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Too much attention on school work and too much pressure have produced young adults who just cannot cope with the real world. -- NSTP Archive

I REFER to NST Leader “High on marks, low on life” (NST, July 5).

It makes interesting reading. It’s sad but true, that’s the way school life is for most students these days.

It is not an Asian phenomenon, it’s also prevalent in the Western world. I’ve worked as a teacher in Asia and New Zealand, and it appears that in today’s competitive world, students are pushed to the limits to succeed.

Parents have the best interests of their children and they understandably want the very best in their education and careers.

The problem is the way these parents go about giving the best for their children so that they can achieve whatever they potentially can.

However, for some parents, their children have become an extension of themselves. These parents want their children to achieve what they did not achieve or did not have the opportunity to do so.

Hence, they push their children to be high achievers in studies and careers.

I’ve had parents come to school on Careers Day and say things like “this is my son and I want him to be a lawyer”.

There doesn’t appear to be any consideration as to what the son really wants to do. If parents push their children into doing what they don’t want to do, they get demotivated.

Some feel they are failures because they are not able to live up to their parents’ expectations. This can have far-reaching repercussions on the children’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

Each child is different; as parents we should encourage
and support each child to achieve what he is capable of and, more importantly, what he’s interested in.

Real success is having a fulfilling job based on personal interest and talent. We should not force upon our children our ambitions or to fulfil our dreams.

I have seen so much of talent in art and music going to waste as today’s children are forced to spend their time and effort on academic subjects. The current education system is not helping either.

There’s too much emphasis on examinations and competition — they have taken the fun out of learning.

In some countries like New Zealand, they have stopped having ceremonies to award children who are successful in their studies. The rationale is that they have a negative impact on the less academically inclined students. Schools in New Zealand have introduced life skills
subjects such as gardening, cooking and budgeting so that students get a well-rounded education.

Education for every child is important, but real education is beyond the classroom and exams. Both parents and schools must teach and encourage students to be motivated, self-confident and succeed in whatever areas they are interested in so they have meaningful careers.


Auckland, New Zealand

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