Singapore’s Educational Reform.

Better late than never.

Rebalancing the PSLE.

Finally, seeing some change. Why didn’t Mr. Tharman suggest this while he was Minister for Education?

I wonder.

But it doesn’t matter, the crux of the matter is that things are changing, albeit 10 years late. However, I’m not sure if rebalancing the PSLE will change much. Perhaps it will lessen the emphasis on grades, but will it trigger some other negative side-effect, like with the 2004 CCA ranking system? Will it warp Singapore’s ideals as a meritocracy?

I suppose if they made it more generalized and only have A*, A, etc, then there would be hundreds of people with the same grade trying to crowd into top schools. How would they sort it out then? CCAs? Leadership values? Service? Character? Through interviews?

Or pure balloting?

Quantification of CCAs has already proven to be detrimental. Leadership? Can we classify students into leaders and non-leaders as such a young age? And at any rate, why would you want to have a few hundred ‘leaders’ crowded into one school? After all, a leader is nothing with his/ her followers. Service? Volunteerism, in my view, should be from the heart. Not for ulterior motives like school criterion. Ever heard of mandatory volunteering? Never in my life have I encountered a more ironical oxymoron.

Interviews. Do we have to put so much pressure on 11 year olds? Relieving their academic pressure will just put more pressure on them to outperform in other areas.

Balloting? That would be sheer luck. Luck. And although I believe that luck really affects the way our lives turn out more that we think, I don’t think that’s the way we want our children to treat their futures.

No, I think we’ve all been disillusioned. We think that to change the educational system, we have to change the way we grade.

Maybe, but that would just be pushing on the problem to a later date.

What we really need is a paradigm shift in the mindsets of parents. There’s no use abolishing banding, no use generalizing the grading system, if parents are still so kancheong. (Oh yay, I used a Singlish term, I think.) The truth is, it is an inherent part of Singaporean nature to be incredibly competitive and there’s just no stopping the reality that parents still demand that of their children. They want them to get into top schools, be good at everything, etc, etc.

I believe every child has a potential, but not everyone can be a genius. Not everyone can do everything. Not everyone can excel at everything.

Sorry, moms and dads.

I know we live in a culture where hard work translates into good returns. That’s why Asians do so well. Not because we’re smarter or more intelligent than other races, it’s because we’re generally (note generally) more hardworking. As a race of rice farmers where harder work translates into higher profits, it’s in our blood. (Well, not really. ‘In our tradition‘ is more apt). That’s also why Bangladeshis do so well when they have the opportunity to receive a higher education. (Read The Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell)

However, we do have to accept the fact that there are some things we just cannot make our kids do. We wonder how our friends’ children do so well and juggle so many activities at the same time, and why our own children can’t. (Unnervingly I’m beginning to sound like the parent now.)

Wake up.

Value your children for what they are.

Not everyone can be a genius, but that isn’t a bad thing. Isn’t happiness all you want for your children? They don’t have to be incredibly smart or incredibly talented to be happy in life or make a difference to the world. Not at all.

At any rate, Raffles Girls, Hwa Chong, Nanyang, all these top schools- their reputations are established on their students and their achievements. Understand that these students were always bright to begin with- the school didn’t cultivate them.

Common logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. 

So really, it’s all just a name. A name. That’s it. You’re putting your child through all this- risking their emotional development and wellbeing- just for the appearance of prestige?

I’m sure we all have something better to aspire to.

Respect your children just a tad bit more. They have something better in life to aspire to.

Stop complaining about the system. After brutally bashing the Singaporean system and frantically racking my brain for ideas on how to change education (if I were in their place), I realized that I was expecting too much, from the wrong people. I thought the fault lay in the government and their curriculum. Yes, a lot of improvement could be done, but they try. The fundamental problem lies with us, with society. We have not (as a whole) changed our mindset. Our outlook remains static. No one refuses to budge.

So education doesn’t lie with the government, it lies with us. Each and everyone of us, both as an individual and as one community. We all have a duty to ourselves and our children to seek out the best in life, but we have yet to alter our perceptions on what really is ‘best’. We all need to take charge of our own futures. As a student, you have to be self-motivated, self-driven, and take charge of your own education, and constantly find out more about what you can pursue, what you want to do with your time. As parents, you need to go educate yourself about what’s best for your children now, and not go by the standards set by age-old traditions and beliefs. As teachers, you need to cultivate students who love to learn, want to learn, and learn to live- and not for their grade or exams.

Then, maybe, we could consider educational reform.

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