From One Parent to Another: Clarity in the Chaos

“Chaos”; I’m a father of a 1 year old boy and like all responsible parents, my wife and I started the conversation about how we should educate our child. Looking at all the options, schools and systems I thought one word, “Chaos”. Where and how do we begin to start thinking of how our

children should be educated? Advertisements these days are full of schools with extravagant facilities and pretty pictures. But do big football fields and Olympic-size swimming pools educate children? The veneer looks good but isn’t there more? How about fancy hardware like

tablets and laptops? No. That can’t be it either.

How  about teachers and where they come from? Superficially that held promise but does that mean that the ability to educate my son is restricted to individuals from certain countries? Surely not! I’ve observed that the best teachers and mentors hail from all walks of life; from humble “Kampung” beginnings to fancy foreign private schools. Interestingly, their most valuable lessons did not rely on their knowledge of the subject(s) taught but from the wisdom and skills they imparted; Skills like teamwork or organization; Wisdom which will allow my son to integrate knowledge, experience and a deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life including its ups and downs. Not to rush to conclusions, to calmly approach any situation knowing that everything plays out over time, to see the bigger picture.

What would I pay for my son to grow into an educated man, brimming with skills and wisdom?

Now,  educational systems; How different are all these systems, really? They typically vary by  what is taught, whether we teach one aspect of history or leave out another. Do I want my son to learn the Malaysian, British or Australian history? Surely that cannot be the answer. How do schools vary? Often from aligning themselves along geographical affiliations, the differences are typically the size of the school, teacher nationalities, student nationalities, extra-curricular activities and of course, swimming pool sizes.Isn’t there more?

Almost every educational system pays lip service to skills and value education but when we look at how they demonstrate value in their assessments, exams and certificates, there is little mention.

Enter the International Baccalaureate (IB); a revolutionary system that has changed the way we look at education forever. Finally, a programme that does not affiliate itself with ever-changing national agendas but rather one that focuses on the “how” of learning. Skills and values are paid equal importance in their assessment as knowledge acquisition. An IB student is assessed (examined) on not just their history facts but how to analyze the situational context, work in a team and their ability to consider the ethical perspectives. What would you pay for that kind of


This article is the first of a 6-part series on education. More exciting articles to come!


Dr Vincent Chian is currently the IB Diploma Director of Fairview International School. A former medical doctor working in psychiatry he now spends his time championing emotional and effective development in education.

Fairview International School’s Ipoh Campus is scheduled to commence classes on August 4, 2014. For more information, call 05 313 6888 or email to:

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