Aceing Asians not that smart

Sunday July 1, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/7/1/education/11562298&sec=education

By LEONG ZUE WEI

A’S ARE not everything. Typical of the Asian community is the great deal of pressure placed on the younger generation to achieve academic success.

This sort of culture is counter-productive to the development of the younger generation as it stymies their self-discovery and muddles their life experiences.

Young people can reach a point where they cannot cope with the chronic stress of trying to measure up to the high expectations of society, their parents or themselves, as seen in the tragic suicide of 12-year-old Subashini Sivakumar of Sungai Jawi, Penang, who killed herself over her UPSR examination results.

Something must be done to change the present mindset which equates academic achievement with success in life.

Children should not be made to measure or base their self-worth on grades and certificates, or compare their academic performance with their peers. A healthy mental state and positive outlook on life are just as important as academic success.

Children do not need to know the definition of education, but that it is important in helping them gain and apply knowledge and understanding. They should be taught that education itself is not the key to life, but instead the key to appreciating and celebrating life in all its glory.

The current method of assessing Malaysian students only tests their ability to cram and memorise large chunks of texts and formulas.

Students sitting for examinations learn by rote and their temporary retention of knowledge allows them to beat the system.

In order to create a more productive and less stressful environment for learning, exams should be abolished and monthly assessment of skills and knowledge should be considered, to gauge students’ overall progress.

Furthermore, the practice of force-feeding students information, facts and figures should be stopped.

Punishment for getting bad grades should also be discouraged, especially among teenagers. Instead, an incentive or reward could be offered to inspire, not squeeze, good results from students.

Research shows that successful people do not depend on luck or other people, but on their own determination and desire to succeed. Asian youths should not allow academic success to rule their lives. Life is so much more than passing exams with flying colours.

There is no doubt that education enhances one’s quality of life, but so do things like art, love, nature, sports, and music.

Malaysia has yet to reach a mature level of thinking with regards to education. But with the hi-tech revolution allowing our voices to be heard, there is great potential for reform.

Empathy and logic are needed to improve the Malaysian education system to protect the well-being and fragile emotional states of the young and vulnerable.

The writer is a Year 10 student at an international school here.