Monday, March 7, 2016

All about the 'A's

Posting on a public blog about academic results is always tricky, in my opinion. I'm constantly in two minds whether to do so. If the results are bad, announcing them would embarrass my child. On the other hand, announcing good results can sound like I'm bragging. I faced this dilemma when each of my kids went through their PSLE.

You probably all know by now that I'm alluding to Lesley-Anne's 'A' level results, which were released last Friday.

Some background: Even though Lesley-Anne had been performing consistently well in JC, the subject that had given her the most trouble was English Language and Linguistics (ELL). I'd written about this in a 2014 post on how she chose her rather unconventional subject combination. It was a subject she chose to take due to interest, even though it wasn't highly encouraged because it has a historically low distinction rate at the 'A' levels, compared to other subjects. As you know, in the Singapore education system, you're supposed to pick subjects where you have the highest chance of scoring an 'A', since that's all that matters in education! Bleeaah.

ELL is a subject that is very hard to score well in. When I saw what Lesley-Anne has to study, many of the topics were those that I learned in university and in as great detail. The work she put in for ELL was more than what she had to do for her other subjects. The grading was equally tough. The best grade she ever received in the subject in her two JC years was a 'B'. The worst, an 'E'. However, she never regretted her decision to take ELL. ELL was interesting and opened her eyes to how language is used, something that's infinitely useful to a writer.

Then came the 'A' levels and my heart sank when she came home from the first ELL paper, terribly upset. She said the paper featured some very odd questions and she took a long time to figure out what to write, so when time was up, she couldn't finish and missed out writing a very important point. Nevertheless, I told her to put that aside and focus on her other papers. Before her second ELL paper, we all prayed ridiculously hard and even though it also turned out to feature quite non-standard questions, thankfully, she found it more manageable than the first paper.

So fast forward to last week, before the 'A' level results. If you've followed my blog all these years, you'll know that scoring straight 'A's has never been a fixation with us the way it is with many Singaporean parents. Not that we don't think grades are important, but they're not everything. In fact, when Lesley-Anne conducts talks in primary schools, one of the things she shares to encourage the kids is that she was never a straight 'A' student and that has not stopped her from chasing her dreams.

However, for the 'A' levels, the number of 'A' grades Lesley-Anne scored would have significant impact on her tertiary path. She had already received an unconditional offer from a local university and a few conditional offers from overseas universities. For one of the conditional offers, the condition is straight 'A's. In addition, I'd previously blogged that if Lesley-Anne wanted to go overseas, she would need to secure a scholarship as we wouldn't be able to pay for her. So without straight 'A's, going to the other overseas universities would also be unlikely (even thought they didn't impose the straight 'A' condition), simply because the chances of winning a scholarship without straight 'A's would be that much lower.

With all the different configurations weighing on her mind, by Thursday night, Lesley-Anne was a nervous wreck. To calm her down, I said I would drink with her. By drink, I meant we shared one small bottle of 4.8% alcoholic drink. Peach flavoured some more, haha. We watched mindless sitcoms on TV until we zoned out (mostly Big Bang Theory).

We also prayed. A lot. I asked God to reward Lesley-Anne's hard work (I thought it would be terribly discouraging if her admirable work ethic came to naught). As you know, I'm constantly vexed by the kiasu and soul-less attitude that's rife in our education system - "study what you can score in!", "do what is prestigious!", etc. So I asked God to also let her results be an inspiration to those who have the courage to follow their own path and go with their conviction, not the ones who constantly look to game the system.

After an excruciating wait on Friday, she finally called me at about 3pm...

She got her 'A' in ELL. And in all her other subjects as well. Six distinctions in total.

I'm not gonna elaborate on our response and feelings - ecstatic doesn't even begin to describe it. But what I can say is, the deep gratitude I feel towards God's grace is what made me decide to reveal Lesley-Anne's results in the end. Whether her experience will encourage you that going with your passion can bring rewards, or whether it will strengthen your own faith, I don't know. All I can do is share.

I suppose at the end of the day, it's less about the actual results and more about what a combination of faith, prayer and diligence (plus some alcohol) can accomplish. I don't even know if Lesley-Anne will eventually go overseas for her university education. At this stage, we have adopted the attitude that it really doesn't matter. Whatever God has planned for her, it will be good.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." - Jeremiah 29: 11-12


Unknown said...

Hi Monica, thank you so much for this post. Thank you for your testimony on how God came through for Lesley-Anne.

