This parenting tip from Jack Ma is so true all S’porean parents should learn from it

Singapore is known to be a competitive society where every individual is told since young to study hard in order to be successful later in life. This has caused a phenomenon in our society where parents are sending toddlers as young as 18 months old to enrichment classes in hopes that they can get a headstart in life and achieve much more in life.

This is also reflected in our culture which emphasises grades as a benchmark of an individual’s performance and success in life. While helpful in getting Singapore ranked as one of the top few countries in the world for competitiveness (we are, after all, a meritocratic society), it has also increased the stresses faced by both children and adults here in Singapore as well.

In addition, such emphasis on grades has led to most of our kids (especially those who studied like no-day-no-night) missing out on a more holistic development. Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce portal Alibaba, is no doubt one of the world’s most famous personalities.

Despite being successful, he remains grounded and his speeches often focus on the fact that his key to success was not due to grades but instead, grit or perseverance. Something which was repeated and emphasised upon by top-notched CEOs and leaders during the Future Leader’s Summit organised by NTUC last year.

For those unfamiliar with him, one famous parenting tip that he has imparted in his book Jack Ma’s Internal Speeches: Trust in Tomorrow may give you some new found respect for him. In his book, Jack Ma wrote down what he told his son: “the most important thing in school is not being the top few performers in the class.

Being in the middle is acceptable too, but you must ensure that your grades are satisfactory.” He also added that only the students in the middle scoring range have time to develop other skills, skills that are necessary for success other than book work.

When we saw this piece of advice from him, we knew we had to share it with you because it is so apt for us, isn’t it? Singapore has started moving from a “grade-focused” society towards a society that is focused on holistic development as can be seen from how MOE wanted to revamp the PSLE system.

As the saying goes, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” This is especially relevant for students as schools are now looking beyond academic grades as a measure of a student’s ability. If you know anyone who is a parent here in Singapore, have they gotten the memo yet?

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This article was first published on

A self-confessed foodie who is always hunting for the best food around Singapore. When not doing that, he is most probably reading up on the latest news about food and sports.