My response to: ‘How can 97 marks be not good enough?’ This is why all kids should learn sports

(Photo by Straits Times)

I was initially surprised to see that scoring 97 marks in a Chinese test did not make the cut for the Higher Chinese classes in Primary 2 in St. Hilda’s Primary School. But after reading the full article, I personally feel that it was a fair decision made.

To summarize the Straits Times article, some students’ parents complained that even though their children scored 97 marks for their Primary 1 Chinese test, they failed to make it to the Higher Chinese class in Primary 2 as they weren’t under the top 25% of students who scored above 97 points.

However, I would like to mention that it is not that the students did not do well; they did really well! Just that other students did better than them, which was why they did not qualify for the Higher Chinese class in Primary 2. Honestly, it’s not the students fault, they did their best, but it just wasn’t good enough. So I feel that instead of complaining to the school on how unfair the system is, parents should properly educate their kids on how to not be discouraged by this setback and keep pressing on. After all, they’re only Primary 1!! There’s so much more to their life than pondering over a Primary 1 Chinese test.

You know, kids always strive to do their parents proud, so if parents show any signs of disappointment to their kid’s performances, they can definitely sense it and blame themselves for it. Coming from a kid myself, I can vouch for that.

So parents, instead of complaining to the school about how unfair your child has been treated, educate your child on the importance of setbacks in life, and how they can use it to their advantage to make them stronger individuals!

To the kids that did not make it to the Higher Chinese class, always remember that it’s all about perspective – You can either ponder all your life about how you failed to make it to the Primary 2 Higher Chinese class, or you can move on from it, and strive to have better Chinese results in Primary 2. Honestly, you’ll lead a happier life if you choose to move on and strive for better results!

Also, if you can have that kind of mindset, you’ll officially be out of the rat race education system that many Singaporean kids are stuck in now and lead a much happier and stress free life.

The highest that I ever got in a Chinese test was in Primary 2, where I got 98. (WOW I WOULD HAVE MADE IT TO THE HIGHER CHINESE CLASS! But does it matter?) I still remember bragging about it to my mum that I no longer needed to study for my Chinese test as I was already smart enough, and she actually allowed me to stop studying, pretty chill mum I should say! However, my scores dropped to an average of 60-70 points for the next few tests, as I always end up coloring the fruits in the test papers instead of doing the paper. That still did not make me change my mind on studying again though…

But did my parents scold me when I got 60-70 points in my test?


But why not?

If I don’t get good results, I won’t be able to get into a good Secondary school, and without a good secondary school, I wouldn’t be able to go to a good JC, University, etc… It’s an endless cycle.

But why didn’t my parents scold me? Was it because they didn’t care about me?


It’s because they understood that there was more to life than just being paper smart. What’s the point of grinding all day in my books if it was something that I did not enjoy? For me, they knew that my passion was in swimming, so they allowed me to dedicate my time in an area which I was passionate about.

And this leads me to my main point on how sports can properly educate your kids on overcoming setbacks and becoming a stronger individual in the long run.

I’ll be using swimming as a sporting example to illustrate my points for obvious reasons.

In swimming, the best lessons are learnt the hard way. Think about it, have you ever remembered how you executed your best races? I highly doubt so. The best races happen naturally without much thought, it’s as though your body was on autopilot mode. You probably already forgotten how that racing experience felt and have already moved on from it.

On the other hand, when you have a bad race, you tend to be more critical on yourself, and try to figure out what went wrong in that race. You’ll start to find ways to better yourself in the next race, and keep replaying the race in your head to figure out what exactly went wrong and correct that aspect in the next race. And that is when the most efficient learning occurs.

Why do we learn best when we perform at our worst? That’s because we’re hurt and upset!! We’re not contented with the outcome, so we’ll be much more motivated to strive for better results so that in time, we’ll get the desired outcome that we want.

I’m sure that with this setback, the kids who didn’t make it to the Higher Chinese class will be more motivated to study harder in Primary 2.

(Photo by Wong Foo Lam)

Like what one of my swimming coaches Sonya Porter always tells me – you learn best when you are feeling at your worst; that is when everything does not flow naturally, and there is so much to pay attention to detail about because everything does not seem to be falling in place. Therefore, if we can learn to execute the correct things during our worse days, we will be even better during our best days.

So don’t be afraid of bad days, and embrace the worst feelings, because that is when you become a better swimmer.

As for the kids that did not make it to the Higher Chinese class, don’t be disheartened! You merely just had a setback, so get back up on your feet, and start studying hard again, you have so much potential in you, so don’t give up just because of a Primary 1 Chinese test.

“It is better to suffer some pain now, than a great deal of more pain later.” – Tom Campbell 

As for parents, I personally feel that you should allow your kids to experience this setback at a young age instead of fighting for them to get pushed to the Higher Chinese class. Allowing them to experience this setback at a young age gives them a taste of reality, that things will not always go the way they want to in life. Because that’s what life is all about, ain’t it? We will tend to appreciate things less when they come easy, that’s just human nature.

On the other hand, if you successfully transferred your kids to the Higher Chinese class, they’re going to grow up thinking that it’s ok to not strive to be a better person, because “my parents will help me with what I want anyway.” I’ve seen many self entitled kids nowadays so lets not contribute to it.

(Photo by Wong Foo Lam)

In swimming, say you did your very best, and even broke the World Record for an event, but you came in 4th place, which is out of the medal tally, because the top 3 swimmers did better and broke a World Record as well. Is it possible to complain to the judges and say HEYYY THIS IS UNFAIR!!! I DID REALLY WELL TOO!!! I SHOULD BE GIVEN A MEDAL AS WELL!!! 


And that’s the harsh reality in sport. You can be swimming the best race of your life, but if others are better, you will get kicked out of the podium, and there’s nothing you can do about it to change the outcome. Which is the same for the kids which scored 97 points. Yes granted that they scored well, and nobody can take that away from them. But if others scored better, then it is a fair decision to put them on the normal Chinese class in Primary 2. So move on, and work harder in the Primary 2 Chinese class.

(Photo by Wong Foo Lam)

Swimming has humbled me as an individual, and it has also taught me an important life lesson, which I’m sure that many athletes can relate to – The reality of life is that things will not always go our way. But when it doesn’t, we have every right to be sad about it. But after being sad, we’ll have to learn to move on, get back up on our feet, and strive for better results in the future. After all, it isn’t the end of the world, so we can always try harder the next time around. If you keep with that mindset, you’ll look back at your life with no regrets, because deep down, you’ll know that you’ve live life to your fullest potential. 🙂


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Disclaimer: This post was written solely based on my own opinion. It is written with the purpose of inspiring readers to get over their setbacks and hopefully become stronger individuals. 


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