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Loved this article so much by Mathia Lee that I have to reproduce it for all to see. Because it is an issue that really touches my heart. The education system in Singapore, where we groom our future citizens (& PRs, & foreign scholarship holders who study for free) is seriously wrong. I swear I will homeschool my children next time if things don’t change and if I can afford it. See the article below and think whether you agree with it.
Mr Alfie Othman threw 2 questions to the audience ( http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/12/interesthink-3-gets-people-talking/ ):
How do we teach students to be creative? How do we teach students to be confident?
A few years back, I was teaching Sunday School in church. During the singing session, where the entire group of 3 – 7 yr olds gathered to have fun singing together, it was really easy to tell apart the 6 year olds from the 7 year olds.
Children 6 and below had a spark in their eyes, a joy in their movement. When they reached 7, this spark was gone, their movements muted.
What happened to them, that made them change so much in just one year? They entered primary school – that’s what happened.
Children who are in kindergarten or pre-school tend to respond freely to the Song Leader. They dance freely on their own accord, they sing loudly, they might run around a little, disturb their friends a little. When the Song Leader shouts a question out to the audience, they raise their hands, jumping up and down, shouting out their answers and opinions.
Meanwhile, the primary one group of students would be standing there, singing because they are supposed to, but they no longer jump up and shout out with enthusiastic spontaneity anymore.
They are the favorites of most Song Leaders, to be fair. They are the first group to respond when the Song Leader is trying to quiet the crowd, to get the crowd lined up into their respective age groups, or simply to respond to any instructions give. They sing when asked, stand when asked, answer questions only when called on and asked directly. Their answers are short, sharp and to the point, unlike the 3 year olds who tend to launch into their entire life history to explain their answer.
The Killing of Confidence and Creativity
What has happened here? Confidence has been killed, creativity has been killed.
In my view, children are born with a natural confidence and creativity. I’ll invite anyone looking for evidence to spend a day with a toddler. Ask the child a question, and she’s likely to give you all and any thing that pops into her mind without worrying if that’s correct or silly – that’s confidence. Leave a child alone at your work desk, and you’ll find him taking apart every gadget you have, or putting things together in the most unimaginable ways – that’s creativity.
So asking the question, How do we teach Confidence and Creativity ? , might be the wrong question to ask.
The question we need to ask is, How did we kill Confidence and Creativity?
And it’s so important to start with the right question, before we can get solutions that work.
So what killed confidence?
Here’s my take. When each test and assignment is graded, when students are separated into classes and schools according to their grades, it reinforces the message that “You’re not good enough” in EVERYBODY – yes, even that child who was second best in the whole country. Think about this, if your spouse told you, You are the second best in my life, or your parent told you, You are the second best child I love, would you feel happy that you are better than ten thousand others, or will you be devastated? How many test results does a child have to get back, before his confidence is shattered? Looking at the Primary One kids in my Sunday School, I’ll say, ‘Not many’.
How then do we assess students and motivate them to study? What other way is there?
I think the children have already given us the answers. Look at their games – their Xbox, their PSP. What motivates them to spend hours and hours on the games, ignoring their meals, their sleep, and everything else in life? The games that can be a much bigger challenge than Maths or Chinese or English combined.
I do find an addictive thrill trying a task again and again, till I’m good enough to advance to the next level, where I’ll try again and again to get to the next. I also know that if you put me at a gaming center, hired a tuition teacher to stand behind all of us, distribute big crosses whenever we make a mistake, constantly yell that’s not the right way to do something, distributed grades to all of us after each try, and gave us only 2 tries at most, I will never ever touch a game ever again.
I’m not an expert at game psychology, I can’t pinpoint an theories behind gaming motivation. But I suspect that we should get gamers and game designers into our education overhaul committees instead of educators, who are very experienced at killing confidence.
How about Creativity? What killed Creativity?
Coming from NUS Science, and being part of the emerging Life Sciences research industry, I’ve the privilege of saying that more than 50% of people are interact with are foreigners. The second most common trait (the first being apathy) that differentiates locals and foreigners is that locals are always looking for the “correct answer”. Have a discussion with locals about the education system, and half will be asking ‘ what is the right way to teach?’ ‘who knows the right way?’ ‘what are that person’s qualifications?’ – there is always this need to look at an authority to provide the answers, and there is always this need to look for a “qualified” person. The other half will of course tell you ‘I don’t know. No use one lah, cannot do anything about it anyway’. Foreigners on the other hand, will tell you their personal opinion, and the discussion will be about all the different opinions brought up, what their strengths and merits are. And all these locals and foreigners are your university graduates and PhD graduates.
