Covid-19 has been tough on this year’s cohort, pointing to further action needed as the children go on to secondary school. Parents too need to consider the broader shifts in education and the lessons they impart their children in their responses to exam setbacks.
Laremy Lee For The Straits Times
So palpable was the pain from this year’s mathematics primary school leaving examination (PSLE) that it even affected those of us who did not sit the exam.
It prompted my 29-year-old cousin to recount, over WhatsApp, her traumatic experience in 2004, when she sat for her PSLE: “For my cohort, our science PSLE was the toughest. Science was my best subject. But I could neither do the paper nor finish it in time. I was quite shaken and on the verge of breaking down. Our teachers confirmed it was the toughest science paper they had seen in years. So how (this cohort of) pupils must be feeling totally resonates with me.”
And, perhaps, if another opportunity presents itself again, it might be a comparison to what I would say in the future. It’d be interesting to see how my thinking would’ve evolved – or not – at each age or life stage.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When it comes to learning and life, strike a balance between going at it on your own versus getting trusted advice from someone who’s been there and done that.
On one hand, reinventing the wheel can often be an exercise in futility.
Having someone reliable with the wisdom of experience to guide you makes the process of learning and development quicker and less painful; you get to avoid any pitfalls while reaping the rewards of success.
On the other hand, tried-and-tested methods, while safe, may not always lend themselves to creativity and innovation.
She asked a follow-up question: How do you find that balance? While i had provided an initial response, I’m reworking what I said initially and would like to offer this instead:
Always gather information first, regardless of whether what you want to do is something others have done before, or something no one has done before.
You may uncover inputs that are useful, relevant and applicable, in a direct or indirect way.
Conversely, you may discover information that indicates a need to forge your own path, instead of following a well-trodden one.
Once you gather sufficient insights, distil them to make decisions on how best to do what it is you want to do.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt from your career?
Take care of yourself.
I don’t mean this in a selfish or self-centred way, such as by placing your own needs before those of others.
Rather, really carry out self-care in all the different dimensions i.e. physical, mental, emotional, etc.
When you’re in a good place, you can accomplish almost anything, be it leading yourself or others to greater heights.
To use the oft-quoted Oxygen Mask Analogy: during turbulent times, putting on our own masks first allows us to help others put on their masks.