Let kids find their own path, at their own pace

Thursday's report ("About 6% of students likely to not finish IP") goes to show that every child is unique and needs to be engaged differently.

Only 6 per cent of students drop out of the Integrated Programme (IP). Statistically, they may be considered insignificant outliers.

But with a small population, we should let every child develop to his fullest potential. We should sieve them out early, to reduce wastage.

Is the Primary School Leaving Examination a good predictor of academic success?

Maybe not. Many of us may have aced our spelling and dictation in primary school, but not all of us go on to ace our English language exam at the O levels. Why is this so?

I wonder if there is a disconnect in emphasis at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

A student may have clung on to knowledge dished out to him which yielded results in primary school, but find it inadequate in secondary school.

Much of the syllabus is defined up to the pre-university level.

At the tertiary level, where one is expected to be self-driven in acquiring knowledge on a subject, the same student may have to reorientate himself yet again from previous modes of learning.

Those who are slow to adapt may fall behind.

It is not uncommon to find that students who shine in universities had average grades in their formative years. Perhaps, at the tertiary level, they are motivated to do well in subjects they are interested in.

Some students respond well to structured learning while others thrive with little supervision.

This may also mean that some of us are predisposed to academic learning while others take to vocational training more naturally.

A competitive environment may motivate some students to excel. Those who fail to do so may languish amid competitive peers.

Perhaps, the best way to let a child learn at his own pace is to surround him with students more like himself - enough to nudge him on, but not kill his enthusiasm.

To switch tracks is not shameful. Parents should be mindful not to turn their children into "objects of grandeur" for parents' own sake.

Let our children find their place in the sun and at their own pace.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Let kids find their own path, at their own pace'. Print Edition | Subscribe