I have been helping a group of form three students with mathematics on Sundays after church. They are all of the same age, in the same class in a reputable school in Shatin.
One of them does not say much, works quietly by herself, and normally solves the problem with minimal help from me. The second one talks a bit more, has not spent much time with the material, but tries hard and catches on fairly quickly. The third one, however, simply sits and watches the other two. I had to make her take out her pen to try to solve the problems herself. Even then, she often gets stuck after writing down the hints and suggestions that I give her. They are all very sweet and well-behaved. I vowed to do my best to help them change the way they learn, and to appreciate the joy of learning.
However, they are in form 3 already. If they persist their attitudes towards learning (which is quite likely), I can foresee very different pathways for them. One is going to enter and do well in a university of her choice. The second one may scrape into a university but will always struggle. The third one will find it hard to enter a university.
They are in the same class, taught by the same teachers in the same school, and they seem to be good friends with each other. So they have been nurtured in more or less the same way. Why do they develop such vastly different attitudes to learning? Is it because of some innate ability or temperament, or family differences?
A young person’s mind has huge potential. It is such a great waste to leave so many of them untapped. But we are in control of our own destiny. It is never too late to change.