By Dr R G Eli
In  “A Matter Of Perspective”  TOC, Nov 28th 2012… I wrote in summary. Let me now start explaining in some detail, beginning with saying, “Some of us accept the claims of others without giving their presenting arguments  sufficient thought…..”   Possibilities are that we’re either trusting, respectful, naïve, lazy or simply afraid?
Whatever the reason, there are those of us who are unwilling/unable to analyze the argument(s) offered and to think hard about what’s been said. Why is this difficult? Don’t  we know how to analyze, to criticize, to challenge, to identify premise and conclusion, to demand further explanation etc?
Further, is it possible that today’s Singaporeans tend to accept what anyone with a semblance of authority claims….ie we don’t know how to question “Authority” and we may not be comfortable with speaking our minds freely?
If so, then we need  to change the way we think. We can curse and swear, and some of us do that well, but that won’t get us anywhere. instead, we must ask of any argument, what’s the reason for speaking/writing thus (that will provide the goal ) what’s the context and the history behind the statement? What’s the argument like? What’s it based on? Does it make sense?
Is it plausible? What’s our response based on and how clear is that?
Hard thinking demands time and energy. It requires good logical thinking and strong writing skills in order to express the thought work. It’s almost easier to have someone think for you and tell you what to do. But that form of paternalism for any democracy can be very dangerous.
Is this where we are? If so, we must deal with it. We have to go beyond notions of economic prosperity. To be comfortable, even rich  – these are not bad goals, but they do not sufficiently constitute what it means to be human.
So where do we start? First, let’s first take a quick look at some MOE goal statements :

  1. “Currently, Singapore’s education system is doing well. Our students excel in examinations and integrate successfully into our disciplined workforce..” (historical context : MOE’s Curriculum Review report (Learning, Creating, Communicating) , 1998 para 1.1)
  2. “ ..to remain competitive, education must broaden its focus beyond examination results and discipline. The education system must produce creative and critical thinkers..” (Ibid 1.1)
  3. “at least 20% will achieve a high degree of proficiency in English…within this group…we can expect a smaller group of Singaporeans to achieve mastery…” MOE’s English Language Syllabus 2010 (Primary/Foundation/Secondary/Normal/Technical) pg 7

MOE Curriculum/Syllabus work appears highly complex, but is really highly obtuse. If only 20% of our children achieve a “high degree of proficiency..” ,  how many of the remaining 80% will be able to comprehend, analyze, even respond, to what others are saying??? We must achieve a high degree of competence in thinking and writing across the entire curriculum. If we cannot get beyond a simple foreign survey (like Bloomberg et al), is there any hope for clear thinking and sharp written expression at all?
I believe there is, but as it stands, our focus is wrong, our methodology poor, our vision insufficient. We will probably get what we’ve planned for, and the result won’t be efficacious.  We need concise and effective remedial change now.

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