When we think about the things we learn in school, such as subjects like math, many of us think of the many mathematical questions with all the different formulas that aren’t directly applicable to the real world, and that students are studying it for the sake of taking exams. But what not many people take note of, is how these subjects shape our mind and modify our outlook on the different things in life.
Following the example of math— when u walk past a group of students doing trigonometry, there is a high chance you hear them groaning about how useless it is, and how there’s no reason to use trigonometry in the future, especially if they aren’t pursuing something related to math. What people don’t notice is that these math concepts, although not directly applicable to our everyday lives (unless you’re a mathematician of some sort), greatly affects the way your mind works. Research has shown that math teaches people to be able to think analytically and have better reasoning abilities. And where do we start forming these vital concepts to help us through our lives? Kindergarten. It starts from the simple counting of lego bricks when you’re playing with your friends, to the calculation of the surface area of a ball, to the concepts such as calculus. Each and every one of the practices we do at school pushes us to broaden our minds and improve our skill sets. The foundation we built in schools through the syllabus impacts our lives to great extents, in ways that go unnoticed.
Another example is the numerous project works we engage in through our school years. New obstacles and problems are encountered in every project. While some may be smoother than others, there are bound to be bumps along the way. These projects may be done for grades, but they contribute greatly to our soft skills such as communication, teamwork, work ethic, etc. These soft skills are exceptionally crucial in the workforce, or even life outside school. These basic skills we are equipped with through school help us immensely and shapes our character and who we are as a person as well.
My education path
I started off in Temasek Primary School and moved on to taking up the IP program in Temasek JC, which is a straight 6-year program, meaning that I spent my secondary and JC years in the same school and need not take the GCE ‘O’ levels. I would say that my education path has been rather simple and fuss-free and I have yet to meet any large obstacles in terms of not being able to take up what I want, be it subject combinations or the school that I wanted to join. I would credit that to the importance my parents placed on education from a young age. Of course, that does not mean that one should only study and not have fun. Being able to enjoy your childhood is extremely crucial as the older you get, the lesser leisure time you would have. A balance between work and play should be followed throughout, especially if you’re in it for the long haul (which is most of us).
Primary school education is actually extremely vital as they form the foundation of everything you would learn in the next few years of education. To be honest, there isn’t much I remember from my primary school years, but I do remember me being handheld by my mum and being pushed to study because all I wanted to do was to watch TV and play games. Discipline never existed in my primary school years. With the immaturity at that age and not fully understanding the importance of studying, I merely only studied as I was told to do so and did what my parents and teachers asked me to do. Only when I came to secondary school, the
importance of education truly set in. It opened up my eyes to the doors that would open if you got good grades. As sad as it sounds knowing that grades play such a big part in the opportunities you get, it’s the truth. With the limited spots and opportunities that are made available to students, it’s always the case where smarter students get the most opportunities. Seeing this pushed me to work much harder than I did in primary school and my motivation to do well in school soon earned the trust of my parents to allow me to take complete control over my education. Ever since I became a secondary school student, my parents completely let go of the influence they had over my education path. They trusted me to decide for myself the subject combinations I wanted, the CCAs or external programs I wanted to join, and never commented about my grades. This, I believe, is extremely important as it pushed me to become more mature and accountable for my future. It taught me how to be more disciplined and to make smart decisions for myself which was only possible because my parents gave me the power to do so.
Juggling basic school work with being the captain of my CCA, volleyball, as well as being in the Students’ council, life was hectic, to say the very least. Classes would end around 3 pm, then that would be followed by meetings for council or training for volleyball. Once I get home, I would have to rush all my assignments for school the next day as well as revision for upcoming tests and exams. During the hectic periods of the council, I would have discord calls to write proposals up till 3 am in the morning on a weekday. In an IP school, there is no such thing as a break. During the school term, we would have tests after tests after tests and I’m pretty sure there were more weeks with at least one test as compared to weeks with no tests. Studying became a never-ending job. If I were to be paid for the many hours I spent studying, I would probably be able to buy my own house at the age of 17! To think that I was actually sent to the emergency ward for ruining my tailbone due to sitting in the library for too many hours, getting gastric pains for skipping my meals because of all the work I had to do, studying is not an easy task.
Of course, life didn’t get easier once I got to JC. Classes ended at 5 pm and training lasted till 8 pm and by then I’ll be so exhausted to the point that picking up a pen would require so much effort. My JC lifestyle after school and training would be to reach home at 9 pm, shower and bathe, take a nap at 11 pm and wake up at 12 am, and start completing the homework I owe. Considering that the syllabus was getting tougher and tougher, schoolwork became a constant worry to the point that I would feel guilty for sleeping at 3 am because I’m tired and feel the need to get back up and continue studying.
After hearing all these, I’m sure the student life really just sounds like a pain. But to be honest, I really really love school and I love being a student. Although the process seems hard at times, it makes the journey with your friends more special and memorable. The days we spend studying and giggling in the library together, fooling around by rolling on the grass field during our study breaks, our trips to the mini-mart to buy way too many snacks— all these little enjoyments in life turned to be extra special and makes the process of studying so much more tolerable and can even become something we look forward to. And I know for sure once I step out fully into the working life, these memories would become extra precious and meaningful.
Looking back, I really wished I got more engaged in activities and spend my time doing things I love outside of school. The exams I stressed over and canceled plans to study for soon became insignificant but the days I had fun going out with my friends to stay engraved in my memory and made me truly happy. Of course, the big exams are important as they determine the path of your future. Consistent studying is also extremely crucial, but remember to take a break once in a while and there is no need to take everything so seriously. Once you step out of the bubble and look back, the minor exams and tests are no longer that big of a deal as they hardly make a difference in your future.
Overall, the school foundation is extremely important. Studying consistently helps to make school life a lot easier and less hectic. Despite this, it is extremely important to make time to enjoy yourself and make good memories with the people around you. This allows us to enjoy the process and not burn out too quickly. After all, we are here for the long haul so it’s important to pace ourselves 🙂