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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Class Streaming in School

In my kid's school, they have a smart class and a class that needs more help and everything else is in between. My girl is in the smart class. Smart Class kids have the best teachers whose job is to groom the kids to get at least 7As in UPSR. That's what my girl told me last year. "Mummy, teacher said the smart class must get 7As in UPSR or else....." She was in Std 2 last year and UPSR is in Std 6. "Grooming" begins early, I see. What does "grooming" mean?

When I spoke to the class teacher last year, she said "They are the "harapan" (hope) of the school. We hope that they will score at least 7As in UPSR. Onl;y the best will be in the smart class. If you are very good in studies but you have bad attitude, out you go. We, the teachers put in so much effort to help them. So we do not want to waste our effort on the naughty ones who don't do their work, like this boy here or that one...."  she pointed exasperatedly obviously frustrated.

I asked the HM whether they will have extra homework as I heard and he said "Congratulations if you are in the smart class because it is not easy to be there but if your kid is there that means he is smart and capable to do more so.........." So they do get extra homework and work is taught very fast so that the teacher can cover more.

Even last year when kids were doing spelling of words, the teacher gave the kids sentences to memorise because they are in smart class, said the teacher. I also remember them having a lot of little tests (Xiao Kao) and Chinese spelling (Ting Seah), almost every other day. This year my girl tells me it will be twice a week and daily when exam is near. Last year, their teacher told them that she will not accept it if they score 80% and below for their "Ting Seah" because they are in smart class.

Plus, every kid is smart, scoring 90s to 100s for most subjects. It is a pressure cooker indeed and they are pushed hard by the school to perform. Not only are the students pushed, I do believe the teacher is also under pressure to perform or to make sure the students perform. I believe they pass on some of that pressure to the kids. Once my girl told me that those who constantly do badly in "ting seah" were called up to the front of the class. They had to stand in a row, hold up their books for all to see and have their picture taken by teacher and posted on the wall. How very awful and degrading.

Now, we are caught in a bit of a bind. We encouraged our girl to be good in her studies because she has low self esteem. Being good at something increases her confidence. She is a diligent and hardworking girl. Last year she won two trophies, one for being 4th in class and the other for being 7th in the standard. She was just bursting with pride when she went on stage to collect her trophies. That has increased her confidence. However I think it may also have increased her pressure to perform as well. Sometimes this pressure comes not only from parents and teachers and peers but from within oneself as well.

Once, when I saw her after school, she was looking dejected. When I asked her why, she showed me a paper where she scored over 90. She was sad because she did not get 100. That is horrible, being sad for getting over 90? I quickly reminded her that over 90 is very good indeed and she should be smiling happily, not looking like she was going to cry. I constantly remind her that it is not the results that counts. It is the effort. As long as you try your best at something, that is the most important thing of all. And if you fail, then you should learn from your lesson and try harder the next time but it is perfectly alright to fail. You should not give up just because you fail or don't do well, you should try again but it is ok to fail. Not everyone is good at everything.

I am really worried about this girl sometimes. Because of her health condition, she can't have too much pressure and stress but she is in exactly in that kind of situation. She is also a worried, anxious and have poor self esteem child. It helps that she does well in school but then it doesn't if she has too high a yardstick as a measure of performance. There is little room for improvement and it is hard to maintain that kind of high level. If she falls off her own yardstick wouldn't that be worse for her self confidence? I want to build her self esteem in other areas, not only in studies because that is not the only thing that counts (and it definitely should not be the only thing that counts) but then we hardly have the time for anything else! I really don't know what to do sometimes. How to get out of this?

And then there is the boy to consider. If his sister is in the smart class and he does not perform as well, will he start comparing himself to her? They have enough sibling rivalry as it is even without school work and performance coming into the picture.

Maybe I think too much. I should just let the kids find their own equilibrium. But then which parent does not think too much? That is all part and parcel of being a parent. We worry about our kids all the time. Parenting is a mixture of feelings of love, pride, worry, frustration, joy, etc etc.


  1. MG, don't worry because from all that you share, I take my hat off to you for doing a superb job with your kids. Read this excerpt from a latest book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (and if u have time, all the readers' comments)and I'm sure you know where you stand. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond

  2. you did a good job n your girl is smart...

    when kid in smart class, there is pro n con... when not smart also got pro n con...

    not easy....

  3. Anna,
    Thanks for the link. I find the comments section much more interesting. If one has time to sieve through all the comments you may get gems of parenting tips and ideas in there.

    Yah, there are certainly pros and cons in every area.

  4. Hi MG,

    I am not interested in whether my boy will score 7As in UPSR if this is the price to pay to get there. I am rather sad to have to forego his Art classes to give way to HanYuPinYin classes. He loves drawing so much but we only have this much of time..

    He has "ting xie" in Chinese, Science and Moral too (all Chinese) other than Ejaan and Spelling which means he has it every other day. I am quite relieved though he is quite a nature in languages but a bit weak in Maths. He has no maths enrichment classes so I have to make sure he practises his maths daily too.

    I feel blessed that I am a SAHM. Doing revision at night is totally out (he is in afternoon school) as it is reserved for doing his homework. As teaching at school is at ligtning speed, I have to revise the subjects taught with him every morning before the teachers move on to new chapters. What a life, huh..

    With the hardships we have to go through, I still think roughing out our kids a little from young is indeed a good training to prepare them for the future as long as they take them well. I have no regrets in sending my boy to a Chinese school, still. :) I always tell my boy that as long he tries his best in anything he does, that's what that matters..result is secondary.

  5. Inspired Mom,
    My kids love art but never had the chance to attend any art class. My girl with her health problem needs sleep so I did not allow her to attend any extra-curricular activities in Std 1 or 2 but in Std 3 it is compulsory so no choice. To make up for their lack of time, I am the Art Teacher, the gym teacher, the English teacher, the BM teacher, the Science teacher and back-up Music teacher. The father teaches them Maths. The only thing we can't teach is Chinese. lol. All work and no play makes Jack and Jill and dull boy and girl so I am also "play" teacher if there is such a thing plus I have to make sure they get plenty of rest. And thats what makes SAHMs like us busy like MAD!!!


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