more to schools than results.

I have said this on my Facebook and my Twitter. I’ll say it again here –

PSLE scores don’t really matter that much. It’s what the kids and their parents do during the bumpy teenage years that does.

That’s what I believe in.

And I honestly believe in that. While most kids and parents are probably frowning over which schools to choose, I thought I will write this post to share my experience and thoughts since I’ve gone through the entire education system. If you know what I mean.

What I got for PSLE

I didn’t do very well for my PSLE scores. I scored 229 and got a B for my Mathematics. My mum wanted me to go to Anderson Secondary School but it was apparent that I can never make it. But, instead of scolding me, my mum told the neighbours how proud she was of me. In the end, I went to a notorious neighbourhood school well-known for their ah-bengs and ah-lians (back then) – Deyi Secondary School.

Oh yes. One of my ‘best friend’ back then told another classmate that (and I quote), “…her future is doom.” And we were only 12. ANYWAYS!

Studying at Deyi

Deyi turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. Instead of being a small-fish in a big pond, I was a big-fish in a small pond. I am finally in an education landscape that fit my pace of studying. I started excelling in my studies.

On top of that, I learned alot of things. Things that are not related to academic. I learned about discipline, teamwork, perseverance, determination and integrity. 

This values stuck with me. Even till now. There are loads of examples that I can provide but at the same time, there are also those not-so-obvious instances where these values are taught to me without me knowing. The 4 core values of Deyi – Determination, Diligence, Discipline and Dedication – are very ingrain in the way the school functions.

Also, I had really awesome teachers. Teachers who believed in me. For example, back in Secondary 2, I went through a rebellious phase. I will make up all sort of reasons to skip my CCA. The teacher in-charge came and lectured me. She couldn’t figure out well I was behaving like that (till now, I have no idea too-.-) I thought that with this “truant” episode, there’s no chance that I will be promoted to Patrol Leader (kind of like committee member). But I did. I got promoted to Patrol Leader in Sec 3 (: My teacher didn’t use that episode against me!

Oh yeah! Another incident is during Sec 2 streaming. Because I got a B3 for my science (As for the rest of the subjects), I was allocated a Home Economics class. Now, I am not saying the Home Economics class is not good. It’s just that…I have no interest in Home Economics. It was my last choice! So, I appealed to be changed to either an Accounting Class or a 2 Pure-Science class. My appeal was rejected in the beginning. But I don’t know what happened but…a few days later, I received a call to tell me that my appeal was successful (: Maybe my teachers spoke up for me? I don’t know. But yeah! (:

At Deyi, I got to develop my leadership skills. I was selected to be a Peer Support Leader and a Councillor (and went on to become a committee member in both groups). I don’t think that would have been possible in a more “renowned” school where the look for those who have innate ability and not really those who have potential. I went for camps, organised camps and even went to Taman Negara for leadership camp!

Other things I gained in Deyi, a lot of friends, a lot of memories and I think most important of all…I gained confidence.  

I saw this banner hanging outside Deyi, “Today, I’m proud to be a Deyian. Tomorrow, Deyi will be proud of me!” That made me smile (:

History trip to Beijing in Secondary 2.

I guess what I am trying to say is that…

It doesn’t matter whether if your kid goes to a branded school or not. It’s really about the culture of the school. Look at the culture of a school. Is it suitable for your kid? Look at the motto, the values and the principal messages etc

And also, look at your kid’s ability. Do you want him to be a big-fish in a small pond or a small-fish in a big pond where he/she might have to struggle to keep up? And maybe develop a sense of learned helplessness?Not good.

Yes, you may reason that going to be a branded school will help him/her greatly when it reaches O’levels cos they teach stuff that are slightly more than required. Well…NOT TRUE! Schools exchange test papers, so your kid will still be able to do those papers. And for the record, when I was doing papers from branded school, I scored. So this issue is really not an issue. Plus, plenty of my classmates made it into universities too!

