Our Chat-Integrity, Mistakes and Corrections


Dear Ian,

We had a bit of a spelling test a couple of days back and you wanted to check your own work on your own. Unbeknownst to me, you have decided to take it upon yourself to check your own work but I took your work over and check, and as your father, you protested, I ignored.

And not only did I go through your current spelling work, I went through your previous week’s spelling work too. And that too you protested. I can see that it was also ‘self marked’ and you marked everything as correct. That is where I knew it was an opportunity for a parenting lesson.

While I dig into your past week’s work, I found more spelling mistakes from those you marked with a ‘tick’. Some words are obviously wrong. ‘intolarable‘, ‘whimppered‘, ‘inauidible‘, which you marked as correct. There was also problems with your dictation, some sentences are missing entirely.

…trust yourself by not trusting yourself

You started to cry, and I wondered why? There was a huge egotistical defense mechanism coming up from you. You couldn’t really tell me why you cried and actually do not want me to check on your past week’s work. Your explanation was that it is already over, so we don’t have to go back to it to check.

That is a mindset I needed to address.

I brought to your attention why there is a need to let others check your work, and be brave to own up to your mistakes, present or past. I told you that we cannot hide from our mistakes, especially those that we put pen to paper. We have to have the courage to go back into the past to fix them, correct them, so that they will not come back to haunt us in the future. And we need to fix those mistakes, because mistakes not fixed in the past will eventually become the ‘truth’ we take as real in the future. One example was ‘harvsack’, you wrote that once in your dictation, and you didn’t pick it up as a mistake, it turned up on your second dictation as, guess what? ‘harvsack’. A wrong is a wrong, and too many wrongs will cause one to assumed it to be right, and I’m sure you are not out to change the word ‘haversack’ to ‘harvsack’ right? If you are on that quest, then good luck to you.


More importantly, through our conversation, you said that you knew that some of the word is wrong and you have ‘mentally corrected them’. And you put a ‘tick’ over it.

That is where I pointed out to you the value of integrity. You need to be honest to yourself, a tick means right, a cross means wrong, and if you put a tick over a wrong, but mentally corrected the wrong, who is to know that you’ve actually corrected the wrong? And 2 years later, when we look back at the same page, will we still remember that you actually ‘mentally corrected it’? On top of that you put ’15/15′ when it should be ’12/15′ irrespective the ‘mental corrections’, a wrong means a wrong.

Your school have 4 ‘houses’ R.I.C.E- Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Excellence

It gave me a good opportunity to tell you about ‘integrity’. Which means you need to be brutally honest with yourself and when you found yourself with a ‘wrong’, you must do what is right and make a wrong, wrong. Only then the corrections can start and have a meaning.

Smart people seek help

Like I said it, always look for people to help you with your work, with your marking. it is an irony, trust yourself by not trusting yourself. Always knows that we humans are prone to errors. I also pointed out to you in so many of the ‘Air Crash Investigations‘ documentary we watch on TV, so many of the Pilots and their First Officers, failed to check on one another and resulted in deadly, tragic events. The problem is, even after one crash, after all the investigations and corrective, improvements made, decades later, similar crashes still happen. And even with 2 very smart, competent people, such errors still happen, so for us, we need to check and double check, enlist the help of others so that we can be doubly sure.

Always look to work with people smarter than you, so that you can learn. Never mind that some of these smart people might belittle you, mock you. Then  just walk away, with a lesson learned that some smart people you’ve approached are actually not that smart. Keep looking to challenge yourself by working with smart people, getting smart people to check your work.

Not looking back

And if you have given your all, your 110%, you would not need to worry about people checking back on you. You do not need to look over your shoulders. You can let people check your work from Primary 1 to now, and you’d be satisfied that you’ve done your best. Then you will no fear of the past, no fear of regrets. You are only 11, you’ll go 20, 30, 40 and more, doing many, many things that will come back and bite you if you are not giving your all.

I hope you can learn from this as this is a very important lesson in getting the right attitude in life, and I’m glad I was at home to talk to you about this.


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