Thursday, May 26, 2016

Genius In The Old Age

I've always thought of myself as average.

Specifically when it comes to academic matters. Not unlike many other Asian homes, praise was used sparingly in mine, usually coming off as frankly disquieting since it was that rare. Even my Tiger Mom - though shockingly liberal in many other ways - didn't see much reason to rain accolades and applause for every little bud of victory. Though I could certainly sketch better than just an amateurish stick figure, I knew that I would probably never paint the Sistine Chapel.

Which was fine by me since I only saw it as more reason to strive harder. Kiasu lil me. Definitely wouldn't want to be one of those spoiled brats who assume they're the best in everything.

So back in school there were always classmates way better in certain subjects, always the few who scored just the few marks ahead of me. Easy enough to think of myself as average back then no matter how hard I struggled in school.

How wrong I was though. As students in any institution with some modicum of school spirit, we're generally held to believe that our alma maters are the best but it never occurred to me back then that I was in the best class in one of the better schools in the district, perhaps even in the state. There was indeed a higher number of people behind academically than there were ahead of me.

Not so average after all!

It was only after graduation that I realized what a fallacy it was to think that I was anywhere close to average.

And no, I am not tooting my own horn.

Certainly brought home quite painfully to me when one of my colleagues failed repeatedly to spell the word 'ankle' properly. Really. A-N-K-L-E. Perhaps one of the more basic words we learnt way back in sing-along kindergarten along with hand and foot. Then someone who later insisted that the lunar eclipse was caused by the sun coming between the earth and the moon - which I then announced terrifyingly was clearly the coming of the apocalypse.

Not only those memorable lessons of course but dozens of other elementary examples in many other subjects that show just how terribly our education system has fared in our country. And how much we have all failed the students here.

And then just last week when one of Charming Calvin's high school students found himself apparently stumped by an awfully basic math question. 150 divided by 25. Not only did he not know what was meant by that relatively benign question, he had no idea how to even begin executing long division.

Really. And I used to think I'm lousy at mathematics.

Compared to them, I'm quite the freaking genius.

1 comment:

Janvier said...

That must have rankled!