By the end of last year, the Ministry of Education had announced that the examinations throughout Primary One till Three will be abolished. After the announcement was made, a huge wave of reactions arose from the parents. Perhaps, it is because the public is so used to using examinations as a benchmark to monitor their children’s learning and to evaluate their learning abilities but without exams, parents would worry about their children lacking the need to work hard in learning and subsequently neglecting their studies.
Allow me to speak from my experiences. I have three children, all of whom are still studying. However, I take their exam results very lightly to heart.
I remembered when my daughter is in Primary One, she brought home her Moral Education paper home one day and one of the questions asked was: Which of the following are healthy activities? The four options were watching television, fishing, exercising, and playing electronic games. My daughter has deducted a point for that question as she only chose the option of ‘exercising’ while the standard answer was ‘exercising’ and ‘fishing’ just because the textbook says that ‘fishing’ is a form of healthy activity.
I asked her, why not choose the ‘fishing’ option? She replied that is because fishing kills lives. When she was young, my daughter studied in a Buddhist kindergarten and the teachers taught the children not to take lives and to love animals. Because she has the heart to protect animals, hence she feels that fishing is an unhealthy activity. Since then, I am not obsessed with my children’s exam results. If I am obsessed with it, then my children will study for the marks given and this is not the outcome I desire.
Hence, this mark deducted from my daughter makes me happy because it showed that she has her own thoughts.
Are test scores or the ability to think independently important? If you are just like me, choosing the latter, then as parents, we naturally have to possess the ability to think independently in order to nurture children who are able to do so. Now, let us think. What is the purpose we send our children to school and exams? What kind of education should we provide our children as the responsibility of parents? Many parents send their children to tuition in order to improve their test scores. This reflects the fact that many parents use scores to determine whether a child is excellent or poor, and scores are compared to other children to see who is better. Hence, what is the purpose of the exams?
For me, the function of the exam is to test what the child has learned and what knowledge is not yet mastered. I wonder if everyone agrees? If this is the purpose of the test, when the results are released, we do not solve the part that the child doesn’t understand. Instead, we continue to ask the child to learn new knowledge to cope with the next test, subsequently in the next round of exams, they will continue to fail, and the child will continue to accept the information that they don’t understand and this does not help the child at all.
Many parents will complain that the system run by the Ministry of Education has been changing, and the children are unable to catch up. Instead of complaining, why not think about what we can do to improve our children’s learning status? I have always shared this with many parents: If you send your child to a government school, when the child returns home, we will turn the family into an international school. We cannot change the education system or the school environment, but we have the ability and obligation to improve our children’s learning environment.
I will share the way I teach my children to learn. All three of my children study in Chinese primary schools. When they got home, I would not keep reviewing what the school taught them, or ask them to recite textbook knowledge, etc. Instead, I would observe which part of the child is stronger and weaker. My younger son is better Chinese because I taught him to recognise words from a young age, but his mathematics is not so good. In his primary two, he began to have problems with multiplication and division, and his other mathematical skills were also weak. Thus, I will first re-do the primary one practice questions for him, so that he can stabilize the foundation that he did not master in the first year. After establishing the foundation step by step, he will start to catch up two primary two’s syllabus.
As long as we use the right method, children’s learning can actually become relaxed and stress-free. The most important thing is to find out the “equation of learning”. This equation is to find out where the weaker part of the child is, to solve the basic root problems instead of forcing the child to repeatedly recite textbook knowledge blindly. If we recognize and see this as a parent, no matter how the Ministry of Education changes, no matter how much we disagree with the exams, the teacher’s teaching methods, but when our children return home, we can all do our best to give them the most effective learning environment.
In fact, have you ever thought that some of the knowledge in the textbooks and the teachers taught by the school may be out of date and not in line with the needs of modern society? That being the case, why do we have to force our children to memorize deadly all the textbook content? I think that as long as the children can get 80 points, but instead of urging them to try to get 20 more points, it is better to use this effort to encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities, allowing them to participate in group activities, come in contact with nature, and know more about what is happening in the world.
If every child reads and recites textbook knowledge just for the exam, they will never want to learn again when they grow up. All of us should be lifelong learners, so it is important to instil the learning ability and interest of children. If parents are able to accept such a concept, children will be happier because they will love learning. Learning passionately is not just to learn the content of textbooks, but to be curious about all aspects of knowledge, to love challenges, to leave the comfort zone to accept new methods and knowledge and this is the psychological qualities we hope children have.
If we change from ourselves and take the “exam” out, and focus on the child’s growth, and what the child will become, we will have more time and space to bring our children to truly understand the society and the world. Many children today don’t know how to interact with others. The role that they should play in society is unknown as they only know how to study. Parents just let their children study at home while the children don’t help with housework and have no interaction with their parents. When children grow up in such an environment, I actually feel saddened. Only when we allow the children pay less attention to the exam, participate in extracurricular activities from an early age, learn how to lead, how to cooperate with the team, cultivate good morals, learn how to accept failure… These can really help the children to have the ability to live in the future. Paying more attention to the development of the children’s body and soul will definitely make the children a better version of themselves.
I hope that after listening to some of my thoughts, I will help you to let go of some obsessions about the “examination” and redefine the direction to educate the children.
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