Not naming top students in national exams? What a gimmick. It doesn't go to the heart of the issue. Sandra Davie is completely right. In the end we will learn the hard way that we are trading paltry gains for much bigger losses. Academic standards might fall because we put in less effort and in return what do we get?
Families and students have the right to choose the level of stress they want to work under. It is inane to dumb down everyone. In our family we never care who the top students are. We decide our goals we want to shoot for and go for it.
Eventually these kids will realize that they aren't just competing with their classmates, schoolmates or across the nation. They will have to compete globally especially when this government is so fond of bringing them home to our shores.
The decision not to publish the top scorers smacks of a knee jerk reaction because too many people complain. There is no hint how this is a small even if very visible component of a larger plan.
My idea of a larger plan would be educating our kids to do well in the usual languages, math and science but they may not best every other nation like we are doing now. We cannot hope to compete successfully in global games e.g., Olympics, World Chess, Science Nobels etc., but we could define our own niches e.g., instead of just doing well academically we teach our kids to ask good questions, to integrate knowledge which China and India are not. It is foolish to compete head to head against these large countries, which is what international league tables are about.
Update: Nov 22nd.
93.8 discussed this issue this morning in their morning talk show. Looks like Yays and Nays are split down the middle.
Just spotted this from Heng Swee Keat on my facebook. His reasons are sound but I am not sure about how he is going about it. I am afraid MOE doesn't have a good grasp on how to achieve the right balance because such a balance is dynamic and personal. You can't prescribe it.
Several people have asked if MOE stopped releasing top PSLE scorers to reduce stress or to de-emphasise academic achievements. Well, the change is not to address stress per se or to move away from merit. It is not possible, nor desirable, to eliminate stress completely. Nor should we be shy about achievements. There are broader considerations.
I believe in the pursuit of excellence – in all areas of endeavour. We must encourage our students to apply themselves and to persevere, so that they can reach their full potential in their chosen fields. When they put in the effort, we should cheer them on. When they succeed, we should recognise and celebrate their success.
We now have more avenues to recognise success – the Edusave Scholarships and Edusave Merit Bursary for academic achievements, the expanded EAGLES award for CCA, leadership and community service, and Edusave Character Awards for exemplary character. Schools too provide various forms of recognition. There are many sporting events, academic Olympiads and competitions in different fields, all of which are platforms to promote excellence.
In education, it is useful to bear in mind two key points – our children need to develop at their own pace; and they need to develop as a whole person. Pulling up the shoot to accelerate its growth or distorting growth in particular areas at the expense of holistic development will set the children back. This is why we are putting the emphasis on a ‘student-centric, values-driven’ education.
PSLE is an important exam – but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. It marks the conclusion of one stage of the learning journey – and the road ahead is a long one. As adults, all of us will have to learn continually throughout our lives. It is not healthy to have such national focus at this stage of the journey. Rather, we should encourage them to persevere, to pursue learning along appropriate pathways, and help them succeed in the next phase. What matters is that our children grow up to have a love for learning, and to be life-long learners. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
I hope that whatever the results of your children, parents will support and encourage your children in their next phase of learning and growth. Our children will be more likely to succeed if they grow up to be confident and resilient, able to bounce back from setbacks; and be inventive and adventurous, able and willing to try and create new things. Let us celebrate their effort, continue to encourage excellence, and broaden our definitions of success.