Education as an equalising instrument for society

General comments and chit-chat, or tell us how we can improve KiasuParents.com

Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby kaka » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:49 am

In today's s ST, there is an article "Finnish school system ticks all the right boxes". I read with interest and was pleasantly :yikes: when I read:
"The primary aim of education is to serve as an equalising instrument for society." I am a novice in education systems and I thought wow, this is such a noble goal.

It is so different in Singapore. Our education system ranks our children with the PSLE COP ... top 1%, 10% etc into the top tier, 2nd tier etc schools. That's why the rush to more tuition centres, more SAHMs ... more focus on doing better than others instead of learning for knowledge.

Can it work for Singapore?

kaka
BlueBelt
BlueBelt
 
Posts: 244
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:42 pm
Total Likes: 0


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby UncleLim » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:24 pm

I am not sure about Singapore. I do not think we have a system to educate the young.

But we do have the world's top exam-taking preparation system. Just check the profits of Learning Lab and exam-paper photocopiers.

UncleLim
BrownBelt
BrownBelt
 
Posts: 682
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:47 am
Total Likes: 7


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby Chenonceau » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:48 pm

Our educational system actually stratifies our society. Children get streamed into best better good schools. They make friends with people with similar grades. As they grow up, they hang out with the same people. The social structure settles into strata.

We've followed the anglo-saxon testing methodologies so blindly that we no longer have a Ministry of Education, we have Ministry of Testing... we no longer have schools that teach, we have schools that test beyond what is taught... we no longer have teachers, we have test writers and markers... and people who write audit reports so that schools can get awards and funding.

Meanwhile, the MOE self congratulates. Every other month, it'll publicise the "best practices" that can be found in a few schools... and schools organise fairs to show off their teaching methods. BUT, despite all this advertising, so many parents still have to shoulder the burden of teaching their own children, or pay others to do so because teachers believe in NOT teaching what is covered in the last 2 to 4 questions of every exam.

"The good ones will know" said the HOD I spoke to, "And this is our way of differentiating them." What really happens is that the good ones with no access to quality external help WON'T know, and those who do know come from families with money and resources to teach to these last 2 questions UNTAUGHT by the school.

The more self-congratulatory signals MOE gives out, the more tempted I am to vote opposition next round... because the reality of the school system that I am living does not look ANYTHING like what one reads about in the papers. In fact, every PSLE cohort from here on generates a pool of parents who KNOW that the papers report a reality that is far from the realities we go through... and these people will also get disillusioned by all the self-congratulatory messaging we read in the newspapers.

Chenonceau
KiasuGrandMaster
KiasuGrandMaster
 
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:57 pm
Total Likes: 19


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby GoopPwr » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:15 pm

UncleLim wrote:I am not sure about Singapore. I do not think we have a system to educate the young.

But we do have the world's top exam-taking preparation system. Just check the profits of Learning Lab and exam-paper photocopiers.


and the many more tuition centers coming up....

the education system is one of the reasons for the low birth rate, the values and attributes of the working adults, etc .

without tuition centers and private tuitors and the efforts of parents, the results ( which the schools take credit for ) would turn out to be differant, very differant .

GoopPwr
GreenBelt
GreenBelt
 
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:04 pm
Total Likes: 0


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby pepper spice » Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:09 pm

without tuition centers and private tuitors and the efforts of parents, the results ( which the schools take credit for ) would turn out to be differant, very differant .[/quote]

I was thinking of the above too ...
Recently, a young principal trumpet about how well his school's academic performances are. As I listened amusedly, some thoughts crossed my mind:
- at what price the kids pay? (endless tuitions, enrichments, coachings by parents, assessment books, sleep deprivation - if psle top scorer studied 6-7 hours after school, can guess what time she sleeps);
- are educators genuinely concerned about students' learning, welfare, holistic education or more concerned about their own KPIs;
- in that principal's trumpeting speech, shouldn't he credit the tuition centres, enrichment centres and most importantly, parents with deep deep pockets?

Once, one mother urged me. "Go, must send your child for science tuition, cannot rely on school." Her child told me, "without my science tuition, I think I will die. My teachers just give me worksheets to do without teaching. Sometimes she just show the class some videos and that's it.

Just go to United Square, just look at the number of students having tuition there, class after class. You can see students in all sorts of uniforms, RGPS, NYPS, SCGS, HPPS, RGS ..... (some are even classmates + tuition mates). Even GEP students (despite the small teacher-student ratio), high ability students, IP students also need tuition. All these high ability students, aren't they able to learn independently? One GEP teacher once made this comment, "if I take away all the tuitions or parental help from you guys, not many of you can survive the system."

