My friend EE read a letter sent in by a parent to the newspaper and asked for my point of view. The letter "My son deserves a second chance" is about a teenager who got kicked out of junior college because of his poor results.
According to his father Mr Vincent Tan, the son is a smart chap who had simply lost the motivation to study. Naturally, after the letter was published, people rushed in to comment. While some were sympathetic, there were others who are downright cruel.
I, for one, do not like to comment unless I know the scenario very well. Obviously what we have seen is a letter from a parent pleading for a second chance. We do not know what problems the son had encountered or even caused in school. Logically, he would have been counselled by the teachers and is made aware of the severity of the situation before the expulsion.
Yet as a parent of two teenage boys, I can't help but sympathise with Mr Tan and his son. While most people are quick to criticise the boy's immaturity and attitude, I'm trying to recall what first year of junior college was like for me. At 17, I was like a lost sheep.
While my friends and I were by no means stupid, we couldn't quite figure out what the lecturers were teaching. We struggled all year but thankfully the schools weren't so merciless then. Only the troublemakers got expelled from school. The rest of us made it through JC and many went on to the university.
One thing I know for sure is teenage years can be very tumultous for some. Things that seem trivia may bother them alot until they have reached a level of maturity to deal with different situations. Having supportive parents and teachers around will make the transition easier.
Having said that, every child develops at his own pace. That explains why there are leaders and late-bloomers. We need all kinds to fill the society.
Like it or not, the Singapore education system is very result driven. The top schools will settle for nothing but the best, they have no room for slackers. It's a cold-hard reality. I already knew that the day my kids entered kindergarten. I also know my children's capability and personality, so I have learned to manage my expectations. I also tend to look on the bright side.
Over time, Mr Tan will come to terms with the school's decision. Though it may be the end of JC life, it's not the end of the world. Like what many people have commented, there are many other options. In fact, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Who knows?