Thursday, September 19, 2013

A father's chronicle (Examinations)

I think every parent in Singapore must have a few worrisome moments about their child's education in Singapore. Some of the major milestones are: Getting into a primary school of choice, and the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Theophilus is going through his final phase of PSLE preparation. To be exact, the preparation starts some 2 years back. The syllabus stretches from Primary 4 -6. It can be quite anxiety to really prepare them for this exam.

For those who are reading this blog from abroad, just some background: It might be a little strange, but in Singapore, there is a lot of stress on academic excellence. Yes, we are trying to loosen up, but that will still take time before the society can really accept those who are not that academically inclined. It can also sometimes on the extreme side of life - going for extra lessons that is on advance level of the subject.

Anyway, I must admit that I have my own fair share of worries for Theophilus. Probably it is due to the way my generation was groomed, we still view education has a major impact to one's livelihood. Life can be tough for those who have not acquired sufficient academic qualifications.

Perhaps, Singapore is a very small nation. A small population. A small piece of land. It will not be able to match the variety that comes with a larger population. I can see our nation progresses. I can also see our effort to change. I can also sense our want to open up more opportunities and avenues to reach 'success'. Nevertheless, my son is taking PSLE this year and in a couple of weeks time... this can be a little nightmare.

As I look at the standard of the examination questions, I am some what bewildered. I often asked myself: You mean you are doing this at this tender age? E.g. I never did Geometric Progression until I was at age 15. They are already doing it at 12. The geometry questions are no longer that straight forward. Speed, time, distance... all the questions... I often wonder are they testing English language or testing mathematical concepts and understanding.

In some ways, I 'pitied' my son's generation. I have less pressure. I never had the push of 'internet' when I was young. Computers were a rare thing - even calculators were a 'wow' back in my time. I have the time to look at clouds. Now, I wonder how often Theophilus have the time to look out of the window and just day dream!

I hope the examinations go off quickly. I want him to enjoy life and to really take stock of all the goodness that we have around us. I hope he can grow up slowly and not too quickly.... I hope he won't get discourage to learn with the claws of examination choking his throat.