(From off the record.)
I read Rasman Sharif's article in The Star yesterday, Straight As no child's play. He wrote about a pretty hot topic nowadays, how school children are under so much pressure to do well in exams. It reminded me of Niki Cheong's blog post a little while back following the results of the UPSR, where he wrote a letter to his twelve-year-old self. I figured, hey, since the older generation's writing about it, I might as well have my say here too; I am, after all, one of the many kids under said pressure.
First off, I have to say that I've never felt sorry for any of us because I simply do not know any other way. Exam stress goes hand-in-hand with school; in my school, we have two exams and two tests a year, so four times a year, you see kids going everywhere with books seemingly permanently attached to them. There're the late nights of cramming, the caffeine overdoses, the almost palpable tension right before we enter the classroom for a paper -- those are all very normal. For me. For us.
I've never even seen it as a possibility to not care about results. I don't get it. We learn, of course, we all learn; but if we've really learnt and understood everything (which we should have by now!), it should show in our marks and grades. There's nothing like looking at your results slip and feeling satisfaction because you know you tried your best and couldn't possibly have done any better. And then, of course, there's that healthy "I got higher [marks] than you!" competition, which I see as a good thing as long as it doesn't go too far. (It's a very 'primary school' thing, though. Shh.)
We were a bunch of cool kids.
But then again, my viewpoint is that of a somewhat nerdy A-class kid. There are, of course, kids who actually, truly do not care about their grades, because they know academics is not their thing. Some of them already know what they want to do with their lives, have got a special talent that pretty much determines their line of work in the future, and I admire them. It's so important to know what you like and have an idea of what you want to do with your life, because it gives you something to work towards and focus on.
Back to the topic. To be honest, I am a pretty darn competitive person, so even if our society didn't have this 'must get straight As' mentality, I would probably be aiming for that anyway. I think what we students have to do is to know where we all stand and set realistic expectations for ourselves. Forget what everyone else thinks. If you've been getting B-minuses for Physics and work your way up to a B-plus, you be happy; you be happy, because it's your work, you improved, and you did it. Without tips, I hope.
That is all.