Something about this #lifebeyondgrades campaign pisses me off

By cikaphu

This campaign serves no purpose other than a circle jerk for upper-class successful parents on the "in" way to raise a child. And getting these elite "influencer mommies" aren't helping either. When you got 27x for your PSLE and say your grades don't matter it's like a billionaire telling you money doesn't matter in life. I'm sure your success did not stem from the system or the environment you grew up in. I'm sure your beautiful life of a nice house, nice family and financial freedom did not come from that doctor's degree.

<< Good parents, good early education, good primary school, good environment- GOOD GRADES - good secondary school, good connections (from other elite kids), good junior college, good university degree - free to do what you want in life with no financial burden >> This is the mantra that most parents live by or aspire towards simply because it works statistically and obviously breeds significant personal success (as demonstrated by all these influencers photographed above).

Seriously, everyone wants their kids to be free to do whatever they want in life, to break free from society's meritocratic chains- but in reality, how many families can afford to do so? So my son with a PSLE T-score of 180 and who studies in Chai Chee Secondary plays DOTA for hours everyday, should I therefore encourage him to become a professional gamer because grades don't matter and he should follow his "passion"? How about that family of 7 living in a 3 room flat with a granny who requires kidney dialysis? Should the parents tell ah girl to just pursue her dream of being a KPOP star?

Look, I'm all for a life beyond grades- I'd want my kids to be free and creative. But creating a campaign asking parents to alter their mindsets is just over-idealistic, narrow minded and to some extent elitist. I really feel grades still do matter to develop basic discipline, language skills and critical thinking, not least to help an individual achieve realistic personal goals later in life.

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Edit: Yes, I am aware folks with less stellar PSLE scores were also featured in the campaign- and I totally respect and appreciate their stories. However, it's also important to note that these stories were cherry-picked to create an over rosy narrative - where parents should just chill as far as academic success is concerned because their kid could very well be the next Royston Tan. Yet statistically, how many people who never did well in school actually achieved much in their adult lives? Food for thought.

This is an extremely complex social/education issue- There are many things wrong with our education system, and there are many (social) reasons why kids don't obtain good grades. But to me, a campaign like this serves no purpose and it washes over real problems parents face in today's society. What if Joseph Schooling ends up being a very mediocre swimmer and drains his parent's life savings? Will we still hear of his name? How many parents are willing to take the risk - especially when they hail from average backgrounds?

Simply asking parents to shift their perspectives obviously isn't going to work, and having elite individuals convey this message makes things even worse. Just some background information on the ladies featured in the above photographs (i honestly have nothing against them, let me state for the record):

Dr Elaine (276) is a trained doctor from an elite family

Amanda Eng (271) has a BBA in Finance and is a former Rafflesian.

Jaelle Ang (270) studied in Hwa Chong Boarding School and subsequently architecture in uber prestigious UCL Bartlett

Would their voices be relevant to the average Singaporean?

Every parent knows the Bill Gates story, every parent wants a holistic education for their child. It's much easier said than done. There are indeed many other ways a kid can succeed in life, but again, how many families can afford to let their kid throw caution to the wind and explore without consequence in this unforgiving meritocratic world?

Editor's Note: Life Beyond Grades is an initiative started by five parents (Tjin Lee, Dolores Au, Aarika Lee, Derek Ong and Charmaine Seah) in a rather ambitious attempt to cultivate a mass mindset shift away from solely focusing on scoring well in exams.


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