Letter of the week #2: A PSLE setback may be a good time to teach resilience

A question from this year's Primary School Leaving Examination mathematics paper, according to pupils.
A question from this year's Primary School Leaving Examination mathematics paper, according to pupils.PHOTO: COURTESY OF STUDY ROOM, KIASUPARENTS FORUM

What caught my attention in the recent backlash over the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) mathematics paper was how the parents reacted ('Tough' PSLE maths paper draws flak from some parents, Oct 2).

For a 12-year-old who is unlikely to have many major setbacks in life, it is understandable that he may feel stressed or anxious after a difficult exam. However, it is how the parents help their children cope with this setback and the lessons they impart that truly matter.

In life, problems will crop up all the time and most of the time, they will not follow what the teachers teach in the syllabus. It is important that children learn to think critically and stay calm when faced with challenges. Even if they fail, they should learn to recover from their setbacks.

Interestingly, another story in the newspaper that day featured Mr Jeremy Lim, who has osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease (Brittle of bone but far from broken, Oct 2). He defied all the odds and completed a master's degree and is planning to pursue a PhD.

His resilience is laudable and he was quoted as saying: "The pain is inevitable, but the misery is optional."

The juxtaposition of both articles is stark. We cannot completely shield our children from adversities, but we can equip them with the right values and mindset to cope with them.

Parents of affected PSLE pupils should take this opportunity to teach their children a valuable life lesson. The resilience they inculcate in their children will benefit the young ones for the rest of their lives.

Shirong Cai (Dr)