The lack of critical thinking in our education system is a cause for concern

The only way I see the government being able to solve our economic woes is to strive to lower the country's current population density; this will help to significantly reduce the pressure on our land resource which is the major cause of the high cost of living and yet not matched by the rise in our wages, save for the PAP Civil Servant elites who can pay themselves what they like with tax payers’ money and live off the tax payers with their totalitarian rule.

And the only way to keep our population density under control is to upgrade our economic model to one based mainly on high value-added industries and weed out the relatively labour intensive lower value-added industries, both in manufacturing as well as in services.

For that to happen, we have to do away with the robotic rote-learning PAP education system that have thus far cramped minds and seriously stifled both creativity and self-expression.

We have to start by doing away with the obsession with the model of dishing rewards based largely on one’s ability to excel in the exams when he/she was 18 years old, and by extension the scholarship(s).

We stand out as the only Confucian robotic East Asian country that have become so obsessed with this archaic model of the Mandarin exam scholarship. It has become so ridiculous that we now have scholarships for just about everything, short of one for taxi driving and toilet cleaning.

Our education evaluation system should not become one of competing simply to attain the best grades; instead it should be one that is sufficiently entrenched in wanting to assess the individual student's ability to thoroughly understand what is being taught. Teach via means of engagement and lively discussion, rather than by mere mechanical feeding of facts and formulas.

The pupil should be the one taking the initiative to offer answers rather than simply waiting for the teacher to respond. And so be trained in the process to conduct his own independent and logical thinking in order to come up with an answer. The teachers could make the questions trickier at times so as to entice some creative answers or ideas from the student cohort.

The teachers’ assessment in the final grading should be given far more weight than it has been given today, which is practically none. The assessment we have today is based totally on exam scores.

Such scores should not be measured in absolute numeric (or alpha-numeric) terms but rather be be used to objectively gauge one's ability to grasp the subject matter. For instance, very proficient, proficient, not proficient, etc.(only a suggestion) instead of marks or grades. Or who scored high distinctions or achieved the most number of A’s.

And be rewarded for life based on those scores, which is what the Singapore system is really all about today. And perpetuated unquestioningly by the same scholar Civil Servants who themselves went through this senseless grind of a treadmill themselves, and who are also the ones designing our national policies.

So that drove every student as well as their parents into devoting all their energy and resources into striving to attain the best exam grades mechanically at the expense of everything else, including thinking.

Tuition teachers do not teach you how to think. You are only being unhealthily fattened (by them) with fodder. Now do you understand why the minds and personalities of our top scholars are so deficient and unimpressive?

There are literally millions of YouTube videos that demonstrated how impressive those raised under a non-robotic education system elsewhere were when they spoke their minds or provided discourse on a technical subject. I challenge anyone to upload one video that showed how someone raised under the Singaporean education system genuinely impressed. Not our million-dollar Ministers. Nor our million-dollar paper Generals or Police chiefs or any of those so-deemed top scholars. I have yet to see any of them that impressed me.

So we are stuck with this low-grade economic model and can only compete by keeping our wages low, and by extension our standard of living, instead of producing value-added outputs with our brains a la homegrown Israeli high-tech companies so adored by Nasdaq, which our scholar administrators aren’t able to produce any for the longest while.

This article was first published over at TR Emeritus on 27 January 2016. It is reproduced with permission.


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