Thursday, March 18, 2010

Irksome letters

Distinction - the quality of being excellent , Cambridge Dictionary. It is sad to see that the day has come when getting a distinction no longer cuts it. We need to throw in the word SUPER for it to have more import, such is our self-esteem. 

This is going to be a long ranty post so if you're not in the mood for verbal diarrhea then here's a friendly advice to stop reading after this sentence.

I've bitten my tongue and kept my silence for far too long on this subject. You see, when I first heard about the change in the grading system for the SPM examinations, I thought my friend was joking because the entire notion of the change was absurd. If you don't know what I'm referring to, go here.

I mean, seriously, Super Distinction? Do we need that? Do we need students to have Super Distinctions in Pendidikan Moral but zero civic consciousness? Do we need students with Super Distinctions in Science and Math but care naught for cutting down on greenhouse gases or to find out more about green technologies and energy conservation? One wonders if this preoccupation for keeping up the best of appearances, showing off the best, unblemished cert and diploma, if this obsession with being kiasu is only an Asian thing. I once read a report on how developing nations were blamed for causing the most pollution in their quest to join the big players, due to their lower standards of awareness and sadly, education and it is sad that I can't stand up and offer a defense, because how does one fight the truth? 

We don't lack an excellent grading system, we lack a proper, holistic education. We need an education that encompasses an appreciation for World History, that the present generation will learn from the mistakes and be inspired by the triumphs of past generations , not a few chapters you memorize in your Sejarah textbooks. We need an education where children realize the importance of being Environmental Friendly, not merely taking part in campaigns to earn credits, all with the goal of obtaining a scholarship at the end of the day. We need an education where science and maths and art and literature all meld into a burning fireball of passion.

I know of parents who start off conversations with how well their children are doing in school, how many As they're getting and how many top schools are pining for their acceptance. To be proud of one's achievement is one thing, to motivate and encourage, a laudable course of action. Outright bragging on the other hand garners zero respect. After a while, all this marked lack of humility gets sickening. 

There is this new product in the market, a magic pen-like device that is able to 'read' out books for little children. It is sad to note that some parents these days no longer have the time to sit down and read with their children, choosing instead to delegate the 'chore' to flat, emotionless robotic voices. 

If I ever have a child, I would never want him or her to grow up thinking that an A- is lesser than an A and an A, lesser than an A+. Or for that matter that a B or even a C is a grade that's unworthy of praise and respect. I've seen people who start off with failing grades in English, who can hardly string together a coherent sentence in the language but with dedication and pure effort they finally grasp the language, and when they do speak in English, they speak it with a pride that none of us 'English educated' people will ever possess. It is them that I admire and take my hat off for, because at the end of the day what matters most is that you've given any task you pick up your utmost best, and you've garnered experiences and knowledge that will last you a lifetime.

Disclaimer : I'm not running down students with straight As, if they've worked hard for it, they deserve all due credit . It is just the misconception of 'success' that irks me so. Many of the world's greatest men got where they are today based on hard work, diligence and the right attitude, not a piece of paper. 


smallkucing said...

the next one they come out with will be Super Duper Wowser Distinction

suituapui said...

Ah!!! Inspired by my post? Hehehehehe!!!! Ya...A+ for English and can hardly utter a word! Lots of them!

owl_order said...

hear, hear!

i totally second your "science and environmental friendliness" thingy. i suck at biology but is still greener at heart than many top scorers out there.

study not for the results, study for the knowledge!

ladyviral said...

We should never pressue the kids to score high! Eventually I remember during my school days, I have a friend who was pressured by her family score A's and when she got a B she went insane... broek down in school... and eventually ended her life before she went home that day because she was too afraid to go home.

It was really a misreable story. So I just never think of pressuring the chilren if I ever have kids.

Joanna said...

Kathy : LOL. Possible, though that would be hard to say in one breath.. i.e "I'm a straight Super Duper Wowser Distinction student !"

STP : Hahaha ! YUP! Got inspired after dropping by your blog :P

WenQi : hehe. I guess living in the UK has made you a lot more greener too on top of that ! :)

Ladyviral : Oh boy, it's so sad to hear about your friend. So so so very tragic ... children should never be pressured. It takes all the fun out of learning...

zhen yuan said...

haha..the utter hilarity. i can't wait them come up with something like, Super Pass or even Super Fail for that sake..

Jovenus said...

I have been reading most of your recent posts and concede with most if not all of them. Especially this one. I felt my menta development was delayed by the Malaysian education system. If I were to go on another system I would have gotten the edge to achieve great feats (wishful thinking)

Why don't you come over to UK, marry a prince and have plenty of princelings who enjoy a more holistic education? (only if you can stop them from involving with drugs, early sex and violence :) )