ST journalist urges parents not to just chase grades

Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie speaking to 180 people at a talk at the National Library yesterday, under the askST@NLB series.
Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie speaking to 180 people at a talk at the National Library yesterday, under the askST@NLB series.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Let kids develop their own skills, abilities, be exposed to varied experiences, she advises

Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie yesterday urged parents to let their children develop their own skills and abilities, instead of just chase grades.

Ms Davie was speaking to 180 people at a talk at the National Library yesterday. A video of the talk on the Rings.tv app has been viewed 942 times.

Ms Davie highlighted recent changes by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which included cutting down on school exams, removing class and school rankings from student report cards, changes to the Direct School Admission (DSA) system as well as aptitude-based admissions to post-secondary institutions and universities.

“Some parents complain that the only constant in education is change,” said Ms Davie.

But the changes MOE is making, Ms Davie said, are good.

Some of the MOE changes are aimed at encouraging schools, teachers, students and parents to move away from focusing too much on examinations and grades, and to help students to discover the joy of learning.

A centralised system to streamline the DSA process, for instance, will let the system look at the innate ability of students, rather than awards.

"It is not a good thing to just aim for Integrated Programme schools," Ms Davie told the audience.

"Parents have their own fears that their children will lose out, with some tuition centres even teaching kids curriculum one year ahead to stay ahead of the cohort.

"I don't think this is a healthy trend. But students should be given the room to develop their own skills, and abilities."

Ms Davie responded to questions from concerned parents, on the changes to the DSA process, and how, going forward, student needs could be better addressed.

Ms Davie said that it was important to develop 21st century competencies and soft skills, and for students to be exposed to a wide variety of experiences to find out what they are interested in.

This, she said, was more important than the paper chase for grades and other academic achievements.

"We want people who are passionate in what they do," Ms Davie said. "For example, you don't want a doctor who isn't interested in medicine to be operating on you."

The talk was part of the askST@NLB series, a collaboration between The Straits Times (ST) and the National Library Board.

The next talk will be held on Jan 25, on the top 10 travel experiences for next year. It will be hosted by travel correspondent Lee Siew Hua.

A video of Ms Davie's talk can be viewed and replayed via the Rings.tv app, which can be downloaded via the Apple or Google Play store.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'ST journalist urges parents not to just chase grades'. Print Edition | Subscribe