C's year-end school exam just ended. As usual, she was cool about it. No revision, despite my frequent prodding. She continued with life as usual, and even made some bread and jelly by herself. She is teaching me to see things in a different way.
During my time, as I was growing up, my generation was taught that we need to study very hard, get into university, get a good job and you're set for life. Sounds like a straight rigid path to follow, knowing what I know now. I wish I had strayed from the path once in a while to find some lovely garden in the midst of the jungle and played there for awhile figuratively speaking. Maybe I could have discovered my true passion that way.
The weekend before her exams, we spent one day exploring Batu Caves and the adjacent Dark Cave. We climbed up the 272 steps of Batu Caves so that she could see what a Hindu temple in a cave is like, the various gods the Hindus worship. On the way down, we visited the Dark Cave, a conservation site. We took the Educational Tour and learned many things about how caves form, the various limestone structures and characteristics of a cave, the unique ecosystem of a cave, and some endangered species that can be found there -- much more interesting than staying at home and memorising the formula of the area of a triangle, I must admit.
The world's tallest golden statue of Murugan at the base of the stairs.
The entrance of Batu Cave at the top of the stairs.
We didn't spot this spider but we spotted cave snails, other spiders, bats and cockroaches.
See here to learn more about Dark Cave.
So here's my take thus far on education, parenting and life. Note that it's MY take and I don't expect anyone to agree with me. I am writing this down to remind myself because I came from a different generation who sees things differently:
1. Every child is unique, so it's useless comparing mine with others.
2. Childhood is to be enjoyed, like I did mine.
3. Children (and adults) learn better and more when it's fun and interesting.
4.The bottomline is that the child must be happy wherever he is and in whatever he is doing.
5. It is important to do well in school (and I don't mean academically only), but it is not the most important thing in a child's life.
6. Exams are over-rated. It's just a way to measure how much one has learned and understood.
7. It is ok to fail an exam, as long as the child tried and did his best.
8. It is good to go to university but it is not a must.
9. Good character and values are more valuable than a string of A's, a high-salaried job or social status.
10. Life is not a race. It is not necessary for a child to read independently at two years of age, or enter university at 12.
11. Not knowing why one is learning, being forced to learn, rote learning, not relating and applying what one has learnt with real life is pointless.
12. It is good to expose a child to many experiences and activities, but only pursue the activity further if the child is interested. This does not mean the child can be allowed to give up an activity he was initially interested in immediately when the going gets too tough.
13. Thinking independently, speaking confidently, arguing rationally, problem solving creatively are good skills to develop.
14. Children grow up very quickly. There are some things I can only do with them when they are young, like teach them personal discipline, self-control, responsibility, love for family and God, i.e. there are many tricks which I can't teach to old dogs.
That's all I can think of for now.
This week, we will be celebrating C's 11th birthday. She is busy at school rehearsing a dance for their year-end concert, she has an outdoor nature camp to attend during the Deepavali long weekend, a drum exam to take the very next day after camp, a school field trip to a batik workshop, and finally, the year-end concert before school closes in mid-November.
I hope I will be able to quote Robert Frost later in life:
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken