Reading some of my friends status updates inspired me to share my story. I remember a few years back, this time of the year, when the school holidays are nearing and all the proud parents post pictures of their children getting top places in class and best student award and this and that, and my child was struggling in school, or maybe more accurately to say that my child was struggling to live up… to my expectations, perhaps, I’m not sure.
The year my eldest child started primary school was in short, a nightmare year for me.
The experience was so bad that I hesitated many times to write it. Now I see that there might be some people who need to hear the story and so, I will share it.
I am merely being factual by stating that I had never had any academic challenges through out school and university. The only exams I ever failed were the postgraduate ones and that was more due to time management and the ‘career versus children’ dilemma more than anything else. I also failed my Irish drivers license exam twice, due to lack of experience (and a much higher standard than the Malaysian drivers test, I passed the local one when I was 18 and the Irish one when I was 28).
My husband is the same. We were good students of the system. We were amongst the best students of the system. Why was our child having problems?
In a way, it didn’t make sense. But looking back I am so glad for the experience, because it has thought me so much more than having an overachiever child has ever thought me.
When my second child ‘graduated’ from kindergarten a few years back, I cried because I thought “This is the end of my care-free days with this one”, but our experience this time was the complete opposite, despite doing nothing different in terms of parenting.
What is my point? My point is, it is not the child that is the problem. If your child is not the best in the class or the top in the school, that doesn’t mean that your child will not do well later in life.
What is the problem then, I hear you ask. Valid question. The problem is the system.
Our schools (in Malaysia) rewards children who have strengths in logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic and visual-spatial types of multiple intelligence. But if you look around the world and at people who are successful, there are many more kinds of intelligences that are not awarded in our current system. This is sad and wrong.
I believe everyone (and every child) is special, everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses that make them unique. Education should be helping people discover their strengths, and learn how to harness and leverage it, and at the same time identify weaknesses and help develop strategies of how these can be minimised or overcome.
Instead of pitting children against one another (no1,no2,no3), why not award every child for any achievement regardless of how trivial it is? Why don’t we utilise the power of positive encouragement and parenting (catching the child doing something right instead of looking out for their mistakes)? Understand that the child who is no1 might not have needed to work as hard as another child who struggled to learn to read. Is it fair to compare apples with oranges?
I could probably write a whole book on the flaws of our current education system (please take note that my emphasis is on the word system, not teacher or headmaster/mistress, analogous to healthcare system, the faults are not the doctors and nurses, they only work there) complete with suggestions on what should be done to make it better, that might be my next book. I am truly grateful for my children and the lessons that they have taught me and continue to teach me.See More
  • Azhan Khazari this i gotta share it, boleh ke?
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Sure Azhan Khazari, just credit the writer, thanks.
  • Azhan Khazari shared, by default, credited.thanks
  • Rizuani Yati Abdul Hamid Well written mazlyn, can I share this?
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Of course Rizuani Yati, just credit the writer, thank you 🙂
  • Regina Foo Great article, shared. 🙂
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Thanks Regina, inspired by Nurainun 😉
  • Kartini Md Ariff This one I just had to share Mazlyn Mustapha
  • Kam Fatt Lee Very well said!
  • Nurainun Baniyamin Thanks!…we inspired each other girl…:)
  • Kharmila Abdullah That remind me of my post. Never compare our children with anyone…..including ourself.
  • Affa Mus Strongly agree with u. Pn  Mazlyn Mustapha may I share this? Rasa nk nangis baca.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Of course Affa Mus, remember, that which does not kill us only makes us stronger 😉
  • Alan Chan I cant agree with u more…on the education system. I cant hold a decent conversation with  junior officer, local petrol station worker, etc coz they dont know much abt what they do! Our uncles learn Bahasa from Bangladesh workers…our aunties learn Bahasa from her Indon Maid. Chinese Msian hardly speak Bahasa n English these days! Bring back English medium schools b4 its too late. Through English we improve on Bahasa.
  • Aida Nabilah I totally agree
  • Nor Asyikin Yahya U were born to be an ‘artist’ Mazlyn Mustapha  brilliant thoughts in most of ur wall
  • Mazlyn Mustapha I’m a mix Nor Asyikin Yahya, I have equal interest in arts and science, music, sports (only recently discovered lol), but our education system makes us choose one or the other…why cant it be all? Thanks for the kind words.
  • Nor Asyikin Yahya Yeah mix is the word… anyway we have to choose in our live…that’s why we need ‘istikharah’
  • Alizah Ali The system is part of the problem. Our attitude towards education itself is another problem.
    Mazlyn Mustapha, if you keep up with these types of article, schools like MRSM Taiping will be decommissioned 🙂
  • Shanny Maan Very well written Mazlyn .i so agree with u n can relate to u on this 🙂
  • Mazlyn Mustapha The school can be improved, as it is part of a faulty system which is in dire need of upgrading.
  • Malisa Ami I agree with you Mazlyn. That’s why many parents opt to send their children to private schools with international syllabus. Unfortunately for the average joe, this is not possible.
    I agree we should harness a child’s potential as best we can. And our system is very competitive. I really don’t agree that kids should able to read short story books b4 entering primary 1!!!
    Our educational system should be changed to suit the developmental stages of a child. Preschool children learn thru play and not designed to be sitting down at desks to complete workbooks!
    Our problem is the emphasis on academic achievement at too young an age. Children should be taught to be inquisitive and enjoy the process of learning at the early stages. Then we introduce them to more structured, formal form of teaching as appropriate for their age.
    But I do think the structured, formal type of education is important when children are much older. So they learn discipline and tenacity.

