death by paper cut

{August 5, 2012}   re-defining the all-rounder

it is espoused in school, that the recipient of the all-rounder award goes to the student who is excellent in everything; all academic subjects, extra/co-curricular activities, and takes up conspicuous leadership roles. yes, there will always be this one or two market-spoilers in each cohort that raises the bar higher and higher each year, making the rest of us feel less inspired and more inadequate.

i’ve been pondering another related and consequential matter – the elusive and virtually unattainable notion of work-life balance in workaholic singapore. we’ve been imbued since young that success comes at sacrifices, to the extent where personal interests and down time has to be put on hold until a certain level of success is attained. and only at which time you are allowed to think of being happy.

maybe us adults had it coming because we feed back into the vicious cycle by telling our young that their studies are their sole and allowable preoccupation since this period of literally pre-occupation will determine their future occupation which will then (fallaciously-known-to-us-but-we-will-not-tell-the-kids) land them a bright future (i.e. a well-paying and stable job) and they will be set for life.

there are two inherent problems here that the adults perpetuate.

firstly, we know with experience that because of many factors beyond our control, no one is set for life, and we are therefore doing our youths a disservice by setting them up for failure.

secondly, kids strive to do their best for very extrinsic reasons who will later on in life work for similarly extrinsic reasons. this generation will ask by default, “what’s in it for me? how will this advance or impede my goals? are you useful or a hindrance to me? will this help me to attain perfection and be an all-rounder?” Because they are taught implicitly and explicitly that everything comes at an opportunity cost and to therefore count the cost. in the early stages, the question raised with the same impetus comes fast and furious in the form of, “is this counted for the exams?”

what happened to the love of learning? of curiosity? of a genuine zest for life? i guess such an outlook that makes for an authentic all-rounder has been assaulted and replaced by the award-winning certificate-certified all-rounder.

therefore, the definition of the all-rounder needs serious consideration. from youth, an all-rounder needs be given and encouraged to have the time and space to pursue interests whether or not it may lead to fame and fortune so that the all-rounder is not a groomed candidate for an award, but someone who already has in place a sense of work-life balance and will continue to treasure this ethos. the all-rounder will then be a self-assured, reflective person who is able to form opinions, have convictions and maybe even advocacy. the all-rounder, from young, is not taught that happiness, gratefulness and a sense of balance are only reserved for the successful and lucky. i am not advocating being mediocre or lazy, but that the pursuit of achievement needs to be balanced with also finding joy in the here and now because we know all too well, that for many, happiness never comes.

if we raise our kids to believe that happiness can only be a result of prosperity and progress (for our nation), we are then raising a broken and cynical generation that will know how to make a living, but not know how to have a life. and since the change agent will probably not come from a national directive – teachers, parents, adults, it lies with you to buck the trend and stake your claim to happiness.


This is so #pledgeSG

Reblogged this on Just a lil' Cynspiration and commented:
Steel Wool is the voice of reason. Because there are too many self-entitled “certified all-rounder” types who crash & burn then ask: “So I’m at the end of the rainbow, where’s my pot of gold?” #pledgeSG

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