Do You Fear Your Children Missing Out?

Dear Parents,

Do you ever fear your child missing out?

Do you compare what classes your child is attending to his or her peers?

Do you constantly worry about how they fare relative to their peers- the grades they get and their strengths and weaknesses?

It is only natural and in our society, it is easy to get caught up in the rat race in this competitive society and expect more and more out of our children.

Attending an international education conference and visiting two elementary schools in Hawaii gave me a broader perspective on what our children might be missing out in the Singaporean education system.

I observed that the children in Hawaii love going to school, encouraged to pursue their own interests. One of the schools, Hanahauoli Elementary School (a primary school), encourages independent learning and encourages their students to set their own goals in their own portfolios.

With the beautiful faces of Hawaii!

These portfolios were monitored closely by the teachers who worked with them on a personal level to close their learning gaps.

The environments in these schools were welcoming and artistic, encouraging creativity and self-expression.

Display of student’s works!

I also learned about other education systems around the world during the conference. In Norway, national exams are not prioritised and during these exams, the students are allowed to bring in whatever they wanted and could even use the internet as the goal of the exam was not to test their memorisation skills.

In addition, the students studied topics like sustainability, public health and life mastery, which were relevant to them.

In Peru, autonomous learning strategies are being practised and students get to define what is important to them in their learning. Students are also trained to conduct self-evaluation.

So perhaps, the more important questions to ask are:

1) Is my child happy learning or going to school?
2) Is he progressing based on his or her own standards rather than the standards of others?
3) Is my child self-motivated to achieve his or her own goals?
4) Are my child’s classes adequate to prepare him/her for the future?