And school asides…Wherever your kid end up in, PARENTS are the one who really make a difference. Don’t scold them just because they didn’t go to a school that you want them to go to. Or scold them when they score badly now or in the future. ENCOURAGE THEM. My parents were so proud that I went to Deyi and encouraged me whenever I meet a road block at school.

So yeah. That’s about it.

the thing about tuition.

I’m a bit late on this but here’s my stand on tuition. I think it’s okay to have tuition. Note, tuition is not the same as enrichment classes. Enrichment classes are stuff like creative writing, phonics and god-knows-what-else (yes, I am against enrichment classes).

Here’s why I think tuition is okay –

1. For a better understanding
My mum likes to say that, “读书要看你和老师的缘分”. This can be loosely translated to, “Studying depends on the affinity between you and the teacher.” And I think I agree with her. 

Different teachers have different ways of explaining the same things. Sometimes, you may not fully understand what the teacher in school is talking about and that’s when tuition teacher comes in handy. For example, back in secondary school, my friends couldn’t remember the direction of the sea convection current in the day and at night. So I came up with this –

Imagine the sea as CBD. People go to work in the day right? So, hot air goes out to the sea.

At night, people go home right? So…Hot air comes back to the land!

And everyone started remembering it more easily (:

My point is…Send your kids for tuition if you think that it will help them understand “school” better. If the kid is not used to their school’s teachers’ teaching style, no amount of remedial will help. A tutor might work better here.

Trust me. Been there, done that.

2. Outside Influence

I tutored a kid back when I was in university. She was really smart. I couldn’t understand why the mum hired me. Then I realised that the mum needed someone to “make” her kid sit down and practice.

No, the mum is not irresponsible. She sits down with the kid to do homework too. BUT! The effect of having an ‘external party’ is different.

How should I put this? Hmm.

If your mum tells you to stop running around, will you listen to her? Or will you listen to a stranger more? A stranger right? Cos there’s that…”I don’t know what he/she will do if I don’t listen to them.” So yeah. It’s to put that little bit of ‘extra pressure’ on the kid. Teaching the kid to be more discipline.

Of course, to some extent, to motivate the kid too. Cos the kid may want to do their tutor proud!

Yes, my kid made me crowd (: Very proud! From B to A* I think!

What tuition should NOT be about is….hoping to expose your kids more questions from all schools in Singapore so that they can score better. Seriously?

And enrichment classes. Don’t even get me started on that. I hated them as a kid and I always pity the kids I see on my way to dance classes every Saturday. Unless the kids asked to go for enrichment classes or show interests/talents in certain area, please, just let them have their childhood.

I hated the enrichment classes that I had to attend in Primary School. Especially creative writing classes. I’m like, “WHAT?!” Honestly! The only improvement I made was to start my composition with “One beautiful, sunny day…” instead of “One fine day…” Like that will get me more marks. Pfft.

Ultimately, parents, you need to know why you are sending your kids for tuition. And then try to communicate that reason to them. Help them strike a study-life balance (like work-life balance). If my mum didn’t communicate to me why I needed tuition in Secondary 1, I would have hated her and hated school. But because she told me why, I started to be more receptive to tuition and the stress was gone too.

On the side, I heard on Ch8 news that MOE is revising the policy about letting MOE teachers teach private tuition. Apparently, they might want to scrap it? Somehow, I think it’s a bad idea.

It’s already hard to recruit and retain teachers as it is. If we don’t allow teachers to teach private tuition, I think the situation will get worse. It’s undeniable that it’s very lucrative to teach private tuition. So, if you don’t allow teachers to earn abit of extra on the side, they will just quit and go into private tuition. More flexible timing, more lucrative and less paperwork.

But that’s just me.

Oh. My dad was quite cute. He was falling asleep in front of the TV but when he heard that teachers are giving private tuition, he went, “They got time meh?” HAHAHAH! Seeeeeeee!

It’s about trusting the teachers (: They are adults! We should trust that they are able to prioritise their commitments and trust that they know that their UTMOST responsibility is with the students in school.

Yup! (: I still think teachers are awesome! MOE or private. They are touching the lives of so many young ones out there!