A brilliant mind doesn't make a whole person

Our system has long emphasised grades and scholarship. We have been brought up to be competitive and celebrate the brilliant. We hold such people in awe because not all of us are exceptional.

But have we gone overboard in training the mind and scoff at anything that is not measurable?

Brilliance of the mind does not make one whole. The world is not a neat black and white.

Oftentimes, we have to exercise judgment in doing the right thing, not just what is right by us. It calls for moral decisions to be made, and that is the hard part.

Morals are no less important in making a person whole. Values are subjective and may take a lifetime to learn.

Because morals and values are less measurable, it is harder to teach them and see results. Against a result-oriented system such as ours, have we inadvertently neglected this essential part of making us whole?

But start we must and start them young, lest we become stoic and celebrate "self" above all else. Let us think of the larger good and ask ourselves - is winning everything?

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'A brilliant mind doesn't make a whole person'. Print Edition | Subscribe