I am constantly confronted with 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, anywhere in the world.” Instead, I direct parents to asking a more reflective question, “Is my child getting the best learning experiences at home and school?”
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 “the best schools” go straight for extra tutorials after school hours to re-learn 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 toward intelligence, learning and how the brain works. They believe that intelligence can be nurtured by providing stimulating environment and exposing the child to high quality learning experiences. They take an active role in shaping their children’s learning experiences way before they go to school.
They correctly understand that a child’s success depends more on themselves (parents) than on teachers at school; and that any significant progress should only be expected if and when they systematically and consistently reinforce behavioral patterns that would lead their children to forming constructive habits of mind.
Such were the experiences of Edith and Ruth Lawrence. Both are classified as extremely successful individuals at a very young age. Both did not necessarily possess the gene set of a genius. And yet, because of what their parent(s) did when they were young, their 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 Edith was born, he played classical music to her, spoke only in adult language (no baby talk) and taught her lots of new words everyday 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, was teaching higher mathematics at the Michigan State University.
Another case in point is Ruth Lawrence from England. After his parents put him through an enriched learning environment of music, educational toys and exposure, he managed to pass his 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 ten, Ruth passed his Cambridge Advanced Level examinations and was accepted into Oxford University by the age of 12.
Asking the right question
A careful analysis of both cases reveals that the journey toward success and academic excellence begins at home, at a very young age. Instead of waiting for a school to make their children successful, parents should realize 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 from teachers at school?”