Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Set the right standards for our education

In our drive for excellence in education, we may be doing something that is harmful for our future.

The pressure of competition in school, even in primary school, is pushing parents to engage tutors for their children. Tuition is costly and takes away the time of children to play and enjoy their childhood.

The root cause is not the competition itself, but the increasing standard that is going too far. I recall my secondary 1 maths teacher teaching the concept of ratios. The problem goes as follows, "If 3 man can repair a road in 8 days, how long will it take 6 men to repair the road?". The teacher explained, "Should it take more or less days?" If less days, then you should calculate 8 days X 3 man / 6 man = 4 days.  A few years ago, I saw a similar problem now taught in primary 4.

Do we really need to push our young children to such a high standard that they cannot cope? What is wrong with setting the syllabus at a more manageable pace for our children? What is the point of teaching them to solve problems by applying formulas that are mechanically drummed into them by tutors?

We have to re-think our approach towards educating our young. Do you agree that the standards are too high, and quite inappropriate?


Anonymous said...

Agree. And the high standards are unnecessary and it is even harmful to our future.

And ultimately does it make our nation stronger in engineering than before? Or comparable to countries like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea?

If this is harmful, it is just one of the many things which are harmful to our future.

But who cares as long as opposition is as they are and so PAP will continue to win a strong 60% mandate in future elections.

Outsider said...

"If 3 man can repair a road in 8 days, how long will it take 6 men to repair the road?"

I don't think 4 is necessary correct. We are teaching children to use a mechanical formula to solve problems without critical thinking.

Do you think that if we put 8 man to do the work, it can be completed in 1 day, or putting 16 man to do it, it will be completed in half a day and so on?

We need to teach the children critical thinking rather than feeding them formula.

Anonymous said...

"Do we really need to push our young children to such a high standard that they cannot cope?"

No point in debating the issue.
Just focus on the results of such policies.

Children of families who can afford tutors have the advantage.
The Education Minister is not stupid.
The government is also not stupid.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

A big yes. Are the MPs pushing hard enough or need to wait for another GE to push the point across? Scholars caliber may think it's simple but these are young children in the development stage of appreciating education. It is alright if you put this to GEP Students who are proven to be academically strong but a large majority is still learning. By basing on result, parents will make the wrong decision to engage more tuition for the poor children resulting added pressure to the kids. Worst case is the child continue to be under impression that he/she is not smart, lazy thus need more tuition. If one organization like MOE will to fill a Primary School with Government Scholars, can you imagine how the children cope with exams when the scholar teachers continue to set exams which they think is easy while the children think it is too difficult. Of course we have moderator but if the moderator is another scholar, the problem is compounded. I remember my Maths Professor from india conducted a regression lecture twice in 1991. Most of us do not understand. He was puzzled why majority of the students still don't understand after going through twice?

MOE is just not recognizing that they are increasing the standard too high for majority of the students especially boys who we know that a big group are late developer.

Again, are the MPs working hard enough? Singapore, we have a education problem....

michael13 said...

It must be too high a standard for Primary School Education. My eldest granddaughter(aged 8) has lost her cheerfulness since commencing Primary One at St Nicholas' Girls School in 2011. My observation is that her younger sisters(both aged 5 and aged 4) are still intact in their outlook. Pray that our Primary Education System can be overhauled to save their childhood in time.

Anonymous said...

"...I don't think 4 is necessary correct. We are teaching children to use a mechanical formula to solve problems without critical thinking."

This is a thin disguise to pursue KPI and "cheaper, better, faster"

The quality, the finish, the impact of the road is not addressed.
The focus is purely on effectiveness of manpower vs time

We produce people who think only in terms of returns in absolute numbers.

Critical thinking must include a qualitative element.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, there are 124,000 civil servants and 60,000 are in Education. If it is true, why are the parents feeling very stressful about their kids studies and spending too much money on tuition. Aren't the teachers teaching our children correctly or properly? Or teachers purposely make exam difficult so that parents have to engaged outside tuition to cope and teachers will have less teaching to do in class...

Anonymous said...

"Pray that our Primary Education System can be overhauled to save their childhood in time"

Good luck with Heng Siew Kiat, ex-MD of MAS, newbie in Education. His focus is Pre-School structure. Just like Ting Pin Ling during GE, she did not find any problem with Ministers' Salary. Heng will probably say the same about the Educational System because like the Minibond/Pinnacle saga, he didn't have the gut to tell the Govt & MAS Chairman, GCT, that something is wrong. We just have to find our way out of the 2008 financial mess & envy how Hong Kong regulator did it right...

