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A Piece Of Cake

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October 11, 2007


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This is what I think, Suwei. Because the PSLE paper is getting harder, even for kids who have tuition 6 days a week, is the very reason why some parents I have come across, are going the DSA route. Hire personal trainers, push kids for competitions, etc. Perhaps we should discuss DSA sometime soon.


The public education system has left me disillusioned. I did not enjoy the learning process at all. Every semester was geared at producing As and there was hardly (if any) emphasis on enjoying the learning process. By the time we are ready to enter the working force, our brains are already so tired and jaded that we don't see the joy in daily tasks anymore.

Many of my peers want to leave this country for another simply because the stress levels here are so high. Who knows? Singapore might be facing a brain drain because of the way it's trying to be "creative" and "kiasu" at the same time. It won't work, and most of us have the sense of self-preservation to leave before it drains our life completely, or at least, so that our families and next generation will have a better life.

I'm so glad your kids are being homeschooled, they will always have something other kids don't have - a chance to enjoy learning.


Dear Sharie, you HAVE to keep me up to date. What on earth is DSA?

Dear Germ, I thank God for the opportunity to guide my children in their learning journey. I do pray for grace not to kill their joy in learning too. :OP I believe even homeschoolers have that potential if we don't do it right.

God bless you! I pray you will find new interest and vigour in pursuing your studies. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. :O)


Hi Suwei
DSA is Direct School Admission. You know, short cut to branded schools through sports, arts achievemetns, etc. The buzz is, many parents are trying to push and prepare their kids to get into top secondary schools not via the PSLE route. So they gear their kids for more practices and competitions so that the kids have something to show for DSA; thus not having to focus THAT much on PSLE.


Oh I see... That's why so many parents are pushing their children in sports right? Do you think we'll become like the Americans and have sportsmen who get into college to play sports and win games for the college but nto be able to do their maths or read properly?

Norman Tien

As an educator and parent, I am sad to see the escalating change in the level of difficulties of math questions set in schools' exam papers, years after years.

However, parents normally blame the authorities or the schools for setting difficult exam questions but did they really find out who are the cause to all these?

Schools are always in a fix as to whether they should set difficult questions or easy ones, especially for their P6 prelim exams.

Schools will receive complains from parents regardless what they do. For setting a fair paper whereby most students will score, they receive complains for not preparing the students enough. For setting extremely challenging questions that is in line with the so called PSLE standard whereby most students will fail, they will also receive complains for being unrealistic!

Ask yourself, why is our education system moving towards this KS direction?

Look at the following 2 questions and you will understand what i meant.

Do you know which type of assessment books sells best in Singapore, the easy ones that build fundemental & concepts for true understanding OR the very challenging ones that most parents' themselves cannot solve?
The answer: the challenging ones!

Do you know which type of school is highly sought after in Singapore, the not so famous neighbourhood schools or the elite ones?
The answer: the elite ones!
(for your information, from my own survey, parents define elite schools as elites because the standard of their schools' examinations are higher than those who are not!)

Please do not get me wrong, I do not represent the schools nor am I from our education ministry.

I am just a concerning parent, worried about our education system, as well as a business owner of a math learning center, constantly finding new ways to help bridge students to meet this fast changing system.

In my business, I am concerned of the growing trends whereby many parents are pushing their children to meet higher demand
despite knowing that their children might not have grasped the fundemental yet!

Many parents are asking for GEP trainings whereby their child's cognitive skills might not have fully developed to meet this special education system.

In fact, I am studying more about home schooling as i intend to do so for my 2 school going children.
On top of academic skills, i can spend more time nuturing them to do well in things they enjoy doing most!



Dear mr Tien,

Thank you for your thoughts and input! I appreciate the dialogue.

If you are doing more research into homeschooling, well, one of the reasons that this blog exists is for that!

I guess another reason this blog exists is to let people know that, yes, we live in a kiasu, I- must-win society, but we needn't buy into that philosophy if we don't want to.

Stepping out of the system has aided me in doing that.


Hi Suwei. 2 things. Yes, I think Singapore is definitely moving towards that direction, of the US. Many kids excelling in sports are offered elite schools. Next, the education system is becoming more and more kiasu because the KS parents have set it up this way. Challenging Math assessement books are flying off the racks. Being a confused mum that I am, I need to know, in your professional opinion - what happens to kids like my children whom I refuse to put pressure on and are in neighbourhood schools. As a homeschooling expert, perhaps you can tell me how do homeschooled kids survive in Singapore - educationally and later in their lives when they go out into the workforce. Employers are also kiasu - I'm sure they want to look at school records, right? Ok I believe in lifelong education, to instill basic concepts so that the children understand and can solve mathematical problems with ease, not feeling threatened. But how do you keep up and prepare the kids for PSLE when kids attending mainstream with a large dose of tuition, still struggle with examinations? I am truly trapped - in not wanting to pressure my kids yet, having to go with the flow.


my dear friend Sharie,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! :O)

First off, I have to say that I'm not a homeschool expert.:OP There's lots more i need to learn and I believe God is still guiding my steps. :O)

I do understand your heart about not wanting to unnecessarily pressurize your dear kids but the system compels you to have to stretch them further than they are ready.

Putting your kids in the system necessitates that they have to be subjected to it, doesn't it? Putting them in the school necessitates that the school and the system will take over the education of the child, whatever way, whether you like it or not. It's really hard to get around that.

Not to say that the system is like totally evil. There's plenty of good things to be said about our education system. The system works for some/ most folks. But it doesn't work for some folks. We cannot be fitted into a cookie cutter mold.

Sadly, I have to say, it's a choice you have to make. But happily, I may say that it is a choice you CAN make.

If I were a mom in your present situation, I think I would just instill in them that doing their best is important and I'll be happy if they just do their best.

And what is most important is that they don't loose heart. Once they loose heart, it's very hard to pick themselves up to try. SO that would be what I would do my best to secure.

It can be very demoralizing though when they struggle and struggle and still can't do the work that is pegged artificially higher than what they may be capable of doing.

As for your other question about how homeschoolers will be, thanks you for it. May I take it on in a separate post?

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