Aliyah got her yearly school report yesterday. Her placement in her class had dropped from 4th to 14th. I had initially refrained from saying anything much, because I know she’d hoped for a better placing in class. Clearly she was disappointed and frustrated. But seriously I wasn't that worried about her because I know she is very bright. I bet her intelligence far surpasses my husband’s and I combined, and I am not just saying this because she’s my daughter. Sometimes she amazes me with what she can do. At times, I wonder to myself, ‘are you sure she’s yours’? Haha… But with the amount of people that kept saying she look like me, which I failed to see by the way, I guess I should be grateful Allah has bestowed me with such a clever girl. Now I must work at turning this clever girl to be a well-rounded person. That would require a lot of of skills and tact.
Aliyah is a perfectionist and a very cautious person, which somewhat made her appears snobbish at times. She’s also highly competitive, but easily initially frustrated with something new. These combinations can be problematic as it can be a lethal potion leading one to be a self-absorbed, self-centered person. The new KSSR curriculum implemented at her school although only having 40% exams’ result taken into consideration has somewhat fueled that competitiveness in her. As you can see from her report below, at the end of the day, the tests she took throughout the year still play an important role for the school to decide on the students' placement every year, including her overall band rates. Parents can campaigned for zero placement in school, or the very least the placement not being emphasized upon, but that also means there will be no Hari Anugerah Cemerlang and the likes. Most importantly, most teachers may have difficulty finding some ways of identifying how well or not their students are doing. I am sure they are ways to go about it. But seriously, they all involved hard work and many many man hours.
I am not saying that being competitive is not good, it has somehow motivates her to perform well in school. But I’m saying that being competitive simply for the sake of being good at something is not good enough. She risked not wanting to learn something new and motivate her self-learning venture when she feels she won’t be able to be good at it. Hence, most times she would be learning something and be good at it simply to show off to her classmates instead of learning something for the sake of learning to find out about something. I guess, Malaysian schools do that to you, regardless of how they planned on changing the curriculum and methods of teaching and what made it worst parents help fueled that competitive rage too. Hey, I am one of the products of Malaysian public schools. But to my father’s credit, he had instilled in me a different way of seeing things while I was in school. That’s what I needed to do with Aliyah. Rationalized a few things with her and make her see the bigger picture and that there’s a greater purpose in life, greater than just her.
In the meantime, while her father was busy giving her a pep talk on improving her future results, I just smiled and gave a small laugh. Deep down, although I had wished she did well (all parents would have the same wish, of course), I am also glad she did not do as well as last term. To her credit, she was in the class with 43 of the brightest students in SP, half of these students’ parents are the ‘who’s who’ in SP. You named all the common professions available and you’ll have at least one parent of the student holding such position. I wonder at times whether I should have just let her stay in the last class, where her classmates’ backgrounds are less privileged. But then I risked putting her in the position whereby she’ll always be first in her class, thus inflating her already on the way ballooning ego.
Having such result this term would make her realize a few things; one – she’s not the only bright student in the class, and two – to be successful she need to work hard at improving her grasp of things and eventually her overall performance in class. The result in my view was a blessing in disguise. Aliyah now needs to learn to be less cautious and uptight, and open up to learn things beyond her comfort zone and understand that it requires her several tries before she will finally be good at something.
As you can see in her result above, she’s pretty weak in Mathematics and Science. She has no difficulty with languages and clear cut straight forward concepts in other subjects. Once she grasped the concept behind a topic or subject, they stick with her. Her memory and memorization of things is excellent. But she’ll only remember things that she understands. She has somehow trained herself not to memorize things she doesn't understand in the first place. So when it comes to logic, things that appear frequently in Mathematics and Science, until and unless she understood the logic behind the concept, she simply won’t budge. It’s rather annoying at times getting her to understand simple mathematical and scientific concepts. And most students in her class will just memorize these things (well, to Uwais’ credit, since he’s a visual person, that’s how he studies things too, see things, imprint them and makes a connection later). But Aliyah won’t do that. In that sense, her learning style is a lot like me. Things that don’t make sense will not register in my brain.
The traditional way the two subjects are taught in her school is not helping her grasp the logic behind certain concepts. What made it worst, when it comes to science, her school’s space constraints has made experimenting with certain concept of science rather non-existent. She’s at a loss. I can’t just wait for things to change any time soon. Which means I have would have had to do something about it – not shove her to tuition teachers, as most parents do these days. I need to get her to see the bigger picture first. Yesterday, once home from taking the report, I asked her to place a call to my father reporting her result. She told him that Mama only gave a small laugh upon hearing her result, and my father, I noticed, was slightly shocked. Well, I know he was expecting more from me than a simple laugh. So I know then that it’s high time for me to sit her down and give her my version of the pep talk.
Let’s report the session in another post shall we? I have some more marking to do ;-)