The Acceleration of Educational Competition

As the parent of a happy and fun two-year old, I became disheartened when reading this report on how the pressure is increasing for toddlers – not even children! – to compete to get into the “best schools.” The gist is that in Hong Kong, the best nurseries (catering to toddlers 2 years and over) have such limited capacity that prospective babies are systemically interviewed on accomplishing baby-level tasks.

They’re being graded and judged without understanding either concept.

On one hand, I can kinda, maybe, relate to that drive to get the best possible education for one’s progeny. Asian cultures especially emphasize the importance of getting ahead via the books; for generations, being academically successful has been the safest path to a mid- to upper-class lifestyle. Asia’s dense population only intensifies the already fierce competition. Moreover, the general consensus is that early education plays a pivotal role in a person’s development curve.

And I fully admit that I may be suffering a generational gap between my understanding of how the world works and the extent of the competition that children and teenagers and college students face in today’s education system. I realize that the “back in my day” stories of yore may not apply, the same way that my parents’ stories about their schooling and teenage work lives no longer apply.

But of course, we are talking about babies who are literally learning how to walk and pronounce their first words. Kids are already suffering from an increased homework load robbing them of their childhoods, and we’re now looking to plunder their toddlerhoods as well. As much as I want my children to have strong foundations and succeed, I can’t see myself not letting them have fun and play without being dispassionately judged for admissions.

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