    Part of the prob is actually us, the parents. Everyone is pushing their children, so as not to be left behind, ie being kiasu (guilty as charged!) Even if we don’t mean to, we get sucked into this kiasu ness bcoz we want the best for our children. Can we just chill and let our children discover at their own pace? (note to self)

    But you know what? Those who don’t do well at school but have the right attitude will do better in the real world bcoz they have the tenacity to go through challenges and dare to take risks. Whereas straight A students will usually stick to a safe job and worry about all the possible failures that can occur (c’est moi).
    So, let’s just try to bring up our children with the right attitude and the best akhlak as these are the tools they need to face our fast paced, challenging world.

    God knows best.
    And yes Mazlyn, I’ll support you to bring this issue to the parliament

  • 美晴川島 u mean taught kan dr?<– refering to d last paragraph of your post
  • 美晴川島 btw nak share post ni 😀
  • Siti Marziah great article..^^
    izin kan nak share ye..^^
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Thanks, yes, please share 😉
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Dipersilakan saudara Rizal
  • Michael Khaw Your piece has indeed enlightened most parents whose anxiety for the future of their children seems unsurmountable. They feel hopeless with the current education system. They wanted the best for their children as each and every parent do. They just can’t afford the high cost of studying overseas. You have given them inspiration and hope by sharing your experience. Thank you.
  • Suziana Mahammad kot bi la sedikit sebyk trkena gak.
  • Lim Lian Cheoo Some example of positive encouragement:                                                                                                                =============================================================                                                                                             Child was 2nd last in class…                                                                                                                      Wise father:” Not bad , kid, at least you are better than one student!”                                                                        ————————————————————————————————————————–                                                                                                                                                                                       A father was looking at his child’s report card in front of the teacher, who commented that the child                              had failed in all subjects, the poor child was sitting with his head hung real low…                              Father ( paused ):” It’s ok kid, at least I can see some improvements in your report card!”  The teacher and the child turned to look at the father, who continued: “Your height and weight.”
  • Azniza Radzi Really love this. My first child will entering standard 1 next year. both of my first and second daughter didn’t get ‘the best student’ in their kindergarten and both of us (my husband and me) are consciously struggling to continue giving the positive words to them.

    Both of us believe, each of our kids have their own  strength and with the correct guidance from us, they will definitely will be

  • Azniza Radzi will become somebody who will benefit our addeen and be a good servant to ALLAH. insyaAllah 🙂

    (Please forgive my grammar. My English is not that good…)

  • Lim Lian Cheoo And those two kids went on to improve, years after years, finally completed universities …
    The father of the child who failed all subject heard one mother scolding her girl, just before his turn: ” useless girl, if you get 2 more points, you’ll be top of the school!” And kept nagging on and on…
  • Lim Connie Great experiences, pls continue to share…that’s why I placed my child in a private school which more concern on a child attitude, strength & learning ability!
  • Lim Lian Cheoo Mazlyn , what is face palm?
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Lim Lian Cheoo: it’s taking your hand and slapping it on your forehead while thinking ‘duh’!
  • Lim Lian Cheoo Duh! And it means that you meant ‘ I can’t believe it?’ Or your reaction to my story for such positive fathers?    ??
  • Yip Chee Wai These are all educated parents thought.  Poor children in rural area who rely on national education system and could not afford private school etc stand to lose a lot. It is never a level playing ground. MOE please help..
  • Andreja Rozman Mazlyn, congrats on this article! Sharing..
  • Nasriyah Abdul Rahman Tq…. just what I need after bashing myself up for not being a better mother who produces academic achievers in school…
  • Marziana Zain · 6 mutual friends

    Nasriyah Abdul Rahman  it’s always the parents who are racing to be the best academically. Kids get torn in between what they’d love to do and having to proof to their parent that they love them.  Yet we adult sometimes complain abt the lack of creativity among the young ones ( gen y). Just imagine a child can’t color the sky yellow as they see it but was force to color it blue as a mother instructs him/her to do do,  at a simple children’s coloring contest.  Parents are sometimes too lazy to have a meaningful conversation around what makes the child’s choices different from us adult. Ok .. Over and out(panjang berjela la pulak!)
  • Neurule Somme-Yong Abdul Jalal Mazlyn Mustapha – I so feel u. Three years ago I moved back to Kelantan to take care of my parents. I have 2 special kids. Next year I am hime schooling them. Lost my faith with the govt edu system fr the specisl kids. I am sharing your thoughts ya. Tq.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Hi & salam everyone, thanks for your comments and feedbacks and for sharing my story. I usually change setting for all posts to friends only every 24hours. You are most welcome to add me as a friend, if not the status will not be visible anymore. I am in the process of migrating all my fb statuses to two blogs but the process is still on-going.
  • Saliza Abd Aziz Something to ponder about too…. should we sacrifice creativity? So what kind of children do the government wants or what we want?.. but from the employer view on the current choices of candidates for employment are those scoring between CGPA of 2.8-3.2..(which means the middle group or the average Joe’s!) the main reason is because those high achieves (CGPA 3.5-4) cannot think beyond the box!!.. they need trouble shooters who can solve issues that is why even petronas has reduce the standard for their future employees…  my two cents thinking and giving my 10year old the joy of enjoying her primary school as long that she is in the middle range group..(I have 3 university going children. 1 currently doing her masters and proffesional exam, 1 finishing his degree soon, 1 finishing her diploma soon. so i have gone through it and done it all)
  • Saliza Abd Aziz Unless you are in medical.field..
  • Hana Shamsuddin Couldnt agree more. Just failed my part 3.. First ever major fail in my life. But felt ok. Becos when my daughter asked how i did, i apologized because it meant another 6 mths of me coming home late n leaving early. But she kissed my cheek and said, “t…See More
  • Neurule Somme-Yong Abdul Jalal I couldnt agree more with you and your hubby Hana Shamsuddin.
  • Rayna Sofia Our system should be revised. Period.