When we climbed into the car in the late morning, I remarked tenderly "If you don't do as well as you had hoped, I will still love you."
And Little Boy replied cheerfully "I know Mom!"
I didn't know that parents could accompany the kids into the hall to collect results so I dropped Little Boy and went off with the day's newspapers to get me a coffee. The voice that came over the phone squeaked excitedly about being invited to his friends' house and that please may he go... please... and that I wouldn't need to drive out and fetch him home later because he is old enough to go home on his own.
In that entire tirade, he hadn't once mentioned his PSLE results. Sigh! I rolled my eyes at my coffee and asked "Aren't you gonna tell me what you scored? Aren't you coming to the coffeeshop to at least show me your results slip? You can't just pop off like that and leave me here! That's so rude!"
Little Boy came by in a whirlwind, thrust his results slip at me and some greenish sealed letter. Little Boy said, "We were told not to open that till we see our parents. But now I have no time. Let's open it together when I get home tonight?" Clearly, PLAY was vastly more important than PSLE.
Little Boy did somewhat better than his sister at PSLE, despite being in a school with poor teaching support and materials... AND he had no tuition. He also did well enough to take French as a 3rd language. Of all the news released yesterday, I think Little Boy was most thrilled about French. He'll have the opportunity to learn something that he has been bugging me to teach him since forever.
We're relieved and happy. I didn't quite want to write this post at first. However, a good many blog friends (and a few people that I have never met) have emailed me and it seems rude not to at least share a little. However, there are many reasons not to publish Little Boy's t-score here. Firstly, Petunia supports MOE's blackout on PSLE results (errrr... not that Little Boy scored anywhere near the top scores). Secondly, Little Boy is not comfortable that a whole world of faceless netizens be clearly in the know of his actual t-score. Thirdly, (unlike The Daughter at A levels) Little Boy is not the only boy in our circle of friends taking PSLE, and we don't want to make too much of his t-score because it makes no sense to make this or that other child (whom we also love) feel less worthy because of one silly number.
Agree With Shanmuguratnam
I quite agree with Shanmugaratnam that the fine differentiation of PSLE t-score is unnecessary. Do you know that the t-score is differentiated to SIX decimal places? It's quite different from the A levels where you get As and Bs. The PSLE t-score makes stark the inconsequential difference between 2 kids with 265 and 266. The latter being more worthy than the former. It has long been well known to Human Resource professionals that performance appraisals that rank order staff OPENLY, will stimulate high levels of inter-individual competition. We usually institutionalise such a manner of staff appraisal in companies where no one needs to work in teams... e.g., used car salesmen. In an increasingly interconnected and complex world, problems need teams to resolve. I believe the power of collaboration (not competition) is the way forward.
The PSLE End-All
And I can't help but think that there are children who did very poorly indeed. The lowest score this year was an unforgiving 43 printed on a results slip like a death sentence knelling "You are a loser. You have the lowest score. You'll never amount to anything in life". What kind of monstrous mind
(1) devised the PSLE aggregate,
(2) prints the highest score
(3) AND the lowest score on EACH results slip
... to break the hearts of little 12 year olds?
Has anyone thought of how the child will feel... who gets 43 ... and sees also, on the same paper that he/she has the LOWEST score of the whole country? Now, you seriously expect that child to believe that PSLE is not an end-all? Bear in mind too that the child who got 43 probably doesn't have loving and attentive parents to counsel and comfort him/her. The little 12 year old is all ALONE staring at the 43 that is HIS own score, AND the 43 that is printed in the bottom right hand corner, next to the words "This Year's Lowest Aggregate Score".
The majority of kids and parents are not kiasu because there are top scorers they will never hope to match up to. The majority of kids and parents compete tooth and nail because no one wants to be at or near the 43 aggregate. Fear is an effective motivator. However, it warps the spirit, destroys the joy of learning new things and causes burnout.
PSLE T-Score... a Non-Event
This X'mas and CNY, we intend to treat the PSLE t-score as a non-event. It's over. It was a vastly unpleasant 2 years of stressful learning and unnecessary competition engendered by a fine-grained student appraisal mechanism. We don't have fond memories of it. That Little Boy emerged relatively unscathed is every reason to not rub salt into the wounds of other children.