When you were in school, have you ever asked yourselves these questions: “Why do I have to study?”, “Why do I have to get an education?” My mum used to tell me this: “well, if you don’t study hard, how to get a well paid job? How to pay your bills and buy a car or a house?” That was what, twenty years ago? But is that the right values to pass down to your kids now a day? Parents and parents – to- be in this room, how would you tell your kids to study hard for a good education? Are the youngsters today having the right values about their studies and are they studying for the right reasons? I like to share with you today what I think should be the true values of a good education that you should be passing down to your kids.
I like to start by relating my experience with one of my course mate in my night class. My course mate, who is a young lad called Nam, came here from Vietnam to study. He strikes me as a humble and down-to-earth person. Once, we were chatting before the class. "So, what do you plan to do after graduation…?" I asked. In my mind, I was thinking that Vietnam, being a poor and backward country, would not be able to offer him the opportunity of a good career - meaning big money and good life. His reply came in a serious, heavy tone: " Vietnam, until now, is still not a modernised country…a lot of people generally are still poor and uneducated...I would go back after my studies to see what I can do to help…my country needs me…". I was stunned…I don't know what to think. At one point I was thinking that I might have insulted him. But I have also noted that most of my peers would agree that the purpose of a good education is to secure a good job or to attain financial freedom.
What I have learnt from Nam is this: the purpose of having a good education is not about paying bills, buying that house or car but to help those in need of help. In the process, we contribute to the betterment of our society. And this is also the first value that I like to put forward here. As a result, I believe that youngsters should see education as notjust a mean of self-fulfillment, but as a service to society and therefore, to humanity.
While I was attending night classes, I also discovered another value of education. In the course of my studies, I was able to know more about how our world works. By which I also realise how little I know about it and this pushes me to want to know even more. I believe that is what some management guru defined as “self- actualisation” – the natural drive and desire to fulfill one’s potential. And all human being, according to the theory, has this natural need to fulfill their potential. What education can do for the youngster is that they will be able to find the eagles inside them, to spread their wings and follow their dreams. So the second value of education that you can pass down to your kids is that it allows the kids to spread their wings and follow their dreams
I have one last value to impart at this point. I was asked this question: what is true happiness? No, it is not about buying that prized car in the showroom or having the luxury of travelling around the world. Education allows me not only to learn more about this world, but more importantly about myself, about who I am, about my identity. I realised that I was unhappy because I never actually accept or even know my strengths or weaknesses. The result is that I was never actually comfortable with myself. The last value of education that you should teach your kids is that true happiness is all about being comfortable with oneself.