The question I am asking is this. Is this paper indicative of actual PSLE standards? Is this paper pitched at the levels of the best schools in the nation? If the answer to both questions is "yes", then Little Boy is likely to do rather poorly for Math because he had had no exposure in class to questions of comparable difficulty. And we thought that practicing on past year Top School papers (which Little Boy has no problems completing, except for one particular year's paper from Nanyang Primary School) was sufficient.
Clearly not. I am told that his PSLE prelim paper was even more difficult that the one from Nanyang Primary.
The little fellow (called N) who had scored 85, has a Math tutor who was happy to leverage upon the boy's innate talent for Math to stretch the child way beyond the work done in class. One needs both talent AND practice. Little Boy has talent but I was merely contented with standards of the status quo. Not kiasu enough, you see. I thought enough is enough and wanted Little Boy to play more in the sun. Who would have thought that his school would set a paper some notches more difficult than even the Top School papers? So, how much is enough?
I was on the phone with a GEP Mommy 2 nights ago. She was horrified that in one of her daughter's tests, only ONE child out of 25, passed. Failing has become the norm. I don't agree with such teaching methods. Failure is extremely demotivating in some situations... and it is NOT because the child is not resilient. Don't blame the child. Resilience can be developed. People are not born resilient. There are some situational psychological factors that need to be controlled/manipulated before failure can be used to motivate in a healthful manner.
We are 1 month away from PSLE. What is the point of stressing the children thus? Little Boy is quite happy with his 69 marks because the best students have all scored in the low 70s and high 60s. The average students... have failed. Imagine the tense emotional situations at home. Think of the stressed parents.
On my part, I felt my heart sink to the pit of my stomach. Momentarily, I felt a whiplash of anger that I almost did not catch as it flicked out to hurt Little Boy, who was himself trying to maintain his emotional balance. I walked away instead. I refuse to play this game. It is too late to gain more competence and exposure to stretch his capability. To begin with, I will need time to source for questions of such extreme difficulty. There is no way to do this without signing up with an enrichment centre, because we don't have a Math expert at home. The questions in even the most difficult of Popular's assessment books are easy for Little Boy. Where is there time to evaluate and register and practice? All it will do is stress Little Boy.
At this point, stress is something we can do without. I've deliberately slowed the pace at home so that we have calm energy. So... it's just too bad. If what we have done is not enough, then Little Boy and I will dive for cover and I will use my body to shield his smaller one. I will feel all the pain, the anger, the disappointment and the fear... but I will shield his psyche from all this so that he can stay calm and feel confident.