to the pressure-cooker educational policies.  I believe that academic is not the root of success in tomorrow’s world and it should not be a yardstick to measure how brilliant my children are.