Let us Work on Helping our Children Down the Path of Holistic Learning: Experiential and Discovery-like

Today our focus on our children’s educational direction cannot come from the traditional mindset that it should still aim at grades and academic results. On the side of the Ministry of Education, one can see the likes of change but the resistance to the acceptance of reform from the public still lingers. Sterling results ought to get our next generation a guarantee of better jobs and wider choices of vocation, hence a more stable future, ought not?

Today’s world demand much more than the academia or the narrow look at just school-based subjects or more worrying, at the curriculum covered from mere texts or within school term coverage. Their proficiency in the mastery of that limited syllabus taught in class and demonstrated through excellent results does not mean they then can handle 21st century skills in the much more needed areas such as creativity and imagination, analytical and critical thinking and set ethos like teamwork and leadership.

So MOE in trying to loosen the tight reins of primary school grading through its countless exams and the path of streaming for the common good of our children, is going down the path of subject-based banding with its closer similarity to secondary school grading. Hence we will not be branding a pupil as an express or normal stream (academic/technical) student which could seem a relief for parents at first. But no, there is still now the fear of our kid ending up doing a subject at Foundational level.

Why cannot we look on the brighter side? Focus on our children’s talents and interests. Recognize if they should fall behind in one paper or two they now are still able to do the other subjects at their well-deserved higher levels. Celebrate this new direction of our children being graded on their own merits and learning in the respective classes where they hopefully can participate successfully in each of their bands.

What more, Direct School Admission (DSA) has reverted to looking for potential students on their own achievements and talents in the area of sports and the arts. So let us rejoice in our kids discovering their strengths and interests, and learning at a pace suited for them while affirming their aptitude and competency.

As an educator, I am for encouraging our students to grow and develop holistically and to be spending more time discovering and meaningfully experiencing what they are learning versus hashing out repetitive answers expected of the past-year questions in order to prove they are good students. They may look like they have hit the nail on the head in one assessment with a near perfect score but is it not better to knowing our child has understood a particular concept, embraced it and is building upon it and hence is taking it in much more than the narrow syllabus and limited time can offer.

Let us rethink our concerns. What kind of backup education would help make earth- shakers and forward-thinking inventers? How do we really want our children to learn?

To take a quote from the renowned Steve Jobs:

 “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.