Many schools held their parent-teacher session last week. Some of my students told me their teachers described them as “talkative” and “naughty”.
The student who was described as “talkative” is actually a very vocal person who can express herself very well. The “naughty” student is a kid who is very lively, brings joy to the class and someone who can be serious in his schoolwork when he concentrates.
To be fair, I am firm with some of my students, especially the P1 students, when I have to maintain order in class. If things get out of hand, I may bring certain issues to the attention of parents, using specific examples.
However, I do not like to use labels like “naughty” on them. 1) They may misbehave on certain issues but it is still not right for me to judge them.
2) I do not know how the student who’s supposedly “talkative” behave in school. She doesn’t disturb other students by being “talkative” in my class. Instead, by being vocal, she is helping to encourage a more participative class environment. I will hate to see this quality suppressed because of the comment from her school teacher.
It is of good faith to make sure our child doesn’t disturb others in class. At the same time, we must make sure we are not suppressing his talents unwittingly because of a wrongful assessment. Adults can guide them along the way, but passing negative judgements is never a good start.
Just in case you are still affected by the comments from the parent-teacher meet last week, here are some examples to illustrate how some of these so-called “negative qualities” could turn out just fine for your child.
1. College drop-outs
Your son/daughter may not be very interested in the school curriculum and is always focusing on other passions. Perhaps, the Singapore system is not for him.
The Singapore education system focuses a lot on Maths and Science, and rote learning so those without the flair may not benefit from it. This doesn’t mean that he’s “stupid.”
To be fair, Singapore’s comprehensive education system has groomed many talented people. According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, Singapore was ranked among top 3 in the world for its educational system. I, too, benefited from Singapore’s education system and am able to have a career in writing in Greater China because of its bilingual education.
Still, it’s hard for one system to fit all. Do you know that Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard because they wanted to focus on the projects they were working on?
Of course, I am not suggesting that your child quit primary school this instance. Primary school is important for foundation, but don’t be too worried if your child expresses talent in non-examinable subjects, e.g. in music or dance.
Just to note, Gates is the world’s richest person now and Zuckerberg was a billionaire at 23.
Kids are kids. Some are more playful and rowdy in class. As parents, the job is to make sure they don’t interrupt the learning process of other students.
If they don’t and are just more on the “wild side, ” I think it’s OK!
Apple’s Steve Jobs loved to play pranks on others- once, he switched all the locks on the bicycles of his classmates! His primary school teacher even needed to bribe him to make him do his homework. The co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak was a prankster too and would often work with Jobs to make fun of others.
Again, I am not condoning these actions, but just saying, your child may grow out of it. And his playfulness could be a source of his creativity, like how it was for the man behind the iPhone and iPads.
3. Slow, unsociable
There are introverts and extroverts, even among adults. There is no need for a student to adhere to social norms “just to fit in.”
The Singapore’s education system is very competitive- if our child is slower than the rest, be patient with him.
It’s really not up to him if he’s slow, right? As long as he has tried, we should give him a pat on the back and help him understand concepts faster through mind mapping and other means.
Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein, who is best known for the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc², was described by his teachers as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams” Thomas Edison’s father thought he was stupid, his teacher called him addled and he went on to invent light bulbs.
Again, if the student is not disrupting other children, this should be a non-issue.
In Singapore, where many Singaporeans are reserved and afraid to speak up, this is a rare quality that one wants to have.
Do you know at Singapore’s top university NUS, to encourage students to be more vocal in class, it has to implement a 10-mark system to encourage students to speak up in class!
And who knows, your child may be the next Oprah Winfrey! Winfrey’s grandmother once said that ever since Winfrey could talk, she was on stage. As a child, she played games interviewing her doll and crows on the fence of her family’s property. Now she is the most influential woman in the world, according to some assessments and North America’s only black billionaire.
So who knows, with your nurturing, our “naughty” son/daughter could be the next Steve Jobs.
Wei is a reporter who teaches students on Fridays and Saturdays because he loves children. He started this project with his buddy Wallace. Their username was previously PSLEGURU. To know about them, you can visit their facebook and website. To know more about their classes, click here.