When all our high ability kids grow up to lead Singapore, to become ministers and CEOs, do they still need tuitions to do their jobs well? Would our future future prime minister be embarrassed if it is found that he/she was also one of the heavily-tuitioned kid? I'm sure Learning Lab or Mind Stretcher would have published his high score some where in their advertisements. Or perhaps, he is one of the models for chicken essence advertisements.

pepper spice
GreenBelt
GreenBelt
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:39 pm
Total Likes: 0



Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby Chenonceau » Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:14 pm

What ticks me off is the spate of self-congratulatory publicity the MOE unleashes every now and then in the national newspapers. What is reported there is so unreal... so different from what parents and children encounter everyday.

The effect is to undermine trust in the government, not enhance it.

Chenonceau
KiasuGrandMaster
KiasuGrandMaster
 
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:57 pm
Total Likes: 19


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby GoopPwr » Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:57 pm

I feel one of the worst that can happen is how all these pushing and pushing for that elusive top marks affects the relationship between child and parents.

in this regard, clearly parents are to take the responsibilities. But, at the same time, for that next promotion, we know how the schools have called or email parents in the effort to push the child to get higher marks

all these while the moe and teachers and principals and top people pat themselves on their back, and each others'back and give themselves a good assessment .

the good teachers who have the passion to teach and nurture, and are aware of the fundamental flaws in this system leaves the industry and we have one less good teacher in the system.

my son did well for the SA2 , relative to SA1 . If it is not for good tuitors and my wife and my effort, it would surely, not have turned out this way. But, I am thinking how many more shitty years we have to do this ?
Last edited by GoopPwr on Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

GoopPwr
GreenBelt
GreenBelt
 
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:04 pm
Total Likes: 0


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby pixiedust » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:13 pm

Did you all see this in today's ST forum page ?

This also contributes to the high competitiveness at PSLE, hence the blooming tuition industry and why only t-score >260 is considered "good".

I am sadden to read that teachers in JC treat the non-IP students differently. Indeed our education system spawns elitism.

From ST Forum 17/12/2011 :
Image

pixiedust
BlackBelt
BlackBelt
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 7:31 pm
Total Likes: 4


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby 3Boys » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:26 pm

You will see that even in this short thread, the seemingly common position 'there is something wrong with the system', actually encompasses several incompatible positions.

Bottom line.....you can't please everyone.

I am actually reasonably comfortable with how our system is working, apart from the P-school priority admission system, which DOES stratify socially between the haves and have-nots.

Yes, right now some families with means will have an advantage, but if you look back beyond the last 50 years or so, it has always been the case, and far worse, I would put it to you. Equality in education is a recent concept even in so-called advanced countries, admirable and desirable, but less than easy to realise. Does not mean we should not try, but I don't believe the answer is to dumb down the system.

Is there a correlation between tuned-in parents and kid's results? Absolutely, but that's okay, isn't it?

3Boys
KiasuGrandMaster
KiasuGrandMaster
 
Posts: 5014
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:28 pm
Total Likes: 220


Re: Education as an equalising instrument for society

Postby Chenonceau » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:32 pm

You don't have to dumb down the system. Teach better. No one would complain if the gap between what is tested and not taught, were small. It's all a matter of degree. The gap between what is tested and not taught is far too large. Instead of acknowledging the problems with
(1) inadequate textbooks
(2) inadequate teaching resources to provide skills practice
... there is PR spin after PR spin about how wonderful the MOE is.

I can recognise none of the initiatives I have recently been reading about.

I was a very staunch government supporter but even I am increasingly turned off (retching) at the national newspapers' PR efforts about how great our education system is. Every parent who has accompanied a child through PSLE and knows how wide the gap between the tested but not taught is, will be able to see the disjunct between public communication and actual reality.

And the PR spin will backfire.

To say that no system can please everyone is a cop out statement. We have tried to give well-reasoned feedback. We have tried to propose solutions but we have an MOE that believes it is good enough. Instead of doing something about textbooks and online resources (which would REALLY level the playing field) it wastes time on PR spin after PR spin in newspapers and in school fairs set up to "show off" to parents what the MOE can do.

I think it is disgusting.

Widespread education is itself a recent invention. Monarchies were toppled and democracy and communism ushered in as a response to the social inequities of the past. Pointing to equality of opportunity as a recent invention is also no excuse for inequality of opportunity today. Either we accept social inequality and think it is inevitable.... and that over time, we will have different social classes such as those in Victorian England, or we believe that we should have a level playing field and work towards that.

Chenonceau
KiasuGrandMaster
KiasuGrandMaster
 
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:57 pm
Total Likes: 19


Next

Return to Recess Time