I remembered going to art and abacus classes in my younger years, of which both I enjoyed thoroughly and found useful throughout my education. It was stress free and somehow encouraged my competitiveness in the positive manner. But when I do think about it, other children around me too had many lessons scheduled for them. Perhaps some were talented, or perhaps their parents simply wished to give them the best. I remembered a classmate who was in my art class. She had ballet, swimming and piano lessons over the weekend apart from enrichment lessons.

Few years back, I remember finding some old assessment books, of which most were empty. I was a kid who grew up with assessment books. Piles and piles of assessment books and maybe that did helped in some way because I was lucky to grow up without tuition.

Back in the days when streaming still existed, I can recall how it was stressful for all of us who were in Primary 3. The anxiety of being at my seat, waiting for my name to be called out as all my good buddies were streamed into EM1. I remembered faintly how thankful I was when I heard my name being called out the last. Back then, while I know the importance of grades because of the emphasis placed by adults, my concern  was not so much of being in best class but rather, I wanted to be with my friends, who happened to go the best class. I didn’t want to be the odd one out. Yes, the odd one out. Funny how these thoughts can come to a 9 year old. It was clear that the agenda of a child and adult was different.

While I agree that knowledge can bring you further, when is it time to stop loading?

These days, nothing much has changed, streaming is abolished in some sense. As for the children these days, they have so many lessons arranged for them, be it in school or out of school. Sometimes it seems as though everyday is a school day for them. Not that lessons are bad, but the question that arises is “Do they need them?”. Whilst parents are eager to make sure their children can perform on par with others, are able to mingle, sometimes I wonder if the haste of preparing for society will cause distress to the kids. Do children still get their own time; being children, having fun without the term ‘educational’? Or is everything they do, a preparation for the unknown future.

There is no child that wants to fail.

Children always want to show their achievements and are eager to please. Instead, it is us adults who are setting the benchmarks. Personally, I find myself receptive only when I am enjoying myself. As a child, I felt bad when I had ‘under-performed’. Not because I was berated, but it had become such a norm that there was a benchmark instilled, that the mental awareness was there. The benchmark was a 75 in case you are wondering, and anything below a 70 was labelled ‘bad’. Even as an adult now, I do not want to fail in anything. It is innate that we all want to perform the best we can in things that we put our effort in.

Children should be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think – Margaret Mead

Children think differently from adults, and parents may not always be able to identify the problem. It is easy to dismiss learning disabilities by assuming they are behavioural issues. Loading more classes to ‘refine’ their abilities may not be the wisest thing to do, if parents do not know where the problem lies. Perhaps, it is better to look deeper to see the underlying cause instead of targeting surface issues.