The true purpose of education

SINGAPORE - My son is taking his Primary School Leaving Examination this year. As he battled the stress, I had a talk with him to encourage him.

I told him that education is a process to prepare him for the real world. There is no failure as far as the exam results are concerned; you do your best and the journey continues.

I speak from experience as I repeated my A levels, and my sibling took eight years to complete his part-time graduate course after failing many times.

This journey would allow my son to experience, nurture and expand his skills for the sake of understanding three larger categories of skills - life skills, emotional skills and mental skills.

Life skills are about respecting authority, team work, solo work, time management, forging friendships and handling money.

Emotional skills are about handling and moving on after successes and failures, building the foundations of self-control, delayed gratification, grit and perseverance to finish what was started and to finish it well.

Mental skills help one become a resourceful person, as well as develop a habit of reading, a hunger to discover and a sensible mind.

I emphasised to my son the need for grit - to be able to dash the last stretch in a marathon, to climb that hill and plant the flag, and to put the finishing touches to a project to make it admissible. It is a sorely needed skill and needs to be built over time and integrated into our daily activities.

How does one build this skill, my son asked?

A person needs to develop a healthy self-outlook and believe that how he carries out his affairs and who he is as a person are inextricably intertwined.

He needs to be clear on the purpose of his actions and his life. His actions should be of benefit to his family and society.

My own journey was kick-started when I entered the education system, but did not end when I left university. I am still building and rebuilding where needed as I continue on the journey of life.

Law Khin Choy

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