Last Saturday, I had a chance to participate as a Forum Speaker at a seminar organized by the Ministry of Education.
Frankly, I have never attended an Excel Fest before, but I learnt that it is an annual event that celebrates and shares exciting and innovative practices in schools. It is also a platform for parents and members of the public to find out more about the latest developments in our education landscape.
Held at the latest ITE in Ang Mo Kio, the whole school was packed, and MOE also showed that they are changing. Gone are the emphasis on results, but there were lots of literature and workshops on building character and looking into the holistic development of children.
It was in this light that I was asked to represent the Media Literacy Council at a forum speaking about Raising a 21st Century Child in the Digital age. With the Internet and mobile devices becoming more indispensible to Parents and Children alike, it was good to see a packed lecture theatre, as Parents came to pick up some tips from the MOE guidance counsellors.
The questions were definitely interesting, as a member of the public asked the guidance counsellors if it was “ok” for Parents to reward one hour of homework with one hour of the internet. Another common complaint these days, is also about how kids are glued to “gaming”, and not so much about their studies.
Personally, I don’t think we should draw a parallel with a child’s non-interest in studies and the internet. When I was in my teens, I did not have the internet to contend with, but I was also not interested in my studies. Instead, I was walking around with my Walkman, writing letters to Pen Pals, and playing computer games on my Apple 2 and Atari game system. In other words, if it is not computer games, teens will find other devices to distract themselves with. Each child is different, and although some are not academically inclined, if we can build some positive self esteem into the young people of today, I am sure that they will find some interest in their studies. As a teen, I focused on subjects that I was good at, and gave up on topics that I was terrible at.
I found my self esteem built up, as I excelled in my humanities. In contrast, I avoided my Science subjects like the plague, as I found it hard to grasp the concepts.
Listening to one of the speakers, I was reminded on how I needed to listen actively to my children. Frequently, when we see our Primary School kids, we are quick to ask, “Have you finished your homework?”
Parents should therefore not be surprised by children who feel that, this is the only thing that Parents are interested in. I was reminded once again to create opportunities for them to open up, and not lecture them about life. Letting them share their daily experiences in School, is important to build up Parent child bonding.
Hopefully, as I keep on Praising the kids effort rather than intelligence, I will get something right along the way. I aim to build up my children, so that they are secure enough to keep on trying, despite facing setbacks. As a young Parent, I am not an expert at Parenting, but I do hope that my conscious effort to spend time with the kids, and aided with some consistent role modelling, I do hope to see confident children in my household.