My daughter is taking her PSLE this year. Your post will serve as a reference and reminder that our God is far greater than what we perceive Him to be in our minds. He is able in our disable. Thank you so much.

God bless you and your family,

Karmeleon said...

Fabulous. Anyway I'm really glad for the IP. It has provided fairly good preparation for my boy.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news, Monica and heartiest congratulations to Lesley-Anne! really well done! =)


monlim said...

Thank you all for your kind wishes!

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica,

Sorry for this after-thought (again)...

just wondering with the IP/through-train system in place, if you are not from the IP sec school but make it to a good IP-college with stellar O-level scores, will you be playing catch-up in the lead-up to A-levels? As in your other classmates would already have covered some basics of Yr5 and Yr6 in their sec school without having to hunker down and study for the O levels?


Anonymous said...

Sincere congrats to Lesley-Ann! My 10-year old son has been a hard core fan of the Danger Dan series and there is nothing more inspiring than Lesley-Ann's straight As! An idol close to home and the heart! Cheers!

Best Regards,

monlim said...

Thanks, Lena and very happy to hear your son is a DD fan!

Grace: From L-A's experience, the IP allows them to learn GP techniques and Project Work skills from as early as Year 3 so yes, the IP kids have an advantage in this respect. This is not to say the O level kids who join the IP JCs can't catch up but from what I see, it can be rather demoralising when the IP kids seem to already know some of the skills. If my kid was from the O level track, I would prefer him to join a non-IP JC, or at least one whose kids are not predominantly from IP, so there's a level playing field. But that's just my opinion!

Karmeleon said...

@Monica: yeah. My other non-IP kids went to non-IP JCs. And take heart - Monica, bc for Boys, they do tend to mature by their later teens, so they might be more sensible in JC years.

As for IP-JCs - yes, as I mentioned above, I do find that the entire integrated programme does prep them . They integrate the accelerated components into their curriculum from the start of Year 1 onwards, so the whole programme is kind of seamless. But then my IP child's school is a straight 6 year IP - they don't transfer to another JC, so maybe it's a little different.

monlim said...

Karmeleon: Key word is "might". Not so hopeful with my son! :P

Agree, IP schools tend to tailor the syllabus towards the Year 6 goal, so it's more seamless, even with the IP transfer schools. The secondary school checks with the JC section to ensure the syllabus is aligned.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica

Heartiest congratulations to Lesley-Anne :) She has worked very hard and has reaped the fruits of her labour.

I am taking a similar subject combination with H2 History, H2 Geography, H2 Literature in English and H1 Mathematics as my core subjects. I wonder if Lesley-Anne can share some tips on doing well in a humanities-driven subject combination. Will really appreciate a tip or two. :)

Thank you and God bless.

Note: I accidentally commented on the wrong blog post at first...

monlim said...

SS: Wow, that's a really humanities-skewed combination! L-A's school doesn't allow History and Geog to be taken together, guess it's different in your school :)

I think L-A must be very tired cos she said she has no tips, except "Take heart", lol. If you're taking that combi, I assume you must have a strong inclination towards the humanities and have no problem with expression. Nothing much to add except enjoy yourself! All the best :)

Anonymous said...

hi Monica

I am writing using my son's Google account. My son is in the GEP program and passed the pre-selection test for the creative writing program. His place in the program is not decided and will be when he submits 4 pieces of creative writing one of which is a poetry. I can't guide him as I am not a language expert. When I asked the teacher, teacher said to explore on your own. But I am sure there are some techniques to writing poems right? I was wondering if my boy can meet up with Leslie Anne and get some advice from her.

monlim said...

Anon: No offence but you're commenting anonymously and even if it was a Google account, I don't know you personally, so it's a big favour to ask.

Shipping Terms said...

She did so well! Impressive!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Lesley-Anne!

I take a similar humanities based subject combination of Knowledge and Inquiry, Economics, History and Mathematics (all at H2 level) and I was wondering if LA could share some tips on how she balances her time between her CCA as well as her Humanities subjects! :)

Thank you and I wish you and your family all the best!

monlim said...

Anon: You don't share any subject! Perhaps what you mean is non-standard combi, haha. I'm not sure what L-A went through is any help. She says she overloaded herself and just went with it :P That's not the best advice, IMO! I guess it all comes down to time management. If you have less time, know how to prioritise and know what study methods work for you. All the best!

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