Society still fixated on exams and marks

The discussion on exams, on both social and mainstream media, is troubling because it appears to be asking the wrong question - as seen in the Home section headline on Jan 14 ("'How can 97 marks be not good enough?'").

Surely, there are more important issues to discuss than examination scores for seven-year-olds.

The broader question we should be asking is this: Is it really necessary to stream pupils when they are only seven?

First, it reflects the psyche of a society bent on chasing that last point and encouraging it.

This clearly runs contrary to what the Government is trying to advocate.

Second, what kind of message is being sent to the young and their parents?

Do we want our children to achieve perfect scores in every examination or do we want them to enjoy growing up, learn life skills, innovate and explore?

The broader question we should be asking is this: Is it really necessary to stream pupils when they are only seven? ...It reflects the psyche of a society bent on chasing that last point and encouraging it.

What will be more important for the nation in future?

Policy changes at the highest level are not sufficient.

Our young take their cue from discussions on how society defines success.

Kam Zhihao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'Society still fixated on exams and marks'. Print Edition | Subscribe