Values And Grades: Which Comes First?



Rightly or wrongly, for pragmatic reasons, Singapore has an obsession with academic grades. With national exams at primary 6 and even an examination testing if a child is ‘gifted’ or not at primary three, it is clear that grades have high weightage in Singapore. However, we should first teach the right values to our children before pushing them to get good grades.


The importance of being earnest

Good grades don’t define us. Good character and values do. Getting good grades may show that one is hardworking and maybe book smart, but it is faceless and doesn’t really reflect who that person is.

More often, when a child gets good grades all the time they may fall into the elitist trap and adopt a dismissive attitude (sometimes unconsciously) towards their classmates who may be more hardworking than them but don’t match up in tests or exams.

The wrong side of competitive

A student shares his views after a recent end of year examination.

“Some of my schoolmates are so competitive, whenever they see another person’s notes lying around they may take it and throw it away. They think that this will deny another person of doing well and therefore benefitting them. I don’t like my classmates who are like that, it makes me dread school and because of this mindset that some of these people have.”


Changing the paradigm

Teaching the right values first will make schools a more conducive place to learn. Everyone, from students, parents, to our future generation, will benefit from this improved eco-system. If we instil the mindset of helping one another, the students with better grades can help the weaker ones. This can actually be adopted in the form of a buddy mentoring system. A stronger student can be paired with a weaker one and he can help to teach the weaker student. This can make learning more fun as well as students can learn from their friends and perhaps even spark a love for teaching.