Saturday, July 23, 2011

Education System Churning Out Many Mindless Automatons

Was clearing a drawer & came across a newspaper cutting i kept from years ago(at least 3 years). From the issues pointed out few years ago till today, the problem still largely remains. Education system is perhaps the slowest to change according to Robert Kiyosaki. Its main purpose is not so much to educate but to churn out mindless automatons who follows orders without question on the 'factory conveyor belt'

My previous supervisors find me hard to manage cause i have a tendency to question the status quo. They prefer yes-men/women who are 'team players' who just simple follow orders without question. Mindless automatons following orders are given a better grade during appraisal while me being seen as a 'troublemaker' is given a mediocre one. Perhaps is a way to push someone to leave.

Great contributors like Albert Einstein & Thomas Edison would be severely punished under a rigid system like S'pore's since they are not paying attention to boring stuff during class. Memorising such boring stuff is like eating dog shit to many who are not attuned to the traditional academic path.

How is it fair that a young person's fate is often decided primarily by answering a few pieces of paper in a 2hour period? Does one choose a spouse & decide on one's happiness after a 2 hour speeddating session? Both are ridiculous.

Awesome video summary:

Our Smart Students Not Willing to Think Critically
I find it ironic that after decades of praising the education system for producing students who are adept at memorising formulas, a skill that has enabled them to be world beaters in international maths & science competitions, the government now wants youths who are able to express their opinions about what sort of S'pore they want to build.

Unfortunately, as in the case of the bilingual policy, we cannot have your cake & eat it, a fact that has taken the government some time to figure out.

The more we reward students for their ability to memorise model answers, the less willing students will be to use their critical minds. Why should they risk getting low grades by expressing critical, unorthodox views when it is so easy for them to just be spoon-fed by their teachers?

In his article "Lost generation or future leaders: Our call", Mr Verghese Matthews questions whether figures of authority have instilled in young people the critical spirit & the moral courage to use it for the good of society.

He is optimistic that there is hope yet for S'pore's future: "I'm confident that there are many young critical thinkers in our society who are testing the waters."

I applaud Mr Matthews' attempt to bring into public discussion the question of whether enough is being done to encourage critical thinking among S'porean youths but alas his article has come 2 decades too late for my generation.

Having gone to a top secondary school & junior college & now doing my undergraduate studies at a local university i can safety say that there is an appalling lack of passionate, critical thinkers, even among the intellectual elite of S'pore's youth.

It is not that my generation does not have smart people with critical thinking skills. The problem is that too many of my peers lack the moral courage to speak out after going through an education system that rewards conformity & punishes originality.

We have become a nation of sheep, too afraid to challenge the authority of our herders. Few wolves left among us who do challenge the status quo run the risk of being labelled as anarchists & troublemakers.

It is no wonder that many have become so jaded that they no longer feel it worth their while to carry on expressing their views, choosing instead to either remain quiet or to head for greener pastures elsewhere, in which case they run the risk of being labelled as 'quitters'.

In both cases, thw ultimate loser is S'pore, for conformity results in stagnation while 'invention is always born of dissension', as the French philosopher Jean Francois Lyotard so rightly pointed out.

In 1784, the great german philoshoper Immanuel Kant wrote his famous essay 'What is Enlightment? in which he appealed to his countrymen to have the courage & resolution to use their own reasoning skills instead of blindly depending on the authority of so-called experts. More than 2 centuries on & in a country far away from his beloved Prussia, his emotional appeal still remains relevant.

Sadly, the works of Kant seldom take pride of place on the bookselves of many of our policy-makers, who would much rather fill their shelves with more 'practical' books such as those by economist John Maynard Keynes.

The price S'pore is paying for their narrow reading habits is an entire generation of lost sheep: My generation.

Jamie Han Li Chou

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