Thursday, October 27, 2016

Beyond the grades

This is a follow-up post from the one I shared on Andre's graduation from secondary school.

After that post, I received some emails asking me what school Andre was in, where the teachers sounded so fantastic. I feel I need to put up this disclaimer: I'm not saying every teacher in Andre's school is "good". I believe that every school has its share of dedicated teachers and not-so-good ones, however you want to define "good". But if a school culture is one which understands a child's worth is more than the grades in his report book, especially if upheld and reinforced at the top, you're more likely to have teachers who translate this philosophy on the ground. And that's where I think Andre's school has gotten it right versus Lesley-Anne's secondary school.

Over the last four years, Andre's secondary school journey has been eventful. Academic-wise, there have been heart-stopping moments when he's performed less than satisfactory. At one point in sec3, I even wondered if he was going to be promoted to sec4 as he struggled with his new subjects.

But at every juncture, I found most of the teachers to be encouraging. It has become a running joke in my own head that whenever I attended a parent-teacher conference, the form teacher or subject teacher would look at his grades, then turn to me earnestly and say, "but he's a very nice boy!" Translation: ok lah, let's focus on something else more positive.

It's not lost on me that should Andre have been in a different secondary school, he might have had his spirit crushed, due to his academic challenges, and for this, I'm so thankful God led him to this school. We didn't know it at the time but it turned out to be a much bigger blessing than we could have imagined. One of Andre's greatest passions is in badminton and here, his ability was allowed to bloom. He was given the opportunity to be Captain and Vice-Captain of the school team for four years, where he developed his own gentle leadership style by setting a good example for his teammates. Andre's a quiet leader and not one to expect anything in return, so it was a wonderful surprise when his badminton teacher picked him for this Outstanding Leadership Award.

In addition, he wrote Andre a glowing testimonial. Quoting a portion of it here:
"Despite the grueling nature of the physical training, he had endured the demanding sessions without any complaints. He had even taken the initiative to encourage his peers in striving to complete their training. During competitions, Andre has always shown his presence. On the court, he plays to his utmost and fights hard for every single point. Off the court, he is supportive and motivates his team mates throughout their games...He had demonstrated that he is a caring and nurturing leader. He treated his peers and juniors with respect and yet still managed to demand standards and quality from them. He is patient towards the beginning players and would work tirelessly with them in practicing their fundamental skills."
It's so heart-warming to know that Andre's efforts have not gone unnoticed (especially since the badminton teacher is a man of few words, so it was a real surprise to read such ardent praise). Andre also received a testimonial from his form teacher, as is the normal practice for all graduating students. Here's a snippet of what she wrote:
"Andre is extremely good-natured, often the peacemaker in difficult situations. He gets along easily with everyone regardless of differences in cultural background. He is sensitive to peers and has a strong sense of empathy due to his ability to see and understand from the perspectives of others. Andre works very well with others, contributing positively and effectively in teams. Andre shows the potential to be both a follower and a mover. He can adapt easily to situations, follow instructions or step up to lead others. He is a promising youth with aspirations."
I picked this snippet because I think the teacher has summed up how Andre's character has grown and solidified over the last four years. Today, when I look at Andre, I see someone who's compassionate, humorous and well-liked - qualities that I believe are what maketh a man. Many people have said, and it's true, that it's the secondary school years that mold a boy's character. For this, I give a lot of credit to the school for consistently looking at every facet of his development more than just academic, and giving him the space and opportunities to discover himself and develop his abilities.

To the school, thank you for helping my son blossom. You score an A+ in my books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful that he got a chance to take on a leadership position despite his not-so-good grades. Some schools would not allow this. All the best for his O Levels :)

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