Learning to live, living to learn

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Learning to live, living to learn

A YOUNG girl rushed to ask her parents: “Now that UPSR is abolished, why should I study anymore?”

If you were one of the parents, what would your answer be?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Education Ministry had announced the abolishment of Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) for this year.

Some parents welcomed this, especially those who’d been fighting for total abolishment of exams. But there were also others who voiced concern as UPSR had been their goal.

Now that the goalpost had shifted, they didn’t know what to aim for anymore.

Let’s look at this from the objective of learning. Is it just to score in exams or to acquire knowledge?

I’m sure many would choose the latter. Exams are a tool to measure if students are learning. But as the world changes, the tool may not be useful anymore. It has reduced students to acquiring tricks just to do well, for example, pure memorisation without understanding.

The information they stored gets dumped the moment they walk out of the examination hall.

Yet the 21st century opens new opportunities not thought possible before. Even the pandemic has unearthed new opportunities, such as online learning and remote working. Now these have become the new reality. We should expect more of that coming.


We should adopt a new objective when it comes to learning. That is, learning to live and living to learn.

It’s a refreshing attitude to have. There’s no better time than now to adopt this attitude as the world keeps on changing.

We’re entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution and jobs are evolving rapidly. Tell our kids that examinations may be abolished forever and that they’ll be measured by new tools, such as school-based assessments. They must be ready.

Even jobs that exist today may be gone in a few years. Our children can’t be complacent, thinking that they have a future made for them. Teach them that with the right knowledge, they can become a job creator rather than a jobseeker. But they need to constantly upgrade their knowledge.

Let’s welcome the new culture of learning: learn, unlearn and relearn.

Alvin Toffler, an American writer, futurist and businessman known for his works discussing modern technologies, including the digital and the communication revolutions, said: “Illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

But before we expect our children to do so, we must be the role model. Show them that we’re learning and relearning all the time. Set aside our egos and say, “I don’t know.” Pick up books or go online to learn new skills.

Better still, learn from our children. Let them teach us new technologies. Let them share with us new jargons. Never stop learning.

In addition to acquiring new 21st century knowledge, we’re also showing our children that we learn to live, and we live to learn.

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