Conformity In School

What Are We Teaching Our Children To Be?


5/6/20235 min read

woman standing in front of children
woman standing in front of children

Just another day in the life of a parent, helping their kid with homework.

In this case, it was my eldest daughter Lele who needed some assistance with a Math worksheet.

No sweat! hopefully... That's what parents are for, right?

Anyway, as we were going through the worksheet, I noticed something strange. There were two of them stapled together - 9.1 and 9.2.

Lele had gone above and beyond the call of duty and completed them both.

Overachiever alert!

At first, I was like "Wow, great job Lele!"

But then she started freaking out. Like, really freaking out. She was horrified that she had done more work than was required. I mean, who does that?

Turns out, her teacher had scolded her in front of the whole class last time she completed some work ahead of time. And ordered her to erase it.

Can you imagine? It’s like asking Usain Bolt to rerun at a slower speed because he is running too fast in the lane.

So, Lele was on the verge of tears and begging me to erase all the extra work she had done.

I was baffled. What kind of teacher punishes a student for being proactive and doing more than expected?

It's not like she was slacking off during class or anything.

No One Mess With My Girl

My wife heard about this and immediately sprang into action.

She's a total badass like that.

However, Instead of getting all confrontational, she decided to take a more empathetic approach.

She felt that too many hardworking people are underappreciated for their efforts.It makes them feel what’s the point doing so much..

She started with telling how Lele enjoyed her classes and today in her enthusiasm, she overshot and completed 9.2. She explained that she was concerned about the message sent to the kids by erasing her hard work.

And here's the kicker - she didn't ask the teacher to let Lele off the hook or anything.

Instead, she offered solutions for what we could do if Lele ever got bored in class again.

Niki prepared some extra worksheets for Lele to do in class, so that she would not be disruptive if her classmates were doing the worksheets.

That's what you call a win-win situation, folks.

The reply from the teacher was so-so.

She tried to explain a bit of the reasoning behind her actions but it wasn’t very convincing.

Anyway, she allowed Lele to do her own revision while her classmates attempted the worksheets.

You know what they say.

Consequence Of Poor Delivery

You know what they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

And in this case, it seems like the teacher had good intentions.

Maybe she wanted the child to fully grasp the concept before moving on, or maybe she was afraid of the child getting bored in class. But instead of explaining this to the child, she just scolded and punished her for doing extra work.

The delivery sucks like hell.

It's like when you try to give your friend advice but end up sounding like a judgmental know-it-all. You mean well, but your approach could use some work.

And what did the child learn from this whole ordeal?

trees and pathway
trees and pathway

Don't stand out.

Don't do more than you're asked to.

Don't try if you're able to.

And absolutely don't question people in authority.

It's like the teacher was trying to create a little army of conformists.

Good intentions without proper communication can lead to some serious trouble.

Regardless of her intention, her action is already trying to instill conformism.

Double Edges Of Conformity

On one hand, some degree of conformity is necessary in order for schools to function effectively.

Students are expected to follow certain rules and guidelines, and to adhere to academic and behavioral standards set by the school administration and faculty.

Being in the educational sector before, I do understand the helpfulness of conformity. It just makes things hell a lot easier to manage.

In Singapore, the average number of students in a class of public school is 36.

To put things into perspective, US public schools have an average of 24, Australia has 23 and India is 30.

Well, it's true that having too many outliers can make a classroom feel like a circus, but that doesn't mean we should discourage students from going above and beyond.

Excessive pressure to conform can also have negative consequences, such as limiting creativity, suppressing individuality, and promoting groupthink.

Students who feel forced to conform may be less likely to express their own opinions, take risks, or challenge the status quo.

It is already showing in Lele. She dared not voice her opinions or answer in class, in fear of getting put down by her teachers or laughed at by her friends.

In her classes, she gets points for following the rules, such as handling homework on time and participating in class.

All of which I think is a great way to promote work ethic.

Then again, it may cause them to do it for extrinsic value.

On the other hand, they get points deducted for following the rules. Deduction can happen before she drank her water during class as she was thirsty.

Yeah, the absurdity.

Purpose Of School

Was it to promote critical thinking or produce good employees?

Schools also play a role in socializing students to the values, norms, and expectations of the dominant culture and society, which can help prepare them for their future roles as workers, consumers, and citizens.

However, school systems are often criticized that overemphasis on job training and workforce development can come at the expense of other important goals of education, such as promoting critical thinking, creativity, and civic engagement.

I am not saying that the school system is all bad. It has its credits and plenty of resources that one can use to further themselves.

Just don’t assume that because everyone goes to school, school is the best choice for all sorts of education.

I think values should be imparted by us and not by the school educators.

They should only be responsible academically.

Not to mention that I had personally known individuals whom I wondered what the heck they were doing in the school systems. They are scholars and even working HODs.

But as humans, they are utterly rotten in values.

Womanizers, lechers, narcissists, overgrown babies, gamblers and many more. These are the people that I don’t even want to be within 1km from my children, let alone be responsible for teaching them values.

Sadly, our interview process is not sophisticated enough to root them out.


In the end, teachers are just humans and a type of rice feeds thousands of people. Being a teacher doesn’t automatically make them better people.

Therefore as parents, we have to be on constant lookout for wrong teaching and correct them immediately.

Like Madeye Moody said “Constant Vigilance!”

See ya. With Love.