Beating The Brain Drain: Penang

With holidays around the corner, Penang schools have found innovative ways to counter the 'brain drain', which is where students start to lose focus. We find out how!

When approaching the subject of exams, children and parents have very different views. Students regard exams as more of a hurdle to clear than as life-defining moments; parents, with their considerable world experience, understand the importance of these standard-setting requirements on future endeavours and try to push their children to excel – sometimes at great cost.

One more monster remains to defeat before the longed-for holidays: the exams. Unfortunately, the closer they get, the more students tend to slack off, hence creating a so-called ‘brain drain’. However, according to teachers from Tenby, Prince of Wales, Uplands, St. Christopher’s and Fairview all of Penang, the answer to this recurring problem boils down to five student-oriented approaches.

How Was School?
Most of the teachers pointed out that each child learns in their own way and so some classroom lessons designed at mass-imparting knowledge to 30 individuals could potentially not resonate as well with some students as with others.

Take the time before and during the year to find out what your child has an interest in. By understanding learning obstacles and challenges, you as a parent are able to provide a more ‘catered’ approach to a problem subject than that being taught in the classroom, thus making it more palatable to your child.

Read, Read, Read
We all know reading up on a subject helps your understanding immensely, but in the age of instantaneous digital entertainment, textbooks almost invariably end up playing second fiddle to Xboxes and DVDs. However, preemptive action here can solve a lot of problems as we all know how much a ‘night before’ revision session ‘helps’.

By reading up on past modules, pinpointing areas that they need to work on and making plenty of revision notes, students at Tenby and Prince of Wales keep the lessons fresh and relevant in their heads throughout the year, and have a better chance of understanding it come the exam period.

Technology Is Not Evil
While you may think ‘it’s for their own good’ by pulling the plug on the television and swooping into the room like a hawk every time you hear music playing, in fact it can be exactly the opposite. If students see studying as a chore they will grow to resent it and you for making them do it. Music can actually bring about positive associations with subject matter and while the television admittedly isn’t always an educational tool, breaks are important too.

In fact, both Fairview and St. Christopher’s actively encourage that their students get online during the weeks leading up to their exams – not to Facebook or Youtube, of course, but educational websites recommended by both schools where the students can engage with their studies in a fun, and most importantly, visual manner.

Give Them Space
As much as we want to be involved in every aspect of our child’s school life, that overbearing quality can actually stifle your child’s ability to come up with solutions for themselves. Pencil in ‘free revision’ sessions in your home revision timetable so that your child can identify things they need to work on themselves and take responsibility for their academic strengths and weaknesses.

This approach has been used in classes in Uplands, where it has proven most effective with students actively asking what they want to know in open class sessions and teachers have been able to provide them with the help that they need on specific matters.

Make Revision Fun
If only, right? Wry jokes aside, this is a serious note to end on. With the entire obsession over grades, revision and ‘are they studying enough?’, your child can begin to associate studying with fear, anxiety and pressure, which is less than ideal to encourage a positive learning environment.

Try to alleviate that pressure by making the exams all about your child instead of the grades. The more your child feels that they are the star of their own show, the more control they will want to take and the more help they will ask for from you.


Tags: Features, Guide to Life, TIS, POWIIS
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