So a massive exercise has been taken, by the people that may not know much about education, by people that may not know much about what life and living is all about, by people who knows not but pretending or thinking they know a lot.
Here are some takeaways from the things said and printed in the media and the contradictions or fictions that have been generated. The most important point raised, and out of a sense of wanting to provide a child with an all round education, to be a knows all of everything but knowing nothing, is this, to develop a whole child, whatever that means. And the present wisdom, a future of uncertainties and it is better to develop a child that can cope with future changes. Let me quote Indranee, a lawyer, not an educationist, not a parent bringing up children. “We now put a lot more emphasis on developing the whole child – not just their academic achievements….The ability to learn, unlearn and relearn will be the key.” And this motherhood statement, ‘Book knowledge alone is not enough, and the change caused by technology and other disruptive factors means that learning, has to continue well into adult life.’
I have several questions. How many children require all round development? How many children needs to be educated in the arts and sciences to become a knows all? How useful is a child with a well rounded education that he can use all these knowledge in his job? How many children are capable, with the intellect, to acquire a full rounded education other than being superficial and ended up becoming a good for nothing? In the real world, when everyone needs to get a job to feed himself, other than the super rich, is a general all round education going to be more useful than a specific education with specific skills, but very narrow in nature?
Why are Singaporeans, especially the PMETs losing out in the job market, unemployable, because they did not have specific skills needed in the job market? Why are foreigners, who did not benefit from our super all round education, coming from very basic education system, are beating our super talented Singaporeans, with super grades, in the job market? Why are ministers saying that there is no need for university education, all one needs is a skill in demand?
Are there contradictions between idealism and reality, between aspirations and the hard truth in life? While talking about educating children to become more flexible and adaptable, would these compromise the children in acquiring specific skills in demand? Funny, if every child is going to become a superman that can do everything, a wholly developed person, are they not going to become one stereo typed, wholly developed person? Assuming of course every child is a genius by nature and could benefit from such a complex and varied education, and without stress.
I am not an educationist or expert in education. These are some of my thoughts as a layman, someone who has no deep knowledge about education and I do not pretend to know the answers to how a child should be educated to the best of his ability, his gifted or not gifted talent. A child is not the same as every other child, each with his own special talents and non talents. Should it not be to develop a child according to the best of his natural endowment and according to what society and the new world expects from him? Not what the parents want them to be?
It will be a different matter if every child is born a genius and a sports talent and is gifted to do and excel in everything.
From comments in Parliament and the direction they are pointing it appears that they are being mislead by a small group of noisy and vociferous parents dictating how the education should be like for their not too bright or even dull children to be admitted to the best schools, play and be happy, without any pressure, no need exams, learn more study less, and end up with super grades in the end. Such things can only happen in third world countries and degree mills.
The children come in all shapes and sizes and not everyone is a perfect circle. One way to push them through perfect circles is to enlarge the circles. But they would come out in their original shapes and sizes. The only method to turn odd shapes into perfect circles, or cast iron into steel is through the crucible of fire.
A buffet of schools
What Singapore needs is a tough minister to offer to the parents a buffet of schools, from happy schools to tough competitive schools, to specialized schools that would turn out children according to the demand of the schools and their specialization. Play schools would turn out playboys and playgirls. Rich parents can afford these playboys and playgirls as they grow up to party their whole lives without worries, without stress, without having to work for a day.
Those who want their children to be engineers, scientists, doctors, and the hard disciplines have no choice but to work for it. There is no other way to master these tough disciplines except through degree mills and pariah school systems in third world countries. Is that what we want?
Stop fooling around with our education system and the lives of our young. No pain no gain. Oops, maybe we have magicians in Parliament that could really produce an Einstein who is also a great artist, a great football player without having to work for it. Just pull him out from the hat and viola, you have your superman!