Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Everyone's  tense over the upcoming External Validation exercise the college is going through this week. Preparation for an important assessment is understandable, and everybody's thinking, "what if we screw this up? what if I screw up?" Indeed, what will happen? Ideally speaking, whatever the report says it simply means that certain college operations can be done better if we were to make certain changes in our current practices and procedures; or that under our current standards of assessment we are doing fine, so can we see if we can reach a higher standard by the next assessment? The whole exercise is no more than a learning experience but people, knowing people, are likely to take things more personally than objectively. Hence the preoccupation about not screwing up. Hence the added stress though it really is unnecessary.

Fear of recrimination, reprisal and blame, if anything, is a lousy motivator. After meeting parents even a couple of days after Parents' Day, it's clear that fear is at the heart of parent-child relationships and in many cases the cause of an unhealthy rift between the two. Parents obviously want the best for their kids, so by the same token, why can't we trust that our kids want the best for themselves? Unfortunately, by focusing on criticizing the negatives rather than encouraging the positives, both kids and their parents get the impression that they are striving for opposite goals rather than the same one, hence the perception that attempting to communicate with one another is a futile, even counterproductive exercise. And from there it's a downward spiral to heck.

Kiasuism is a trait Singaporeans are proud to identify with, but it's about time we started doing things because we see the worth of the activity rather than because we fear the consequences of not doing them (or screwing them up). I bet we could go a lot further, with less than half the stress.

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