The 2019 results were released this Thursday. We are pleased to announce that all our PSLE students surpassed our expectations. Their parents are generally pleased with their children’s results and have been generous with their kind words.
Why we are proud of our students and parents
We are proud of our students not just for their As, A*s and high PSLE scores but truly because they have good character and were cooperative, resilient and hardworking. Their parents took a leap of faith and trusted TSS with their children’s milestone exam. For that, we are very grateful. It is close to impossible for our children to do well unless there is a good and trusting relationship between the child, the parents and TSS.
Focusing on the learning journey yields results
Some parents become distressed when their children fail to score full marks. Others are disappointed when marks drop by 5 or even 1 mark. This kind of reaction can be very damaging to a child’s self esteem. When children are anxious and stressed, they underperform. It is the children who are confident and happy who do well.
We have to remember that education now is no longer what is used to be. The Singapore primary curriculum is one of the world’s best, and thus most challenging curriculums. Is it realistic for us to expect for our children’s exam scores to climb continuously, without a single blip along the way? There is always a drop at P3 and P5. This is simply because the jumps from P2 to P3 as well as from P4 to P5 are truly huge leaps. We need to give our children time to mature and adjust.
What we have noticed at TSS is that many high achieving students often have a mind of their own. They set extremely high standards for themselves. Setting high standards and goals is excellent but when a child feels defeated when his marks drop from 90% to 85%, we worry. Do we want a hardworking child to tie his/her self worth to every single exam mark? Surely, this must not good for the child’s psychological and mental health. One of our best students was constantly nervous and underperformed in his school exams. After many ‘casual’ pep talks about how exams are really not such a big deal and are man-made, his exam scores improved tremendously. Using reverse psychology and reducing self expectations and stress can do wonders.
Coming back to The Schooling Society…when our students’ marks drop, we ask ourselves, ‘Why? Could we have done better?’. Then, we see how we can help the child. More importantly, we encourage the child and focus on the steps that need to be taken to help him/her improve. This strategy works. All our students improve. The extent and speed at which they improve depends on their foundation and also their own effort. From day 1, we tell them that unless they are prepared to help themselves, no one else can help them. Teaching our students to take responsibility for themselves is very important. It is a positive mindset because it teaches children that they have control over their own lives. On the other hand, worrying about less-than-stellar results is a negative mindset that drains them.
Why the heart is so important in education
Many of us are parents. We want our children to do well but we also want them to be happy. Striking a fine balance is not easy. In order to help our children, we need to understand why exams are such a source of stress.
Exams per se are not the problem. The problem arises when students are under-taught and over-tested. This is the reason why many students underperform and end up terrified of exams. This is also why doing piles of assessment books may not yield results. Practising only works if the child has been taught adequately and understands what he/she is doing. One of the main purposes of exams is that they inform educators whether children understand what they have been taught. Thus, removing school exams at P3 and P5 is a mistake. Teachers now have less opportunity to help the children at an earlier stage. It is a fact. Removing school exams will increase PSLE stress.
At The Schooling Society, we focus on teaching and we deploy all means to engage and excite children so that learning becomes a fun and positive experience. Understanding and encouraging our students is equally, if not more important than teaching them specific skills. So far, this formula has worked.
For the many parents who continued to place their faith in us as their children’s grades dipped and soared, we are gratified that eventually all our P6 students improved to the best of their ability in this year’s national exams. Such an improvement in the students’ scores and morale show that we want to help children. It is simply not just about ‘business as usual’.
What message do we want to send to our children?
At TSS, we say that exams do not define who we are. It is well and good to aim for the sky but we are all worth much more than any exam score. What is more important is that children learn that consistent hard work, discipline and a curiosity to learn has a much more lasting impact on their own lives as well as on other people’s lives.
We tell our students that while everyone wants to be successful, not everyone is prepared to put in the hard work. Having the ability to self reflect and to have the desire to help oneself and others is a defining trait of any truly successful person. If our students eventually learn this, then what we have done is much more valuable than producing great grades.
Thank you for all your support, well wishes and heartfelt gifts.