How the Filipino parent’s emphasis on academic success may encourage mediocrity

One of the things that characterises the Filipino parenting style is a focus on academic success. For Filipino parents, education is crucial and subsequently, the brightest children are placed on a pedestal while those with bad grades get strong reprimands. This, I think, can lead to a strong fear of failure. Rather than taking on the more difficult challenges, children who wish to please their parents quickly learn to opt for the those that have the highest chance of success. After all, good grades led to praise whereas failure only means a taste of tsinelas.

Filipino schools just add to the problem. Pressure from both parents and administration make teachers very reluctant to fail students. An industry professional who was offered a teaching job recently commented, “One of the reasons I refused [the job] is that if I fail 80% of the class [who were underachievers], I would be kicked out. Incredible. Raise the standards, and you get the boot. Keep them low, and you stay on forever.”

Ironically, the Filipino parent’s over-emphasis on success may restrain excellence and encourage mediocrity. It could help to explain many of the challenges our country faces. Maybe rather than being afraid of failure, we should accept it as being one of the key ingredients for innovation. Poor students should fail but we should also reward those who bounce back after hitting the dirt.

According to Randy Nelson, dean of Pixar University, a professional-development program for the well-known animation studio, the core skill of an innovator is error recovery, not failure avoidance. Perhaps if we change our attitude to failure, we may help raise a generation of innovators for the Philippines.

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“Pixar University’s Randy Nelson explains what schools must do to prepare students for jobs in new media.”

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2 responses to “How the Filipino parent’s emphasis on academic success may encourage mediocrity

  1. A very informative article on the reality of the Filipino Parenting style. Filipino parents and educators should realize that each child has his/her own potential to discover. Most parents want their children to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, or engineers and give pressure to their children to be one.If the child fails, his/her confidence deteriorates. And why should parents not encourage their children to be one of these? After all they are highly paid and highly regarded professions in the Philippines. Parents should see broader horizons.
    A child can become a very good chef, hairdresser, beauty theraphist, painter, musician, comedian, artist, waiter, writer, caregiverr, nanny, tailor etc. A child can be encourage to do what he/she loves to do and he/she can be very good at it. Doing something that you love as a profession or vocation is one of the best things that can happen to you.

    My experience in the UK taught me that you may be a professional accountant, teacher, lawyer or engineer in your own country does not mean doing the same profession when you go abroad. Many foreigners in the UK who had good education work as cleaners, domestic helpers, bartenders, waiters, kitchen assistants and other blue collar jobs.

    WE should encourage children to do what they love to do and not over emphasize on academic success.

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