Fear of failure causing stress in our society

Having taught primary and secondary school students as a private tutor for 17 years, I cannot agree more with the River Valley High School student that exams teach us to study independently, which will be useful for work in the future (MOE taking steps to 'loosen up' education to reduce stress, says Ong Ye Kung; May 30).

It is commendable that he takes tests as opportunities to do better the next time.

I welcome the steps taken by the Ministry of Education to introduce more flexibility to our rigid education system that seeks to measure success based on academic results. Although lower primary pupils have no examinations till the end of Primary 2, they still have many bite-sized tests.

The fear of failure is the cause of stress in our society. Many students today dare not even try. They are terrified if they do not do well in tests, as if academic success determines their destiny.

Many students lack perseverance but expect instant gratification. They expect to be spoon-fed the answers to tests because we have been spoon-feeding them all this while.

For too long, we have emphasised certificates above character, knowledge above lifelong learning and efficiency above values.

Successful people take personal responsibility for their learning and take pride in their work.

We need to regain that tenacity in life and pass it on to the younger generation. Let us not limit their growth by determining the kinds of stress they can or cannot take.

Ho Lay Ping (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2018, with the headline 'Fear of failure causing stress in our society'. Print Edition | Subscribe