This year is the year my son is taking PSLE. Many thoughts keep swirling in my head, and thought I just pen down my thoughts, incoherent it might be.
It is difficult for him. My wife and I have pushed him hard, and I must say his attitude has improved compared to last year, and there is more effort from him. As a primary school teacher, I knew in terms of efforts, or/ and capability, he is nowhere near the top or comparable to diligent pupils who are hungry for success.
Yet, seeing him trying is good enough for me. (I speak only for myself)
We did discuss about a secondary school that he should aim for. I am not sure if he is really interested anyway, likely he is not interested in the school and more interested in the school where most of his friends would apply to.
It is a very surreal experience this year, teaching both my son and my pupils. I have been teaching graduating classes for many years, and this is the year where I really stop and ask myself, does a particular secondary school really matters?
I know it matters because the pupils of that school would become your child friends, you might want to stretch his capabilities by keeping him constantly challenged by other pupils equally smart or smarter. Given school tailored their programs according to the profile of the pupils, definitely different schools offer different programs. However, I am of the view, what he gets, is where he goes. If he did very well, good, and fine. If he slips, he go to a lower tier school, I am fine with it.
What I cannot accept is not putting in effort in the pursuit of academic excellence. Stress, is inevitable in my opinion, and the pupil who got the worst end of the deal and those who do not grumble. Those who are lazy whine the most, although there are always exceptions.
I went to a notorious school. However, it was the best experience in my life. Pei Dao Secondary School used to be in Toa Payoh. The school is a powerhouse in volleyball, there is no focus in CCA, no such thing as DSA in my time, we trained hard, and that means everyday except Sunday during the holiday, and we were duly crowned the National Champions in C division. As I need to help out in my dad stall, I decided to change my CCA in secondary 3, but that experience is really invaluable. I was made the head prefect in my school, I was a useless one at that, but I at least learn to talk to all pupils from both express and normal stream, and try to assist my teacher in whatever way I could.
Looking back, I believed my life is shaped by many moments, and Secondary School, is really about my social view, I never have a problem of a being a snob (I hope others feel the same), I find "ah bengs" rather nice people. If you ask me, the real "gangster" during my time is so much more "gentleman" than the gangsters nowadays. I enjoy the company of anyone, as long as they are honest with me. I had more problems with guarded "successful" people. Maybe It is sour grape mentality.
As I look at pupils in my school, and know of their "life stories" (some are pretty drama), I feel quite sorry for most of them. Are they living the dreams of others? Do they even have a dream? I didn't, but I studied for myself, and as and when as I wanted and feel like. I got 226 for PSLE. I do not feel ashamed about it, neither and I proud of it. It was what I could manage under the circumstances then.
I did volunteer work during my college days, I think that is one of those life-defining moments. Friends that I am still in contact with are friends I know when I volunteer at a hospital. I am still in contact with a few secondary school friends, but we do not meet up anymore.
NS also did shape some of my values.
So, my son, and my pupils. I love you regardless of your results. I hope all of you think academic excellence seriously, and overcome challenges that come in that pursuit. If life is a bed of roses, you need not study so hard. It is not for that last mark, it is to build up that reservoir of resilience. I wonder if you ever feel that the adults have ulterior motives in helping you. I really do not have any, although I do get disappointed when you do not do well.
All the best. It is still 5 months away, but it will be over in a blink of the eye. Take care