Monday, July 23, 2012

The final answer is...

Andre is now in the thick of PSLE revision, counting down to the dreaded exam (2 and a half months) and as you can imagine, it's a very painful period for everyone involved.

To me, it's a total waste of a year. He hardly learned anything new - the entire year is practically spent trying to perfect exam techniques by doing exam papers ad nauseum. And for what? PSLE is essentially just a glorified, high-stakes school placement test. It's extremely meaningless and experience-diminishing.

Not to mention, the stress has turned my happy-go-lucky boy into a snappish, angsty pre-teen. I can't wait for it to be over.

In the course of PSLE preparation, there are times when I've despaired over Andre's off-the-wall answers to exam paper questions. In Science, for example, there was a question: "Why are the butterfly chrysalises either brown or green?"

His reply: "Depends whether they ate brown or green plants."

Sometimes, his command of the English language lands him in trouble, like his answer to this question: "Why is it not advisable for a man to place plants in the room where he sleeps?"

His reply: "The plants will fight the man for oxygen."

Wah, monster plants, like Little Shop of Horrors.

One particular question stuck out in my memory. Andre was doing an English paper and as part of the comprehension cloze passage where you have to fill in appropriate words in the blanks, there was this sentence:

"The Trojan war was fought against the city of Troy in Asia Minor which is __________ -day Turkey."

The correct word for the blank is "modern". Andre however, took one look at "day" and "Turkey" (never mind that it's capitalised) and filled in "Thanksgiving".

I know I was yelling at him while shrieking in laughter at the same time. Talk about comic relief.

On a more serious note, I know it's PSLE fatigue when he cares more about getting the work done than getting it right. I'm despairing over his immaturity, yet part of me resents the fact that I have to force him to jump through hoops. And I know I'm not the only one going through this angst. You can usually spot the mum with a PSLE kid cos she's the one who looks the most frazzled.

This is even more so if her child is a boy. Generally speaking, boys mature later. Many of the boys in Andre's class talk and behave like 7-year-olds while the girls look like they've got their future all planned out. In that sense, PSLE favours girls because it calls for extreme discipline, meticulous care and the patience to do repetitive tasks over and over again.

My brother-in-law who has taught Sunday school for secondary level kids, recounts that the girls are usually very socially clued in whereas the boys, especially at sec 1, seem not to know what they're doing there and appear to live on their own planet. Only when they hit sec 3 or 4 (or even later), the boys will suddenly wake up and then outshine the girls.

I realise that we're sometimes in a hurry for our kids to grow up, for silly reasons like the PSLE. We let the system dictate the timetable of our kids' maturity, which is just wrong.

So I'm trying to tell myself to let Andre mature at his own pace. Instead of wishing away his innocence, I should enjoy it while it lasts. It will disappear soon enough.


Anonymous said...

Dear Monica
Must be frustrating huh?
To want to have your kid enjoy his life at his own pace and yet the silly high-stakes PSLE is sucking the life out of him and everyone else essentially.
Definitely tragic.

I see many many parents poring over assessment books with their pre-teen/pri sch kids at the food courts these days. It's insanity when parents have to sacrifice actual family time to ace exams. It's very sad. But what can parents do? Forget the race and look at others move ahead? Join the race and be equally miserable?
Tough call either way.


monlim said...

Grace: Yalor, what to do right? It's one of those situations where you can't opt out, even though it's super frustrating.

Never mind, only a little longer!

Elaine said...

Hi Monica,

Learnt about your blog from my friend Sarah. Interestingly, I found myself telling a friend recently about "not letting the system dictate the timetable of our kids' development."

And I feel myself much more relaxed when both hubby and myself agreed to take the same approach. Though there are still days I wonder why my boy's peers are drawing fishes and houses and he's still at scribbles. Ha...

Ok, but my oldest child's only 4. :P

stay-at-home mum said...

all the best. I went thru what you are going thru last year, with my son. Now at Sec 1, he still hasnt grown up and they have 9 subjects to juggle!!

monlim said...

Elaine: All the best - you have a long way to go! 4 is such a lovely age - enjoy your boy's innocence while you still can :)

SAHM: Sigh... I'll cross that bridge when I come to it :P

Anonymous said...

You know Mon...these days I see so many advanced kids beyond their years that when I see a normal one charting the regular path, that is a gem for me!!! Seriously good to be normal!! LOL

All the best for Andre's PSLE exams! It will be over soon....


monlim said...

QX: Standing out by being normal? lol! Thanks for the wishes, he'll need loads of prayers!

rugs said...

err. i didn't know cohabiting with plants was inadvisable. thought it was just a hgtv trend.

Anonymous said...

Hello Monica. I went through that phase in 2010. I don't envy what you are going through now. My son is now in Sec 3 and he still hasn't woken up yet! And it's the "O" levels next year...WL

monlim said...

WL: Aargh, why am I hearing all these cases of boys in sec school still "sleeping"?? Don't dash my hopes! lol

Anonymous said...

I don't think boys are immature, I feel they just have different qualities and 'energy' and who is to say that means they are immature? Being poor with time management and wanting to expend energy does not equal immature. They need to be engaged in a different way and school does not cater for that. It is a tough call only if we believe that school's way is the only way to learn and preparing our children for a successful future. I don't believe in both the above.


justpassingby said...

LOL, I know I'm a bit late with my comments, but I so can commiserate... like yours, mine is also doing PSLE, like yours, mine has a weird sense of the language, and is struggling academically... which is especially frustrating since we know he has a high IQ, just functioning much lower than he should be. Learning needs and stuff aside, the Primary school system is so unkind to those who are not the brightest and most brilliant... but I keep telling myself, after O levels, no one has ever bothered to look at my PSLE cert anyway!

jiayou mummy... let's work on building our sons up to be gentlemen and let the academic side of things progress at their own pace. I tell mine, as long as he dilligently keeps up with homework and shows improvement in his work, I am happy.

Anonymous said...

Maturity of 7 yos? Not so bad lah. Mine is perhaps that of a 9 year old. He still wants to play the games my neighbour's Pr 2 boys plays only he ups the complexity a little bit more :)

Right now, I'm focusing on now ruining my relationship with my PSLE boy. I think that's the most impt. To give them the guidance and mental support and to encourage and remind them to DO YOUR BEST! Coz at the end of the day, I want to raise a child who still has good memories of me, not one of a screaming witch :D

Jo Frets Lee

monlim said...

Jo: I can commiserate totally! I think it's too late for me to wipe out the memory of screaming witch though :P

loveourchildrennow said...

Hi, I liked this. Makes me laugh out loud! I like the thanksgiving one. I had lots of fun coaching my sons for their studies too. They are so cute, arent they :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mon,

Today is 2017, a good 5 years from your experience, and nothing has changed.

My son is also doing the PSLE this year, and I can identify with the responses that your son gave in the English cloze, and Science papers, because my son is also doing the same ! Let's not even get started with Maths.

To quote from your Blog, the modus operandi of his school is to "perfect exam techniques by doing exam papers ad nauseum", not just by using School papers, but also Past Year PSLE papers that can now be bought (2014-2016), in PSLE Mock Exams conducted after school hours.

Unfortunately PSLE of 2017 has turned me into a mother that I dislike and whom I didn't expect that I would be, sucked into the academic vortex Uniquely Singaporean - PSLE Style.

Luna Lim

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