Focus on learning strategy rather than blame

 A pupil's mastering of the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic is dependent on the child, the teacher and the home environment
A pupil's mastering of the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic is dependent on the child, the teacher and the home environmentPHOTO: ST FILE

It is not true that if parents try, they will always be able to find the time to read with their children and be actively involved in their education, as Ms Lenny Rahman presupposes (Who should teach kids to read: Teachers or parents?; Jan 28).

While the teaching profession is limited by school hours, perhaps 7am to 5pm, a substantial proportion of people have far longer working hours. When these people return home exhausted, they may have only an hour or two of quality time with their children, who may grow to hate it if this precious time is consumed by talk of academic subjects and books.

A pupil's mastering of the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic is dependent on the child, the teacher and the home environment, and no single party can be absolved of any blame should there be any failures.

We have to acknowledge that some children just don't possess a high logical-mathematical or linguistic intelligence. Nevertheless, sheer hard work and determination can most of the time make up for what nature has not endowed, crushing poverty or social inequalities notwithstanding. The majority of successful students belong to this category, especially when supportive parents extol the virtues of learning and emphasise the importance of a good education.

If a child is indolent, preoccupied with video games, shuns self-improvement and resorts to excuses of poor parenting or inadequate teaching for failure, it is clear who the fault lies with.

But where the child is keen and still failing, perhaps the system should focus on a child's other areas of intelligence.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'Focus on learning strategy rather than blame'. Print Edition | Subscribe