I think an education system where there are answer sheets and model answers, where an answer is either right or wrong, and the teacher unilaterally determines the right and wrong, builds a culture where there is a “right” way for everything that is determined by a qualified authority. That is the antithesis of creativity.
You may ask, ‘Creative answers are possible for art and literature, but what about Mathematics? 2+2 will always be 4, there has to be a right answer!’
My proposal is this.
Stop setting questions that ask “ 2+2 = ?”
Instead ask “List 5 equations that give the answer 4”
Possible equations = 1 x 4 = 4 , 8 – 4 = 4 , 8 / 2 = 4 , 2+2 = 4, 20 – 16 = 4 ………. The answers are infinite….
Our grave need for an education overhaul
The need for an education overhaul that stops segregating students according to artificial measures of merit and that stops people from saying ‘No other way’ , goes far beyond education itself.
Our educational stratification and ways of selecting leaders from the elite has resulted in policy makers that see poverty as a number, a grade on their career exam sheet, and not the suffering and hopelessness that is the reality of 300,000 (Ravi Philemon, http://singaporesocialactivist.blogspot.com ), because they don’t have a single friend who cannot pass even primary school. The stratification has created a poverty trap as well, filled with the people who couldn’t pass primary school , and has not a single friend from the university to make them feel like that could be a possibility for them too.
Our education system that breeds a culture where there is a right answer to everything, and that right answer is determined by qualified authorities opens up a huge potential for abuse, where qualified authorities recommend policies out of their own self-interest, and no one questions them because of the strength of their qualifications.
What YOU , my reader, can do about this
My dear readers, if you have read up to this point, I want to go beyond thanking you. I want to ask you to take one more step, to share YOUR ideas. There are several ways to. The convenient way is to leave a comment, or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also give your feedback and suggestions directly to the government committee here http://app.reach.gov.sg/reach/Events/PRIMARYSCHOOLEDUCATIONREVIEW/tabid/149/Default.aspx .
But of course , you know the most important thing you must do : Stop killing the confidence and creativity of any child you might ever meet.
At least when he gets a job, there is a minimum wage law to protect him.
In Singapore, part-time work salary has stagnated at $6 an hour for the last 10-15 years? I don’t even want to talk about MacDonalds. Exploitation of workers. But hey, as our MM says, if we are not competitive, our wifes and daughters will have to go to other countries and be maids k! I am so looking foward to my prospects upon graduation.
Take a step back. Do not neglect the weakest members of our society. Together we build the nation. Together we achieve happiness, progress and prosperity for our nation. I always believe that a group/team/society is only as strong as its weakest. So I hope the Singapore government don’t leave the weakest people behind. Don’t hide them under the carpet. Don’t leave them out of the statistics and use creative accounting to make them disappear.
What’s the point of trying to achieve increasing GDP per capita when you see so much suffering? It is only a hollow success. Do onto others what you want others to do onto you.
God bless. I hope I can find my calling.
You think Rory Delap is good with his long throws? Wait till you see Leah from Brazil. She shows you how she does it in Sambaland. Currently starring in Fifa Women’s U-20 World Cup.
Oh and regarding the white tiger attack in the zoo, a video is available. Warning: watching the video means you are as mentally psychotic as me. Find it yourself in DailyMotions if you are so interested.
There is no hope for humanity when people actually want to post such videos.
In my previous post, I was blogging about how some people from you-know-where will start doing character assasination. Today in the Straits Times, it happened.
Mr Chua Sheng Yang has decided to give the 1st target Tan Kin Lian a shot below the belt.
Is Mr Tan organising the rallies at Speakers’ Corner for purely altruistic reasons, or is he organising them to help his colleagues in his position as a writer of The Online Citizen, a website which is well known to have an anti-government stance?
It was not too long ago that Mr Tan was the chief executive officer of NTUC Income and his own agents adopted the same practices which he now deems unscrupulous.
Why did Mr Tan not tell his agents to practise more ethics then, when he was CEO?
Now to suggest that Tan Kin Lian having ulterior motives to helping investors and being ‘unethical’ while he is CEO of NTUC Income is … %$#@!#$.
