I read Ms Lim Shu Ning's letter ("No way to assess character objectively", last Wednesday) with interest.
The Direct School Admission scheme may be broadened to consider qualities like character and leadership.
While pupils should be educated in moral values and character (as covered in subjects like moral education and social studies), to include them as a means of consideration to gain entry to top secondary schools might create problems.
The evaluation of subjective character traits in 12-year-olds is itself problematic. Are there tangible ways to measure which children possess better moral character than the others?
How does one measure a broad, multi-faceted subject like character? As human beings, children are individuals, different and special in their own ways. Who, among us, should judge which traits are more desirable than others? To distinguish among pupils, teachers may look out for more perceptible qualities, such as being outspoken. This may penalise good but quieter pupils whose virtues like possessing inner strength might not be easily noticed.
A system drives a person's behaviour. If the system emphasises traits like leadership, everyone will vie for leadership positions.
Yet, while we need leaders in society, we also need good team players to get things done. Being a team member does not necessarily mean possessing less desirable traits than the leader.
It is suggested that a pupil's character evaluation might be dependent on teachers' referrals.
All teachers and principals want their pupils to enter top schools as this will influence their school's reputation.
Among a multitude of good testimonials, how should one decide whose testimonials are more reliable, particularly on subjective character traits? Would one be inclined to think testimonials of pupils from popular primary schools are more valuable?
Teachers now work under greater pressure and longer hours.
The role of writing testimonials that directly influence a pupil's chance of entering a good school can be critical and demanding.
With more well-educated and outspoken parents today, would teachers not inadvertently feel the pressure to write favourable testimonials for their pupils?
In situations where parents are active volunteers in school or are rich and influential, would it incur an unstated obligation or pressure to some extent?
If a pupil's character is indeed dependent on a teacher's testimonial, would some parents find avenues to volunteer their service in the hope of winning some favour for their children?
Teo Hwee Leng (Ms)
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