Thursday, March 15, 2007

SPM and the Over-Achievers

I've been reading a lot about the SPM results in the newspaper the last couple of days, ever since the results came out.

So we have students taking 17, 18, 19 subjects and getting all A's, or getting mostly A's, or getting really great results out of the many subjects they signed up for. Good for them!

My first question, out of annoyance at what a big deal they're making out of this, is, who the hell cares?!

My second question, out of concern of how this would affect our future children, is, what kind of message are we sending out to our future generations?

Ok, so it's good to celebrate the 'intelligence' of all these over-achievers, but if it was me, I'd only feature it in a small article, like a by-the-way kind of thing, as in, 'By the way, so-and-so got a hundred A's for their SPM. Wow! Let's applaud them for an achievement of a 'life-time'.'

Oops, sorry. Was my sarcasm a little too thick for you to wade through?

Seriously, what are their reasons for taking up so many subjects in the first place? Do they need to do it? Will it really help them in their future? Other than the fact that they prove themselves to be show-offs and over-achievers for taking a lot of unnecessary subjects(keyword here being 'unnecessary'), what else do they prove?

Will they get better jobs in the future? Maybe, but not necessarily. If I was an employer hiring them, it would tell me that they were good at taking orders and could juggle many tasks at a time, but it wouldn't prove that they would be good leaders, or creative and resourceful when it came to solving a problem. And in fact, seeing all the unnecessary subjects they've taken, I would think, is this the kind of person that will take the long way around to achieve something, when they could've achieved the same thing with less effort and manpower, and in less time? In other words, efficiency.

Good results at school can only take you so far, but it won't take you the rest of the way. And we know all too well, there is so much further for you to go after you've finished studying.

The amount of publicity given to this SPM results thing is ridiculous. Getting great results for SPM is *not* an achievement of a lifetime, it is *nothing* in the whole scheme of things. It might get you a good job, and that's it. Nothing you studied for at school will apply to living in the real world. And no one will even care that you were top student in the whole of Malaysia in a couple of years when you come out into the working world. Do you think your employer will actually introduce you to everyone he knows proudly as the person who got the most A's in 20**? He doesn't care! He only cares if you do your job well.

Look, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do well in school. As someone who enjoys learning, I could never put education down. So it's definitely not a bad thing to do well in school, but it's not a life-and-death thing either. And my problem is that, this is the message we're sending out.

Get a 17-19 A's in school, and everyone will coo and praise you. Get 10-17 A's, and you get a pat on your back. Get 5A's, and you'll get 'oh, well'. Get less than 5 A's, you get sympathetic noises. What is that?!

Do you know the amount of pressure this kind of publicity causes the rest of the world who don't do as well? Doesn't anyone remember a couple of years ago when a student *committed suicide* because she didn't get all A's?! Fuck it! She got better results than me and she committed suicide! And I was perfectly happy with my results. In fact, I was indifferent about it because to me, numbers on a paper doesn't define who I am, or my intelligence and ability.

It's stupid!

That girl was a perfectly intelligent and capable person, who could've had a bright future in front of her. She committed suicide because of all the pressure put on her to get meaningless A's on an exam that wouldn't have mattered nuts when she's in the working world.

Imagine the pressure within a family, when the parents expect a younger child to do as well as an older child did. Imagine how a child would feel when he couldn't achieve what his sibling did. Imagine the insecurity, the low self-confidence and self-worth he feels because 'my parents love (sibling) more because he's smarter than me', or because 'I'm stupid, I'm not smart enough, I couldn't get enough A's', or 'my parents will be so disappointed in me'. Imagine what kind of person he's going to grow up to be because in his mind, he wasn't good enough.

I've had it with all this hype about the SPM over-achievers. We need to start focusing more on the emotional intelligence of our children rather than just their education.