Why the need for contrasting subject at 'A' levels?

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Why the need for contrasting subject at 'A' levels?

Postby mjl » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:38 am

I understand tha currently, JC science students can take at most 3 Maths & Science subjects, plus one contrasting subject (e.g. Humanities subject like History/Geography/Literature, Economics, Chinese GP or Literature), at H2 level. In my time, we were allowed to take all 4 Science subjects (e.g. Maths & 3 Sciences, or double Maths & 2 Sciences).

Since when is the 'A' level system that needs a contrasting subject introduced? I find this system quite silly, what's wrong with specialising in Science at JC level? Why is there no more double Maths?

I think probably NUS High is the only institution that allows her students to continue taking all science 4 subjects up to Year 6 (no 'A' levels though, students only take their school exams and optional Advanced Placement exams for Maths & Science subjects). How about those taking IB - can one just take Maths & Science subjects only without any contrasting subject?

mjl
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Postby kaydenbrown » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:19 pm

Well... in the Ivy league schools, people have to take contrasting subjects to make sure that they have a well rounded education. These kids turn out to become really knowledgeable and 'smart'.

Even from my experience as a student and educator, a broad based education is best for training future leaders. singapore reverted to this just in time. That also explains the growing unpopularity of the traditional UK system that stresses specialisation into narrow subject fields.
For example, a scientist that has a good background in policy making, liberal arts or even history is better equipped to handle many challenges in his/her career.
For doctors, lawyers and engineers, having different perspectives on issues are extremely beneficial.

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Postby justbehappy » Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:03 pm

kaydenbrown wrote:Even from my experience as a student and educator, a broad based education is best for training future leaders.

Hi kaydenbrown,

I don't think we should train everyone as future leaders, and anyway not everyone can be trained as leaders. With no specialisation and deep passion for a particular area, it is unlikely that major breakthroughs can be made in that area.

kaydenbrown wrote:For example, a scientist that has a good background in policy making, liberal arts or even history is better equipped to handle many challenges in his/her career. For doctors, lawyers and engineers, having different perspectives on issues are extremely beneficial.

I agree that having broader perspectives on issues are beneficial to any professional field, however you do not have to achieve that through taking a contrasting subject in the 'A' levels or in the U. It can be done through reading widely (out of school academia), or this is already being addressed by taking the General Paper.

My opinion is, a broad-based education is sufficient up to secondary 2 level (which most schools are implementing, for all students to take all science and humanities subjects up to Sec 2). From Sec 3 to JC2, students start to specialise to a certain degree by opting for more science or more humanities subjects. You can't take all subjects. Even if you take 1 contrasting subject (e.g. History) in senior years, you are still lacking the breadth/depth in other contrasting subjects. It does not mean that one who takes one extra humanities subject in JC has a broader based education compared to one who takes all science subjects.

justbehappy
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Postby frankchn » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:03 pm

How about those taking IB - can one just take Maths & Science subjects only without any contrasting subject?


IB Diplomas are even stricter:
- Group 1: Language A1 (Native Language)
- Group 2: Second language
- Group 3: Individuals and societies (Econs, Geog, History, Business, etc...)
- Group 4: Experimental sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc)
- Group 5: Mathematics and computer science.
- Group 6: The arts (optional, can take another Group 1-4 subject or Further Mathematics or Computer Science or approved school-based syllabus)

Well... in the Ivy league schools, people have to take contrasting subjects to make sure that they have a well rounded education.


Correct. In Stanford, for instance, I have to take 5 general education courses (one each in Humanities, Engineering, Math, Natural Science, Social Science) and 2 Education for Citizenship courses (courses are categorized as follows: American Culture, Global Community, Gender and Ethic & Reasoning).

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