PSLE in the game of life

Around this time last year, I wrote the post “Your PSLE score does not define you” to encourage disappointed kids. So many kids (and parents) were depressed with their results; I wanted to encourage them to look beyond this one metric.

Unexpectedly, it became one of my most widely shared posts. I suppose it struck a chord.

Looking back, I felt that I should perhaps add on to it.

As before, I’d say that no child should feel defeated because his/her PSLE score was not what he/she expected. It is just one exam in a life full of exams (oops :/). Beyond one’s years of school, there are innumerable hurdles to clear in life, each one more significant than the last in determining one’s future.

Not doing well at one of the first few exams (at age 12) does not doom you to a blighted life forevermore.

Because this is just the beginning.

Because this is just the beginning.

Of course the PSLE result has bearings on what secondary school one goes to, and of course getting 190 when you were expecting 230, is catastrophic in some sense. And of course studying hard for the PSLE is important in that we should not expect to sail blithely through exams without putting in any effort.

But my post was targeted at those who feel that their whole world has come crashing down when they got 260 instead of 275. Or just one mark shy of the cut-off for that ‘dream school’ (cue manic appeal process). Sure, it is disappointing, but life is full of disappointments, and if you allow the first few disappointments to crush your spirit, then life is going to be really quite miserable.

For the most part, I think we parents need to stop foisting all our unfulfilled dreams onto our kids. It is unfair, and adds incredible stress on young shoulders.

Sure, we all want our children to work hard and fulfill their potential. But there is really a thin line between that, and being the psycho parent who grades themselves based on their kid’s success. Don’t do it. Please.

You have your life. Your kid has theirs.

I suppose a saner middle path is to set a personal goal tailored for your child’s aptitude and potential. Instead of always needing to be better than him and her (and that other person too).

Yes, we are all graded on a bell-curve (in academia as well as at work), and thus comparison is inevitable.

But is it possible to say that I am aiming for my child to be self-motivated, to work hard and produce the best results he or she can, never mind how Mrs Tan’s son does? And to commit resources and time to helping my child gain that desire to do well for himself, to maximise his potential, instead of having to do better than so-and-so?

Because ultimately, if the aim of the parent is for the child to get a high-paying job with a meteoric career path, academics are only a fraction of the pre-requisites. Sure, you need good results to get into a good course of study, and good results from that to land interviews in the most competitive industries. So try your best. But there’s no point in getting an anxiety disorder in the course of trying to achieve 98% your entire life because good results can only bring you so far.

Thereafter, it’s all about your work smarts, baby.

Of which EQ plays just as important a role, if not more important, than IQ. Because if you can’t work with others, you can’t work well, period. The extent of that differs from job to job, but ultimately those whom I’ve seen ‘succeed’, have brilliant EQ as well as IQ (latter is probably more a result of genetics than mugging?). And those with better EQ easily outstrip those with higher IQ but really low EQ.

So if you didn’t do as well as  you expected in the PSLE, fret not. Work hard on exploring general knowledge topics, understanding currently non-examinable subjects such as motivation, religion, politics. Develop yourself in all ways possible. Find an interest and pursue it to its furthest end (if your interest is exams then I have nothing else to say to you :P). Get involved in team sports or community activities. You will find that these will probably help you more in the future workplace, as compared to having gotten that full slate of A-stars or Band Ones.

Because there are real stars in the galaxy to explore, instead of fixating on an asterisk on a piece of paper.

 

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