What about his Calling?
My son observed this about Singapore’s attitude to education: It is like the driver is concentrating so hard on driving to get to his destination, he refuses to notice there is a highway or a tunnel to make his journey shorter. Everyone is so focused on what he is asked to do, he misses out how to get to his destination better and quicker even when you point him to a short cut.
A Standard Aspiration
It is amazing that many of us are so engrossed in chasing what we are told to for our children that we forget why we are doing so: we fight mindlessly to get into GEP, for good PSLE T-scores, straight As in ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels, perfect IB and GPA scores. So if everyone is closing in on perfect scores, how do we differentiate one perfect scorer from another?
In our gathering where we saw our 13-year-olds meet after their first semester in their respective secondary schools, I am curious what the boys’ plans and career hopes are. Interestingly, my lawyer friend and fellow parent pointed out to me that every single one wants to be either a doctor or a lawyer, but none of them knows why. The none-of-them-knows-why part surprises and worries me.
I don’t believe two classes of 50 gifted students all have the same calling and share just two gifts, so realistically, some will be spending 40 years of their lives doing something they are not passionate about, and that will be so tragic.
Finding an Individual Passion
As a parent, I believe the one single most important responsibility is to help each child find his passion, his purpose and calling in life. It is already sad that many of us who grew up in third world Singapore in the 1970s fail to find these in our entire lives in the name of survival. Yet many of us are passing the same fate to our children.
We parents ferry our children in and out for all sorts of classes to pursue academic excellence but do not know what our children’s passions are. As a society, we judge a student by his GPA or aggregate score in standardized exams like ‘O’, ‘A’ levels and SAT. So what about the area that he really sparkles in, do we look deep into each child’s talent even if it is not measured in standardized exams? Do we spend time to ensure each child gets to pursue his love, his dreams and his career? Do we find time to listen to each child’s heart so that we know his dreams and then help him achieve them?
Acceleration = Finding a Calling Early
The earlier we help our children find their passions in life, the happier they will be, and the earlier they will be on their career paths. Doesn’t this sound perfectly logical? Isn’t that what we all hope to do?
Instead of focusing on our steering wheel and driving the same road we are told to, we can look harder to find that tunnel or highway and that short cut. That accelerated path has been there all along: in each child, and he has been trying to tell us all the time how to lead him to the life he wants. He has been trying to tell us how to differentiate him from the multitudes out there.
Would we be drivers who find the correct roads and paths to help our children get to where they want to go or would we rather insist on the perfect roads to take so that they reach the predestined aka OUR destinations?