Monday, May 03, 2010

Building a better person

We often think about schooling as simply getting good exam results; maybe at best, we regard it as a way to practice our intellectual skills. But schools are where the adults of tomorrow learn not just how to read and write, but how to live. Our schools do a good job of teaching us basic literacy (and arguably quite a poor job of helping us think about the things we read and write), but even our best schools are often only mediocre when it comes to preparing us for life outside academia.

A friend of mine, Lim Su Ann, wrote an excellent post some months back on how deeply unsatisfying the opportunities for extracurricular growth are in our schools — it's a piece I recommend highly. Most of us in school simply go through the motions of extracurricular involvement — we don't really care about what we do. Most of the extracurricular things I pursued in school had nothing to do with my school. Until our schools allow students the freedom to pursue the things which interest them outside the classroom, and encourage responsible decisionmaking instead of simply usurping all of students' autonomy, we can't say our schools are properly preparing the adults of tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Ex-curricular events should be encouraged by the adults of the school. When I was young, fathers would volunteer to teach us soccer and rugby. Mothers would volunteer to teach us art and various other living skills. However, society these days no longer work on the principle of being a volunteer for the betterment of society. Too many are busy climbing onto the rat race treadmill to bother about the all rounded education that our children should be experiencing.

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A good muslimah said...

Hope Malaysia will do better.

4freedom said...

schools are not limited only to academic development though it is its main purpose. However many students, especially young ones, see an education institution as a place where they can socialize and interact with each other. Personal development is a multi-dimensional process. It has to be balanced. If it is tilted in one way, then the individual will turn out 'less developed'. Intellectual capacity is not measured only in classrooms. In reality the person you are in the class doesn't directly determine who you are/will be in the real world. Some nerds achieve fantastic grades, good for them, but they have terrible social skills which prevent them from developing their career and own interpersonal skills.

That said, schools should always focus on overall development rather than solely on academic. We are seeing far too many malaysian students who graduate with flying colours, but when given a job in an MNC (which requires tremendous social skills to be honest) end up as a major flop. really we have to get rid of the age-old paradigm "academic success=success". Success is attained only by people who truly pursues them.