Thursday, August 22, 2013

No time to think, write about Education

Link to Bertha Henson's article.

Bertha has put out an excellent article today. Very useful when for the past couple of days I could only spare the time to read newspaper article's headlines and one or two lines summaries from the wires.

I can write a book on this subject or just a few short paragraphs which few would understand. Sorry!

Most people don't realize that they actually want a free pass when it comes to education. They all want the system to be shaped it such a way that their own kids would be successful. Listening to them giving feedback on radio, I found many have also become well practiced at selling their point of view even. I believe a growing number can only see the issue from their own perspective too as they believed they have the fairest view. How to persuade such people? The education system that would make everyone happy, no put that to the majority happy, can never exist.

Those who had gained from the system inadvertently try to preserve their success through their kids. The time tested way to achieve this is to belong to the right group - the birth of the elite schools.

If every family gets its wish we would have a classless society, an impossible Utopia. At best we could only respect each other as equals whatever our social standing. Such a society will take longer to emerge than the lifespan of Singapore. For those who believe that we need to nurture competitive winners to keep this place going since we have to compete successfully against all outsiders, how is a society of winners and losers going to turn into one where everyone is equally respected? The worst job in Cabinet is to be in charge of Education. The minister will always be asking parents to be patient. In fact they have to be that forever.

As a realist, I do not try to solve system wide problems. We have highly qualified and compensated ministers and civil servants to do that. Time and tide waits for no man as I watched my children grow up. I had to fashion my own solutions. The question I ask myself is how many people are able to do the same in their own way? I think not many.

As a politician you are paid to be a busy body to solve everyone's problems if that were possible. Tharman's brainwave is the concept of many peaks and many models of success. In this way the ranks of the successful can grow very large. Conceptually it is a beautiful idea but the devil is in the details. Heng Swee Keat who used to report to Tharman at MAS will have to do just that. Already he is starting to by selling that the university route is not the only way to success. Our issues with education in order to get results will force politicians to get into social engineering eventually. Do they see that coming? Because people will not be persuaded with just words to change behavior much less attitude.  How many believe every school is a good school. That is the starting point in the thousand mile journey to everyone is also good at something and worthy of as much respect. This is the most practical outcome to classless society.

Every school is a good school? Even if that was true, my tuition teacher is better than yours. So you are going to try every tutor is a good tutor? With Education, you solve one problem it reappear in another guise elsewhere because we are fixated with winning. One game ends, there is always another one appearing somewhere until it belongs to those who are willing and can afford the $$$.

As far as I can see, still the winner takes it all. It is a bad system and I hope people realize any alternative is worse. You are fortunate if you have faith in a higher power. You have escaped the system!

It is dawning on me that Heng Swee Keat could turn out to be one of the best if not the best Education Minister we have. He is taking the bull by its horns. The guy has faith and courage. Here is what he like to see more often and I had even blogged about it before as the my most important blog to date but for this to become common currency that is making heaven on earth, which is impossible. Meanwhile I can still recall how RGS clapped loudly and booed at other competing teams when they made a mistake in a Physics competition at NUS a few months back. To those girls nothing mattered as much as winning. What moral bankruptcy. If our best keep up with such myopic attitude they will discover in their lifetimes the end of Singapore. Only a few will escape most will sink with the rest. Good luck!

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