Sunday, May 08, 2005

[] What Makes A Top Student

On the other day I was IM-ing with another recommer and his words enlightened my perspective on the definition of top students, and what top students should do. He is a top student for sure, but his humility of remaining anonymous and low-key in recom has impressed me even more.

Today, Malaysia has become such a society that whenever we come and think of the word "top student", our minds conjure up an image of the guy / girl with the longest string of 1A in their exam slips. Go ask the aunty at the groceries shop, our parents, our peers, our teachers, our principals, or even ourselves, most probably we would all hear the same answer.

The problem with this perception is, they are only the top-scorers, not necessarily the top students; and they are not the only role model of an excellent student. In the more-A1-means-better-student environment we have here, the only thing we are going to cultivate is one-dimensional and parochial outlook, kiasuim, "scheme-expert-ism", and the list goes on. Ask top-scorers to write an essay on an issue, and you will see. Many of the top scorers would give you a piece of writing with columnist standard, if it's covered in the tuition or in the school; any other issues, you will see them lamenting about the difficulty and their writing turn out superficial with immature points showing their inadequate exposure to the real world.

String of A1's is not the only thing a student can achieve, and is certainly not the only prerequisite of a generation which will become the pillar of Malaysia in 20 years time.

And the issue we have today, is that with those excessive attention on the quantity of A1 and total neglection on the other good qualities in students, our education system is going no where but towards becoming an A1-generating machine.

Edit: Do notice that I qualified all my points with the word "many", not "all". Of course there are top-scorers who are indeed top students in its real sense as well, but we still see a lot of students who know to study brilliantly but achieve excellence in barely any other qualities.