Thursday, November 9, 2017

Random thoughts: 5 more Marks or joy of learning?

This is a question I asked myself, and some of my pupils and their parents.

What comes to your mind? If u think for a while, your answer will most probably be depends. Let me give my take.

My definition of joy, is not just fun having activities. It might be a tough slog, but a process of some guided self-discovery, and maybe some self-reflections. 

Hence, because it is contextualize according every pupils, their quality of answers will definitely differ and I cannot enforced the “right answer” even if I have a better answer (in terms of marks) in my mind. Otherwise, the mindset of pupils will be, “just show me the method” 

There are other more authentic ways of learning too, usually about creating a interesting scenario for pupils to work on something, but those activities are time

There are some fun ways of drilling, and I have already embrace that. So, let’s say if your child, is an obedient child, does all the teacher ask him to do, he could have get 80 marks if he do more drill and practices, will u let him get 75 if he have more opportunity at “fun learning” 

I knew my own answer. It is 75 and have more opportunity at fun. Some parents I ask are like me. But their children want the last 5 marks. These are the high achieving pupils. I know the answer for the weaker pupils. If u could have more fun and lose 5 marks they would.

But the context change when it is not a drop of 5 marks from 80 to 75. What happens if it is 50 to 45? A difference of pass and fail, a difference of A and B?

But, is there really a difference? 

After this informal fact finding exercise with my own brain ( I mind f**) and also with a few trusted parents and colleagues, I am more at peace with my approach and I think has become relative more 平常心with marks. I do not seek to influence my teachers though. 

When I drill, those that I drilled has a very high success rate. But I also realise the reverse is true, those that I not drilled have very high failure rate. 

In the end it’s a balance and I think I have found my own balance, a new balance. 

What about u? Under what circumstances would
U as a parent or a student, go for that 5 marks or joy? 


  1. Sillyinvestor,

    My colleague when young was "forced" by her parents to attend those hothousing course to improve her test scores.

    It worked.

    But she admitted she has since forgotten everything... It was just technique in scoring well for exams; no joy of learning.

    She won't be putting her own kids through what she has experienced ;)

    Good grades didn't help her much in her corporate career...

    We had this conversation because she was impressed and curious how I managed to peppered examples from history and literature in my corporate presentations ;)

    I told her I got F9 for History and C5 for Literature - I don't like to study for exams.

    But since I enjoy reading without goal, objective, and KPI, some of the knowledge manage to stuck within me even after I left school!?

    And I still read for the fun of it :)

    You'll be surprised how many adults stop reading (learning) after they left school...

    1. Hi SMOL,

      I know what you are talking about, and I also know there is a need to balance and 江湖。But, I felt more and more out of place.

      I kinda of in the mental model just do as long as possible, when its time shown the door, then lets go....

      I dun think it will be very long... Being going against tide for a while le... think will pay back ... sooner or later

  2. Hi Sillyinvestor,

    The current grade system does not give extra reward for points above 75 (A1). A student can get 100% but it is still the same grade A1. Therefore, the optimum time allocation would be to allocate just enough time to score A1. If a student scores >90, he has probably wasted too much time on a particular subject. It is fine if the extra points were a result of his passion for the subject. However, if he were simply going through the motion and doing his duty as a student to score good grades, then the optimum best-outcome score would be 75, not 100.

    By not over-allocating his time to scoring good grades, he will have extra time to develop himself in other areas. He can spend more time on his hobbies. That is what a well-rounded education is about. Developing well-balanced individuals who have knowledge and skills outside school topics.

    1. Hyom,

      That’s kind of like my thinking too. I mean if they were to fail, the 5 marks might be important.

      Yesterday, I throw the same qn to 2 of my class. Give them diff scenario

      Most pupils wanted 5 marks.

      For those who wanted joy, a lot of them dun care it’s 5 marks, 10 marks. They also dun really give if the 5 marks mean pass or fail A it B

      They are also those who said “whatever” drill me to death, let it be fun, whatever la. Come I take ...


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