Material suitability: Age 13 and above

This article shares about how to write an impactful and thoughtful reflective essay regarding lessons learnt in the school curriculum and outside of the school curriculum. The essay is periodically interjected with Teacher’s Comments (TC) to allow a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the content.

Teacher’s notes

Why is the examiner asking this question?

There is a need to understand the differences between lessons learnt in the school curriculum and lessons learnt outside of the school curriculum.

Curriculum: the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college

  1. Introduction:
    • Briefly talk about the pros and cons of lessons learned in the school curriculum vs lessons learned outside of the school curriculum
    • Focus on the pros (i.e. important lessons) you learned outside of the school curriculum and give a summary of the pros and the consequences that you are going to elaborate in the body paragraphs
  2. Body paragraph 1:
    • P: What is the lesson learnt?
    • E: Under what conditions/situation did you learn the lesson? Why is this significant?  What are the consequences? Explain how it can help you in your life?
  3. Body paragraph 2:
    • P: What is the lesson learnt?
    • E: Under what conditions/situation did you learn the lesson? Why is this significant?  What are the consequences? Explain how it can help you in your life?
  4. Body paragraph 3:
    • P: What is the lesson learnt?
    • E: Under what conditions/situation did you learn the lesson? Why is this significant?  What are the consequences? Explain how it can help you in your life?
  5. Conclusion:
    • Summarise all the lessons learnt outside of the school curriculum. Explain how these lessons help to shape you into a better person. Show the links between lessons learned in the school curriculum and outside of the school curriculum so that students are able to appreciate the things they do in school AND outside of school. At the same time, show the inadequacies of the current school lessons so that the school system can be improved to enhance the complementarities between lessons learnt in school and outside of school.

Fully-guided Model Essay

Introduction

In Singapore, there tends to be fixed and regimented ideas concerning what should be included in the national curriculum. It is only recently that these tried and tested educational ideas have been challenged where the Singapore government looks to revamping the whole educational system. Given the pace of technological, scientific and social advancement, it makes sense that Singapore’s school curriculum should change to meet the evolving needs of its people. This is the approach adopted by educational authorities in Hong Kong, for example, who have been teaching the principles of morality to students for more than a decade. Morality is typically a lesson taught outside of the classroom, with parents and guardians setting the example for children to follow in their formative years. This is just one of many topics that can be taught through life experience and the example of others, and which forms the basis of our outlook and philosophy as we approach adulthood.

Body paragraph 1: Learning how to consider and care for others

Learning how to consider and care for others is one of the most important life lessons to be learnt, as it would enable me to enjoy satisfying and mutually beneficial friendships as I grow older. Without this, I may be perceived as selfish by my peers and ultimately fail to develop healthy relationships, whether romantic or platonic. This is a lesson that is usually learned within individual social circles, as those who fail to consider the needs of their friends will ultimately become ostracised from the group. One of my good friends is probably the best example. She is so ignorant and rude that everyone treats her as an outcast. Whenever she was mean, I figured it was a personal choice; it was her conscious decision to stop caring about others’ feelings and opinions. [TC: Good observation and example]

Body paragraph 2: Learning that life is unpredictable 

Even with the best of intentions, our personal and professional relationships can easily turn sour. [TC: There is no link between this topic sentence and the example/explanation provided. This topic sentence is interpreted as such: even if you meant well for the other parties e.g. buying them gifts, being nice, the other parties might not appreciate it. Instead, they might think you have harmful/evil intentions. Consider this amended topic sentence instead: The vagaries of life can cause as much gloom as mirth to anyone.] I learnt this lesson when my great grandmother passed away. That day, I was still in school and once I got home, my parents told me about this abrupt mishap. I deeply regretted not spending more quality time with my great grandmother. Indeed, I intended to spend more time with my late grandma but failed to do so because of the heavy study commitments I had in school. I did not just learn about life being unpredictable and the difficult priorities in life that I have to make consistently, but I also learnt to cherish my loved ones dearly. The same principle can also be applied to life as a whole, as it is an unpredictable entity that is capable of delighting and disappointing in equal measure. This is a lesson that can be exceptionally hard to learn. Nonetheless, it is a vital lesson as it empowers me with the ability to manage my expectations and priorities so that I can resolve the complex problems in life. [TC: Linking a personal experience to the big picture. Great insight!]

Body paragraph 3: Learning the importance of future planning

It is clear that the impulsiveness and ignorance of youth can often deliver important life lessons for the future. One of these life lessons is the eventual realisation of the importance of forward planning which entails a devotion to intellectual growth and the cultivation of financial prudence. While such considerations are unlikely to play on most minds at my tender age, it is fortunate that I have been well-guided to make formative plans for securing my long-term future. My mother has always dehorted me from splurging money on wants, such as a cute plush toy or lavish clothes, instead of needs, such as nutritional food and education. My parents deserve full credit for their far-sighted efforts as without them, I would not have developed the financial discipline to save regularly and make the most out of their hefty investment in my education. 

Conclusion

These lessons are indubitably invaluable to my personal growth and development journey. They have shaped me into who I am today: an sensible learner who is also empathetic to others’ needs. Last but not least, it is worthy to note that a rigorous school curriculum that equips us with mere head knowledge is insufficient. The best decisions made in life should also be guided by the life lessons we learn beyond the school curriculum. [TC: Good closing statement as it shows the link between lessons learned in the school curriculum and outside of the school curriculum so that students are able to appreciate the things they do in school AND outside of school.]

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