Teach children not to be defined by labels

We should recognise that beyond streaming, there are countless other invisible labels, such as "rich" and "poor.
We should recognise that beyond streaming, there are countless other invisible labels, such as "rich" and "poor.PHOTO: ST FILE

In explaining why streaming is being phased out, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that "entering a stream that is considered 'lower' can carry a certain stigma that becomes fulfilling or self-limiting" (Subject-based banding to replace streaming in schools, March 6).

There are certainly merits to replacing streaming.

However, we should recognise that beyond streaming, there are countless other invisible labels, such as "rich" and "poor", that carry stigma that can do as much, if not more, damage to young people. This problem is exacerbated in today's world with the widespread labelling of individuals on social media.

Even as we try to reduce stigma, let us also teach our children to be resilient - that whatever unfavourable situation or circumstances they find themselves in, these do not define them and they have the power to change things for the better.

Even as we try to reduce stigma, let us also teach our children to be resilient - that whatever unfavourable situation or circumstances they find themselves in, these do not define them and they have the power to change things for the better.

My fear is that if we try to shield our children from hard truths, we will raise a generation of "strawberries", who crumble easily and shy away from the responsibilities and roadblocks that are part and parcel of life.

Pan Jiahe

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'Teach children not to be defined by labels'. Print Edition | Subscribe