So not too long ago, we asked him to come back to clean our water tank and make some modifications to our piping. He was friendlier the second time around. We talked a bit more.
I've observed that the boys, upon entering Form 1 generally are able to cope well with school. But something changes along the way to Form 5. By the time they get to Form 4 many of them would have been sidetracked and most top places will be occupied by girls. Boys occupy something like 30-40% of the top ten places in my school, which is quite reflective of the national undergraduate ratio.
I remember from my own experience that boys would catch up and overtake us in Upper Secondary, very often buoyed by their better performance in the Sciences such as Physic, Chemistry and Additional Maths.
These days, fewer boys do better. Ah Koon's story is very much like what I observed. He coped well when he was in Form 1, even making it to the top 10 list for one exam. Then he fell into 'bad' company and became lazy. There was no turning back after that... he headed the wrong direction until he hit his late teens. His parents didn't realize and were ignorant. They let him do what he wanted. By Form 2, he was languishing. By Form 3 he was way into his own world of truancy. He skipped his PMR and continued his 'partying' life. It's their attitude that lets them down.
This is an excerpt from today's Malaysian Insider...
"While previous surveys named poor English as the main cause of unemployment, bad attitude has now topped the list," Straits Time quoted chief operating officer Suresh Thiru as saying.
Then he grew up! He suddenly realized the importance of education. He wanted to go back to study but he was way too far left behind. So, since there wasn't much choice, he went to work as a plumber... not that it's a bad job. Today, he regrets his immature decisions. And he is trying to avoid the same pitfalls for his children. He says his wife makes sure his children don't stray. She scolds and disciplines them; and he thinks she does a good job at it.
Ah Koon's story is a common one. Caught up by the sophistication of modern living, many parents think their children know better. The thing is, what was is still the same. Children need watchful eyes over them. Children need adults to vet their actions. Children need sensible voices to infuse some common sense into them. And occasionally children need discipline to get them back onto their path.
Boys take a longer time to mature. And girls are doing better than before because nurture no longer overlooks them. And I guess hormones too play a big role. Life is too good for kids today. There's very little need to struggle for survival. The lack of need to shoulder a responsibility for the boys perhaps too give them very little purpose in their marginal years.
I am sure there are many Ah Mei stories out there too... but somehow they tend to get buried by married life as most will remain home and don't come out and work.
The impact of dropping out from school is lifelong, but at that age these marginal people are rather myopic. They cost themselves the opportunity of a better life but they don't seem to care. But lately, I am seeing more of my female students exhibiting the gung-ho attitude of the boys too.