A Reflection on Academic Performance

This is AJ’s second time going up the stage to receive a prize from the school during the year end prize giving ceremony.  I do not know if he will be up there again next year because the level of difficulty increases each year.  Beside, it is no longer honeymoon for the children Primary 3 onwards.

To score well in Primary 1 and Primary 2 aren't that difficult.  The true challenge will come from Primary 3 onwards.  The system in his school rewards the top 3 in respective classes and the top 3 in each level, in addition to top in respective subjects and model pupils.  So if a child is placed in the better class, yet cannot make it to the top 3 in the class, he/she will not be rewarded.  But, if a child is placed in the last class and made it to the top 3 in that class, he/she will be rewarded.  Is it a fair system?  No, it is not.  But there is no fair system, because every human being has his own point of view.  

Honestly, I was feeling the heat when I saw those students who were 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the top class were also 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their respective levels.  Suddenly, I wondered if these awards were necessary.  No doubt that they served to recognize the effort the children have put in in their studies in the last one year, but they have certainly added pressure to the audience (aka parents and grandparents) as well.  There is a tendency to compare and the children would be pressurized by their parents (and maybe grandparents as well) to keep up or outperform each other as a result.

While I was standing in the hall watching those prizes being awarded, many thoughts crossed my mind. I recalled an incident that AJ shared with me regarding his classmate.

This classmate of his (I named ‘X’ here) is a very bright child. X did very well in all the 3 subjects in Primary 1 and 2.  However, on the day of Math year-end exam paper, X spotted a mistake but didn’t have time to correct it.  He broke down and cried. Yes, over 1 mistake (and you have guessed it right, X scored 49/50 because of that mistake).  When the classmates asked why X cried, X replied that the parents will be very mad.

What? Over 1 mistake? My heart sank when I heard that!  Was it necessary to put so much pressure on the little child who is only in the lower primary?  X has so many schooling years ahead, how is X going to cope with the possible setbacks in time to come?

The Physic tutor said he has students who are already scoring A* continue having tuition to maintain their scores.

This Physic tutor is my husband's distant relative.  I think many of you would have seen his face before in the newspaper.  He is famous for his incredible tutoring income.  In this interview that 晚报 did with him, he mentioned that he has students who are already scoring A* but continue with the tuition to maintain their scores.

I later found out that X is from an affluence family and has tuition since kindergarten days.  X has tuition for all 3 subjects.  X does not go to tuition centres because X didn’t perform well in the academic subjects, X goes to tuition centres in order to continue scoring A*.  How sad.

I don’t want to fall into the trap of rat race.  Life is not just about academic excellence.  Achieving academic excellence now, at this young age, also does not promise academic excellence in the later years.  What is important for my child is to live up to the moral values of perseverance, resilience and kindness.  What I want to see in my child is having the spirit of doing his best for the glory of God.  What I desire most of him is to honour God and be never depart from his faith. 


  1. Amen to the last paragraph ! : ) It is sad.... and like what you mentioned, how is he going face other setbacks in life? A good reminder for me. Thanks!


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