Expectations

SA2 is around the corner. And the morale was dampened by the recent suicidal case that involved a hapless P5 boy. Hence, I have decided that it was all too important to talk about this issue with my kids.

Me: Last week, a P5 boy had decided to end his life because it was the first time he had failed in an exam. Why do you think he chose the tragic path?

P4 boy: I have read that the parents had high expectations on him. He would get one stroke for every mark short of 70! 

Me: Do you think he had high expectations on himself? 

P4 boy: Not sure. Maybe he has had high expectations on himself!

Then, I have decided to push the boundary by challenging the notion that parents’ expectations should take precedence over everything.

Me: Whose expectations are more important? Your parents or your own? 

P4 class (unanimously): Of course our parents’.

Me: Why wouldn’t your expectations on yourself matter?

P4 class: (The sad truth) we study for our parents’. 

Me: Not for yourself? Why not? 

There was pin drop silence in the room; I was delving into a question that the kids have never thought about. Then, someone saved the day by posing an important question.

P4 girl: Teacher, if you say our expectations for ourselves matter too, then how much is enough? 

P4 boy: My mother told me if by P4, you are only getting 60, you’d definitely fail your P5.

P4 boy: 70!

P4 girl: 80!

The students caucused an arbitrary mark that would suffice.

P4 boy: so how much is enough? 

Me: Your best is enough; because nobody asks for the best, but your best. (Thank you Jennifer for the inspiration) So kids, before you aim for the best, try aiming for YOUR best; I believe all parents want their children to strive for their best, but not all managed to convey it with such clarity, and trust (that the child would do their best).

Then, the kids collectively let out a gasp of enlightenment.

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