SINGAPORE - I have three children, whose Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scores ranged from 230 to 281.
When our eldest child scored 281, my wife and I did not stress ourselves to ensure that the younger two would emulate their older brother.
This is because we realise that children are not born the same. And if all parents were to adopt this mindset, the stress level would be greatly moderated.
It is futile to force the issue - if a child is not academically inclined, no amount of pushing would change the status.
I find it incredible that parents take leave from work to coach and/or provide moral support to their children during the PSLE.
Most schools start preparing pupils for the PSLE from as early as Primary 5. So if the pupils are not up to it by the time the PSLE approaches, they simply are not. No amount of parental help at this point will make a difference.
Basically, the stress is created by parents.
In many cases, they are more anxious than their children. It is as if they are the ones sitting the examinations. Ironically, good pupils will do well despite the stress, and poor pupils will fare badly despite the lack of it.
Hence, no amount of tweaking the PSLE scoring system will lessen the stress. As long as there is a score and if it cannot be dispensed with, the stress will remain.
In fact, the introduction of subjective assessment elements will heighten the stress. The only way to lessen it is not to divulge the scores, as was the case during my time. We were none the worse off for it.
In any case, what is wrong with stress? It serves to raise a people who are hardy, resilient and have perseverance.
Stress can bring out the best in individuals if properly managed.
Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan
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