School Pressure

I congratulate all the graduating students this year. Because you have reached this far, that means you have hurdled the challenges and in the process made yourselves bigger than all these problems.

But good for you. Not everyone is able to make it. And in other countries, these school pressures have resulted to suicide even among young children.

A recent report indicated that the Bureau of Education in Hongkong is in quandary and in crisis over four pupils who committed suicide in just five days.

The government of Hongkong has provided more psychologists to the schools in response to this emergency. But an official expressed that the deployment of these psychologists is not the answer to this problem. It is only a band aid solution.

And I agree. Psychologists can only do so much. The fundamental cause of the problem, as the officials sees it, is on the score-oriented education system that had been putting increasing pressure on schools, parents and especially children.

Our very own educational system is not very far from that of Hongkong. We rely so much on test scores and point system. After school, we give our students bulk of homework to do. On top of that, we enroll our kids to every class conceivable; from tutorials to ballet, to music, arts and crafts, and the list is endless.

On their own, it’s not so bad. But when parents, school, and teachers, put so much emphasis on achievement, we are unduly putting pressure on our children. And the result can be as devastating as suicide.

We have become a very competitive society. And we know what competition does. We pit them against each other. That is not very healthy. And as a parent and psychologist, I make sure that I mitigate the pressure on my children by valuing them as they are and not much on what they achieve.

It is better to focus on effort than achievement. With effort, there is so much room for improvement without much pressure. With focus on achievement, there is not much space to be creative…especially to fail.

Significant lessons in life are learned only through failures. It is not healthy to overprotect our children from them. And when a school system is so tight about children’s mistakes, they unwittingly create a divide, a label, with those who are able on one side and the not so able on the other side.

Many of the kids in Hongkong are depressed. They are very busy with a lot of things but too little meaningful interaction with others. And with the mounting pressure, they easily bail out…yes, by killing themselves.

This is scary indeed. Life is not only about getting high scores and points. It is also about making mistakes, and failing without being judged at all.

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