Nothing wrong with being average

Pupils should not be attending tuition classes to help them prepare for their Gifted Education Programme (GEP) test ("Poser: Should gifted pupils go for tuition?"; Thursday).

These pupils are supposed to be gifted academically, and it makes no sense to send them for tuition to ace the test.

After all, as Associate Professor Burton Ong said in the report, the GEP was meant to "stretch kids and introduce them to the joys of learning" and to ensure that they will be constantly challenged academically instead of feeling bored if they had remained in the non-GEP system.

But what is more worrying is the mentality of parents in charting their children's education. I am concerned with their obsession to ensure that their children are enrolled in the best schools and in the best programmes, and that they score all As for their exams.

Parents need to realise that children have different strengths. Not everyone can be academically gifted, just like not everyone can be gifted in music, sports or art. Some children have strengths in other areas.

This focus on pure academics, I fear, can make these children overly stressed at a young age and, as a result, cause them to have an unhappy childhood, with possible side effects in the future.

Pushing children into something they are not equipped nor capable to handle can easily backfire and cause even more damage.

Even if the child has no real gifts that will make him exceptional, there is nothing wrong with being average.

Not everyone can be a Steve Jobs or a Rhodes Scholar, and that is all right. As long as the child is able to live a life that he wants, contributing to society one way or another, and is happy about it, there is nothing wrong with being just average.

-Han Ming Guang

This article was first published on November 8, 2014.
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