We don’t know whether Tan Kin Lian has an ulterior motive to organising the meetings at Hong Lim, writing petitions and giving updates on his widely visited blog, but one thing is for sure. He is trying to help those investors, meeting them and trying his best to help the investors to get some form of compensation from the banks and some action from the MAS. So far, we have not seen any other MP, PAP or otherwise, go the same length in helping the investors. And no, I am not sure whether Mr Chua Sheng Yang himself has done anything constructive too other than trying to assasinate TKL.
Dear Mr Chua,
Is helping the people = anti government? Is trying to help the investors seek an avenue to recover their lost moneys instead of taking the government stance of individually seeking the banks for a ‘talk’ = anti government?
Why are you attacking people instead of writing about how where investors can seek avenue to get back their money? Tan Kin Lian wants to help Singaporeans too. Are you helping anyway other than trying to destroy TKL for any ulterior motives you may have?
I am apalled that the Shitty Straits Times have decided to publish such a letter. Hopefully Mr Tan Kin Lian will persevere and not be hum ji from this incident. Many more assasination coming up. Watch out.
Waking up early in the morning to have my intelligence insulted. PM Lee this time talks about why Singapore cannot have a 2 party system like in America. Read the article here in TODAY. The mud-slinging has started, maybe elections might be round the corner, especially since the elections department is starting to work .
In short, he says that change has to take place, but no need opposition, just change within PAP. LHL talks about other democracies only advocate change. “change, change, change” but change to what? Citing examples from America, Austrailia and New Zealand, he is insulting the democracy system in those countries and also the intelligence of their citizenry. He also pointed out that the change in government in Taiwan to Ma Ying Jeou has not resulted in a improvement of the economy. Duh, which country can prosper right now under the current global economic climate.
So LHL is implying that we are not politically mature enough to have 2 parties, and that it is a dumb system as seen in other countries? Bollocks. I have enough of him. One vote for him last time because I was naive and apathetic. Another vote for him this time will be if I am retarded. Just hope that I get to vote this time.
Quoted from kakowi,
Well, the PAP has given its value proposition.
The PAP seems to concentrate on only single ideas:
(1) they are dominant, clean and good – so vote PAP
(2) theirs is a division 1 team – so vote PAP
(3) look at Taiwan (why does PAP and Opposition seems to think that Singapore will become like Taiwan the moment there are opposition in power?) – so vote PAP.
Can the Opposition give us their value proposition?
(1) they make the PAP cleaner and better – so vote Opposition
(2) they are also a division 1 team – the PAP is division 1 in intellect, they are division 1 in caring for the people and living as the people – so vote Opposition
(3) Taiwan? it is already hard enough being an opposition in singapore!
look at Singapore – another term of PAP in Singapore is equal to another term of gst increases, medical cost increases, food price increases, everything increase including, maybe, investment losses;
a good and clean PAP giving higher and higher increments that in reality benefit all the ministers who are all PAP members
- so vote Opposition to be YOUR 2nd opinion
Whatever is your value, do tell the voters – also. Because it takes time for the ideas to sink in. 8 days are far too short.
With the passing of JBJ and the demise of SDP, I do worry about the quality of candidates the opposition party can summon this time round. They need to start showing their face more (such as showing more care and concern for the troubled Minibond and Pinnacle Notes investors) but then, once they start showing their hand, they will be character assasinated by you-know-who. Its a dilemma and the opposition parties has to thread the line carefully. Whatever it is, only a political tsunami the scale of Malaysia can wake up the men in white. Then they will stop eating hallucinating pills and think that there is nothing wrong with the country.
The opposition must do more work. Even if they are not of Division 1 calibre but an ordinary Ah Beng, Muthu or Ali, as long as they show care for the people and willing to countercheck the government, they have my vote!
On a sidenote, maybe I should start joining them in their activites instead of all talk no action too. Start by helping to be a counting agent or something.
Join SDP? cannot afford getting sued and hiring a lawyer.
Join WP? Too quiet, but they are competing in my GRC though.
Join SDA? Only Chiam is there, no other pulling factor.
Join NSP? Might be a dark horse, if Steve Chia, Sebastien Teo and Goh Meng Seng works harder. Wonder how active the party is too.
Okok, need to get back to Sg asap 1st, now the weather getting colder, not fun. Difficult to walk home at night and no time to go jogging since the sky is completely dark by 5 pm.
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