“What has the shape of a plant cell got to do with my life?”
“Do I need to apply Pythagoras’ theorem when crossing the road?”
“Who cares what the blue sky symbolises?”
“Why do I have to crack my brain over useless, irrelevant topics in school?!”
Ever have these thoughts run through your head? Good news: you are not alone.
Youngsters love to play, and the majority age group of students happen to be youngsters. The struggle to sacrifice play time for studies is real.
Finding a private tutor may help, but it really boils down to the student itself. It doesn’t help that Singapore adopts a utilitarian education system in which results are the chief gauge of a student’s capability and effort.
Contact Singapore writes that “Singapore’s public schools maintain high standards of teaching and learning […] ranking top 3 in the world for its educational system. Singapore was also ranked 1st in both Math and Science across 140 countries in World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016.”
What this incredible report fails to explain, is that Singapore could only have achieved these distinctions at the expense of a dialogic and nurturing learning environment in which sophisticated thinking can be developed. Ironic isn’t it? Studying means memorising model answers, doing ten-year series to spot exam questions, going for tuition classes and so on.
Of course, there are some students who are simply zai in their academics, and we are happy for them. But the point is that there is little time for students to cultivate or even indulge in the joy of learning, which should always be present in any education system.
JCeconomics’ website, featuring a newspaper cutting of “super tutors” in Singapore and testimonials of students having better grades.
The Straits Times covered an article on Dr. Richard Kwok, who:
“as a youngster, was regarded as stupid by teachers, parents and neighbours because he could not keep up in class.
In secondary school, although his results were not good enough for admittance, he appealed to the principal to take pure physics, chemistry and additional mathematics.
He was allowed to do so – but only if he could pass the exams on his own without school tutelage.
With night classes and notes borrowed from his classmates, Dr Kwok managed to do just that.”
Heard of the phrase, “I am an A-sian, not a B-sian” before? I don’t even know whether to think of it as a joke, but it definitely shows how grades have become a measure of our identity.
It’s time to wipe that stifling mindset away and consider these thoughts instead:
1. You are higher than your grades
There is a concern that grades do not depend upon how much you learn but how well you memorise the model answers, which is true to a certain extent. But you can always challenge yourself to understand why you have to memorise certain concepts the way they are!
Try to beat the system by outdoing it and outsmarting it. If you begrudgingly give up or resist, you’re being easy on yourself!
Furthermore, grades are intermittent gauges of your academic progress. They should be used as an indication of what works and what doesn’t. Think of them as a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Was your PSLE score too low for you to enter your ideal secondary school? Appeal. Move on.
Flunked that mid-term paper? Reflect. Move on.
Scored 70 instead of 75? Review. Move on.
Got straight As for your O’s? Yay. Move on.
Click here to read about the 3 secrets every genius knows.
Imagine: If your life is a series of mountains, what’s beyond your current mountain?
2. Studying is artsy
There are a few quotes by French philosopher René Descartes that might be of interest to you:
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
“Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.”
“In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn, than to contemplate.”
He sure is gifted with an ability to pen his thoughts into beautiful words! And if you can’t write as well as him, fret not – I’m sure you still have unique thoughts and feelings that you can express through different mediums. The point is that studying is an activity that stirs the soul, or at least it was meant to.
After all, we live in a huge universe with great scientific progress. How did everything come to be? How do aeroplanes work? How is solar power converted? How do doctors perform brain surgeries? Is there a God? Curiosity creates hunger for learning, and acquiring knowledge because you’re curious about it – that’s an art.
Studying is just as much, if not more, about the whys and the hows rather than just what. Because of how the public education system has tried to wire our minds, our curiosity is unfortunately prone to being desensitised.
Click here for 40 awesome study tips.
3. Education is good for your health
It has been scientifically proven that education prolongs life, reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes, and strengthens one’s immune system:
“the magnitude of the relationship between education and health varies across conditions, but is generally large. An additional four years of education lowers five-year mortality by 1.8 percentage points; it also reduces the risk of heart disease by 2.16 percentage points, and the risk of diabetes by 1.3 percentage points. Four more years of schooling lowers the probability of reporting oneself in fair or poor health by 6 percentage points and reduces lost days of work to sickness by 2.3 each year.” (David Cutler and Adriana Lleras-Muney)
How does that happen?!
I can only guess… physical exercise?
Ask the researchers!
Education is an inevitable part of life, and it was always meant to be enjoyable, rewarding and stimulating. The good news is that despite everything, it still can be! Remember: you are higher than your grades, studying is artsy and education is good for your health.