Don't bury talent under focus on grades

Academic success should not be narrowly defined by a student's school and his academic results and achievements ("Sec 1 postings: Harder to switch schools"; Dec 29, 2015).

The end point of education should be about producing a moral, responsible, productive and useful person who knows how to work with others to address social injustice and transform the world for good.

In this regard, it bodes well to remember that every student has a unique personality along with a set of talents and interests. Together, they can form strengths and advantages to propel the student to achieve more sustainable success.

Therefore, we should help him develop his strengths and pursue positive passions, values and aspirations. By helping him to expand his potential and leverage his strengths, he is in a better position to contribute to society and find personal satisfaction and fulfilment.

Sadly, the educational focus of many parents and educators is still predominantly on helping students do well in standardised tests, based mainly on intellectual knowledge and abilities.

In the name of meritocracy, they sometimes lean towards a system that is examination-centric.

Grades have become a major basis for assessing educational outcomes and academic results.

As a result, many of our students have not been able to identify and develop their distinctive strengths.

For some, they have been cruelly deceived to believe that they are lesser than what they really are; that they cannot go far and do well in their lives.

Like an undiscovered diamond, they are covered by layer after layer of lies, half-truths and misinformation. Their giftedness remains buried deep underneath ignorance and apathy.

In the next stage of our educational development, I trust that we will look at educational outcomes and results from the angle of multiple intelligences and not just intellectual intelligence.

We need to develop our students in a more holistic, balanced and practical way.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'Don't bury talent under focus on grades'. Print Edition | Subscribe