Which is the best school? | Bangkok Post: learning


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Which is the best school?

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I am constantly confronted by parents who ask the question, "Which is the best school in Bangkok?" My answer has always been, "There is no such thing as the best school, not anywhere in the world." Instead, I urge parents to ask a more reflective question, "Is my child getting the best learning experiences at home and at school?"

Unrealistic expectation

For parents, schools are supposed to guarantee children's success, and the best school is believed to accomplish this more effectively than others. Paradoxically, schools do not magically produce successful individuals. In fact, a lot of students from many so-called "best schools" go straight for extra tutorials after school hours to relearn what they were taught at school.

It takes a lot more than just schooling to produce successful people. Parents who do not understand this demand that the school turns their children into people like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates and Ben Carson, without spending one-on-one time with them.

Home before school

Research proves otherwise. Students who excel in education are those whose parents (not just teachers) hold the right attitude towards intelligence, self-discipline, dedication and the need for healthy curiosity. They believe that intelligence can be nurtured by providing a stimulating environment and exposing the child to high-quality learning experiences. They take an active role in shaping their children's learning experiences years before their child enters the first classroom.

Parents of children who excel correctly understand that a child's success depends more on the parents and the learning environment at home than on teachers and the curriculum at school, and that any significant progress should only be expected if and when parents systematically and consistently reinforce behavioural patterns that would lead their children to form constructive learning and study habits.

Case studies

Such were the experiences of Edith Stern and Ruth Lawrence. Both are known to have been very successful individuals at a very young age. Neither possessed the gene set of a genius. And yet, because of dedicated parental care and tutoring while they were young, Edith's and Ruth's intelligence and mental abilities were enhanced significantly.

Edith is the daughter of a New Yorker, Aaron Stern, who decided to give his daughter the most stimulating environment he could think of. From the time that Edith was born, he played classical music to her, spoke only in adult language (no baby talk) and taught her lots of new words every day by using flash cards.

As a result of all the exposure and stimulation, she spoke in complete sentences by the age of one. At the age of five, she had finished reading all the volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica. At six, she was reading six books a day and The New York Times. At the age of 12, she was accepted into college, and, at 15, she was teaching higher mathematics at Michigan State University.

Another case in point is Ruth Lawrence from England. After her parents put her through an enriched learning environment of music, educational toys and exposure, she managed to pass her Cambridge Ordinary Level examinations at the age of nine when the average age for sitting for the examination was, and still is, 16. At the age of 10, Ruth passed her Cambridge Advanced Level examinations and was accepted into Oxford University at the age of 12.

Asking the right question

A careful analysis of both cases reveals that the journey towards success and academic excellence begins at home and at a very young age. Instead of waiting for a school to make their children successful, parents should realise that they play a key role in making this a reality. As such, the first question that parents should be asking themselves is, "Am I ready to take responsibility for my child's success, at home, before expecting the same of teachers at school?"

Dr Edward Roy Krishnan is the director of strategic planning at Wells International School (http://www.wells-school.com) He also lectures at the Graduate School of Psychology, Assumption University. He can be contacted at edwardmsia@gmail.com  To access additional articles by him, visit http://www.affectiveteaching.com


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