Yes, a difference exists between studying in an elite and neighbourhood school

By prettyfascinatinghah

First things first: yours sincerely studied in an elite primary school, then went on to attend a neighbourhood secondary school.

An elite school is usually dominated by Chinese. Non-Chinese (used to) have to study the Chinese lanaguge too, though I heard that it might not be the case now. In my neighbourhood school, I came to appreciate why the subject was termed "mother tongue" and not simply "Chinese". Also, in my primary school, we had to recite the Singapore pledge in Mandarin on certain days. Turns out, you don't do that in neighbourhood schools.

Overall, the elite primary school I studied in had really well-behaved kids. The worst one was a very annoying boy who kept screaming in class. But I reckon he suffered from ADHD - he was eventually transferred elsewhere. People were practically geniuses. So many people were gifted in both sports and academics; add to that they were sociable and friendly. They also usually came from good family backgrounds. I remembered in P1, there was this classmate of mine who was so damn smart, the teacher struggled with attempts to penalize his essay because it was too good. But she didn't want to award full marks either because we always needed to improve. In P2, he transferred to another better school because he was apparently a genius. This happens more often than usual. And well, we read a lot, worked hard and had lots of fun. Oh by the way point to note: mine was a christian school and there was a strong focus on God. I believed it was good because it helped mould me into a person of greater faith - I was able to pick myself up on several occasions despite falling hard. That being said, I'm not particularly religious.

As for standardized exams, this is an amusing one. It's more difficult to secure a distinction in an elite school compared to a neighbourhood school. One needed to score 80 marks in order to qualify for Band 1 grading in my primary school; correspondingly only 75 marks were required in my friend's neighbourhood school.

It was however a wild wild west of sorts in my neighbourhood secondary school. Firstly, there was the Express, Normal Academic (NA), Normal Technical (NT) differentiation. I was lucky to have made friends from the various streams and they really opened my eyes to a lot of new things. They were inherently good people with beautiful souls, just sometimes, unfortunate things befell a few of them and they turned out much more differently than expected. Anyways, it was where I learnt about short skirts, ankle socks, coloured hair, smoking (wtffff) and cursing. Punishments meted out were also more severe, such as being made to run laps around the school field - you could see that students were more defiant, in general. That being said, I acquired a whole lot more life lessons there than anywhere else. I learnt how to deal with different kinds of people, manage my own time and deal with asshole teachers (democracy is overrated).

When you are being educated in an elite school, it's not unusual to develop unconscious elitism. I simply did not know what was out there in the world (perhaps also ignorance on my part because I didn't care) to appreciate my supposed status in society. I was entitled. Whilst studying in a neighbourhood school, I witnessed first-hand the gulf of difference between various individual personalities and these knocked quite a few important insights into me, thus hastening the growing up process (or perhaps it's simply just puberty)

Studying in an elite school neighbourhood school-will I turn out the same? This is a good question. I think it's tough to answer. Who I am today is determined by the environment and situations encountered rather than simply education itself, although admittedly it does play a part. I'd say that in a supremely generalised statement, primary school and secondary schools are not entirely dissimilar beyond what I have articulated above. As far as I am concerned the decisions made after attempting the 'O' Levels were the ones that truly shaped my destiny and made me who I am today. That being said attending primary and secondary schools were helpful stepping stones. Had I enrolled in a different set of schools back then, I reckon some of my personal values might have been redefined, still it probably wouldn't yield an entirely different outcome in the long run after I have graduated from them.

For some strange ass reason, Singapore companies seem to frequently enjoy enquiring about your secondary school, even though it does not matter a single bit. Even when applying for university and subsequent scholarships, you still have to cite where you originally hailed from. Seriously, if your 'O' Level grades are outstanding, why even bother about which secondary school you studied in previously? And when you talk about seeking employment abroad, no one gives two hoots about the university you attended, much less your pre-tertiary schools.

If you are still a student, I'd strongly recommend you look beyond your little world. Get a proper grip on reality; you are nobody special and therefore not entitled to preferential treatment. In this day and age, you are just merely a lucky mofo to have been born in Singapore. If you were born into a Yemeni family, completing homework assignments would be the least of your worries. You're so fortunate to be receiving quality education at an extremely low cost. Strive to be a better human and bring joy to others around you.

If you are a parent, please impart the right values to your kids. Stop focusing on merely doing well in examinations. For your child to really succeed, they must be imbued with the right core beliefs. E.g. working both hard and smart, exercising proper time management, being able to network with peers, having compassionate and leadership qualities. Teach them to contribute in various ways to society. For instance, visiting sick children at the hospital and doing some art & craft with them, performing at the community centre for the elderly, getting together to play sports with people of all physical abilities or even going to flea markets during weekend to interact with old folks setting up shop on the premises.

Thank you for reading.


All schools are good schools? Don't believe that shit.

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