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Friday, April 7, 2017

Will You Make the World? Or Are You Made For It?

See HERE for the full article.

See HERE for the full article.

Daniel Yap wrote in the article HERE. "I can feel the massive ship turning ever so slightly."

I oso say!

I read the above 2 articles in the past 2 days that gave me much to be excited about. Since 2010, I wondered why our educational system had evolved into the huge mess that it pretty much still is, at the moment, with its over emphasis on academic excellence to the detriment of other developmental areas.

In the end, I concluded that the MOE had forgotten about first principles and allowed itself to be seduced by the fads in education emanating from the USA... standardised testing... PISA and what not. For 7 years I wondered why the MOE was not preparing our children for life. 

Since Ong Ye Kung and Ng Chee Meng took over, it does appear that we have come to our senses.

What is the use of topping the PISA scores and having a world class testing methodology if our children are poorly equipped for life at work? So finally, the MOE, helmed by 2 men with WISDOM if not actual educator experience, is working from first principles.

What is this first principle? 

To know what the education system needs, we need to work backwards from the future ready children we want to have, 20 years from today. Certainly, the future is hard to predict and nobody expects the MOE to be entirely clairvoyant. However, certain things are perennial in a useful and productive adult.

- Emotional intelligence
- Social networks
- Literacy and numeracy
- Knowing how to learn and unlearn
- Respect for high standards

Throughout The Son and The Daughter's education, their schools focused largely on literacy and numeracy. It was up to me to teach them emotional intelligence (the old people will simply say 做人道理  for emotional intelligence). It was up to me to nudge the development of their social networks along. It was up to me to teach them how to learn independently, and how to identify stuff to unlearn. It was up to me to insist on high quality work with the mantra - If you're not going to do it properly, please don't even do it at all.

Every week, I do battle with parents and students who want to do a lot HW but give me junk to mark. This attitude is endemic and it takes all of my strength and determination to stand firm and say, "Your junk will end up in my bin. It will not be marked. It will not even be returned to you. You will not learn anything new from me until you learn this properly."

At least learn something small, but don't learn nothing at all.

In truth... right up until today, with Ong Ye Kung and Ng Chee Meng at the helm of the MOE, the strategic direction of our education was still very much what Goh Keng Swee had set down in the 1960s when he had to MAKE people fit the staffing needs of the global MNCs which invested in Singapore. 

Singaporeans learnt to be compliant do-ers. Our best students were compliant do-ers. Never break the rules. Work hard. Work very hard. Work very very hard. So, not surprisingly, our top entrepreneurs seemed to have a less than stellar academic history. Think Sim Wong Hoo and Eldwin Chua. These are people that the MNCs would vomit out from their ranks and told that they were un-employable.

And yet... what wouldn't I give today to BE Sim Wong Hoo and Eldwin Chua, my Phd notwithstanding?

With so much disruptive change on the horizon and in front of us - Grabtaxi, Uber, AirBnB, Facebook, Kickstarter, Redmart... the world is very different today than what it was when I grew up. The MOE can no longer make people to fit something. Why? Because the MOE (and everyone else) does not know what the world our children grow into, will be like.

As a 3rd world country, Goh Keng Swee could look at the 1st world countries and project our manpower to fit those needs. We are now a 1st world country. We have been a 1st world country for a long time now. This change in strategic direction is long overdue.

Yes... help our children find their passion. Give them the following set of skills...
- Emotional intelligence
- Social networks
- Literacy and numeracy
- Knowing how to learn and unlearn
- Respect for high standards
... and then watch them make their world.

The young all have that capacity for change. It is in the adolescent's natural psychological evolution to challenge the status quo and to question if things can be done differently. We spent so much effort in the past 2 decades trying to prepare them... to groom them... to mould them... for a future that you and I do not know. Adolescents are programmed to re-make their world.

However, in this new direction, where we actively look to bolster strengths and grow diversity of skills and encourage passion, we will have a whole field of colourful wildflowers ready to take their chances with the new world.

Their world. Not ours.

Gone are the days where the government can predict the world and protect us with their clairvoyance. It will be uncertain days ahead and only diversity can give Singapore the resilience to make it through.

We must educate our children to make (or re-make) their world so that they can shape their future. We should not make them to fit it.

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