Anonymous said...

We know the problem but we have the wrong Minister to do something about it. Too new, too obedient and too timid to tell the old guards we have a problem....

Anonymous said...

Schools nowadays try to be top and if I am correct the principal and teachers performance based on this. what is the value of our education system. well it has created as far as I can see lapse in tender system is one result. so when are we relooking starting from pre school onwards. Moe should not wash their hands and let private enterprise run pre school. who knows maybe in future all our schools will be profit oriented. very sad.

Anonymous said...

The last frontier where children can behave like children i.e. no pressure just play and learn is going to be converted into a pressure pot. The secondary and primary system buried students with books & exams and at the same time, teachers or HOD push hard on students to excel in CCA. Excel means train more to bring gory to the school. After that if you don't do well in the academic due to lack of time attending classes or revision, it is not the school problem.

Anonymous said...

Do not hope for change from MOE. Why?

i) Minister Heng is a newbie. His achievement was doing a lousy job as a MD of MAS during 2008 crisis.

ii) "Missing boy found" on 17 Aug The New Paper. Reason: PSLE Oral stress. MOE will do what MAS did. Nothing.

iii) Radio 91.3 Rod says he add pressure on his kid. Why? Came home spent 1.5 hour on maths homework. Then 1.5 hour on tuition homework.

If MOE set a certain standard for PSLE, then Kiasu MOE teachers raise the standard further. Students come back from school don't know how to do homework or pass marginally for examination, parents panick and turn on tution. Then MOE blame Parents for Children stress out problem.

Singapore Education has a problem. We told government for many years that Ministers' Salary & Taxi in COE is a problem. In 2012, they changed. We also told Govt Education is a problem for many years. They are still thinking and now they may spread the stress down to Pre-schoolers......Govt and MPs are very slow. Maybe MPs Kaisi to voice out as it affects their $15,000 per month part time allowance. New Minister also Kiasi as it affects their $700,000 a year salary. It is very tiring to be Singaporean. Feedback and more feedback and Govt react very slowly. When come to building Casino, Ministers' Salary increase, they work very fast and do lots of marketing. When come to real problem, only react when poor GE results happen.

Anonymous said...

What are our educators talking about when they came up with the slogan: Teach less, learn more?

How do they hope to do that is a mystery to me to this day.

Anonymous said...

They have to work fast ( eg Casino ) because they have already committed to Mr Sheldon Adelson and all the other stakeholders like Genting.

GLC and many corporations practice this style: promise to deliver everything under 5 mins, just so they get the contract.

They go to shareholders and sing a song & dance a throw in threats like " if we do not do this, your sister will become a maid in another country".

It also shows to Mr Adelson that they are in full control of the manpower, administration, economy and finance... impressive yah?

But, when it comes to workers' requests for higher pay...

" the market conditions are uncertain"

" we will discuss it with the board and let you know soon"

"You are not adding value, how to increase your pay?"

" You are already too expensive, be thankful we still employ you!"

Welcome to singapore.

Anonymous said...

"Heng Swee Keat calls for S'poreans to stay united" http://www.todayonline.com/Hotnews/EDC120819-0000045/Heng-Swee-Keat-calls-for-Sporeans-to-stay-united.

Born 1961.
Singapore Police Force (SPF)- 1983 Singapore Civil Service's Administrative Service - 1997. Principal Private Secretary to LKY - 1997.
Permanent Secretary MTI.
MD MAS 2005 - 2011

Victims of Structured Deposit suffered in 2008 till now while regulators in Hong Kong stand out and protect the retail investors from the banks and finanical institutions. Became a MP without much effort through Tampines GRC similar to Tin Ping Ling through Marine Parade GRC. Now Minister of Education taking over the crazy mad educational system which many has been telling the Govt that they have set the standard too high for the Primary/Secondary School kids. Will he do something? Probably nothing given his lousy track record in handling DBS HN5/Minibond/Pinnacle notes. How can a Money Man like him did not act the same as Hong Kong regulators when the victims were clearly misled, misinformed by the sellers during the marketing phase? After MAS investigation report, again the victims were left to fend for themselves....

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