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  • Principal Patrick Low

The Truth about Short-Cuts: Are You ‘Cutting’ Your Child’s Learning?

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Everyone wants fast and effective; who would want to wait? These days our lives seem to run on instant everything—but have we ever wondered at what cost? We’ve all grown up having heard the fable of the tortoise and the rabbit, yet appreciating slow and stable growth is still hard among many, including parents.

I remember tutoring a bright P4 student once for science. She was a little impatient like most 10-year-olds. Matched with good grades, she was never really encouraged to dig deeper when learning. Perhaps it was the school’s emphasis on results, or maybe, even, her parents—she’d grown up sticking to route learning because it worked. When she scored 87% for her P4 Science SA2, we were all happy for her. Yet, there was a nagging fear in me that things would go downhill after, and it came true when her P5 SA1 science grade dropped to 43% that following year.

So—what happened? As her father panicked, and her confidence plummeted, I realised that my worries came true: Route learning cannot sustain. For a P4 student, knowing the ‘what’s is enough. Memorising things as they are work well in exams. We were over-confident that this easy and fast learning technique would carry her through P5 and P6 as well, but it backfired. She had a weak foundation of the subject—and it was beginning to show.

It seems obvious to state that foundation is important. You’ll want a strong foundation for your future house; your child needs strong conceptual foundations to learn their subjects well. But where does foundation come from? My mistake with that student was overlooking the important questions and focusing on the quick and easy ‘what to do?’ and ‘how to do it?’. Asking ‘why’ is the most challenging question of all—because the answers are never simple. Yet, these are the types of higher-level thinking questions that P5 and P6 face, so preparation must start early, and start strong.

Where memorisation fails, understanding fills in the gap. This is what we believe at Learning Smart—that there are no true short-cuts! We all want miracle tutors who can provide us with instant ‘A’s, but have you ever considered what your child is losing in exchange? If you sacrifice a good foundation, you cannot last. If you do not help your child understand his questions and solutions in detail and depth, chances are he would be lost again if you asked the same question differently.

So give your child time; give their tutors time and faith. Foundation-building takes time and effort. Waiting for a year to see results may sound unreasonable—but the long struggle is exactly what your child needs to organise all the new information they are learning to then understand it well. Here at Learning Smart, our tutors are trained to give your child all the patience and support he needs to start with a strong foundation that will last. No more just learning to score—we want your children to learn to grow. If you are interested in knowing more about us, do get in touch!

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