Sunday, January 10, 2010

What should be taught in Schools and Colleges?

After all these years of studying in Singapore, what I realise is that the education system has to change drastically to meet contemporary knowledge based economy.

Starting from secondary school education, our education system focus a lot on learning from the book. Every little thing taught in our schools here are focused on getting students to perform well at the O' level. I was so worried about getting good grades that I forgot to enjoy my life and learning life skills.

Even in JCs, loads and loads of information are thrown at us and we just simply study without even understanding why we are studying.

Even now as a University student, I certainly know that given any subject, I will score well. But, what’s the point? What is the need to emphasis on grades when no one cares about it at the end of the day when you apply for a job or even when you have secured a job.

I would suggest that our education system needs to change such that we allow students to expose themselves to different aspects of life. I would prefer yoga classes in secondary schools. I would force every student to develop some skills in arts. Currently only students whose parents are interested in getting their children to all these extra circular activities enrol them in such lessons. What about others? This is where our education system has to step in.

Our schools should aim to develop critical skills and analytical skills among students. I would say this is certainly lacking currently. The most importantly they should get rid of the “students listening to teachers' lessons” practice. Instead, they should hire three teachers for each lesson to guide students to do independent learning, which is a life skill essential to become successful.

And most importantly, during secondary and Junior College, the education system should be such that the University is just a continuation of their education instead of something totally new, which is the case at present.

I believe there are loads of space for improvement in our education system and I sincerely feel that the ministry should step in quickly and alter the system to be more practical and useful.


  1. I totally disagree with your opinion that the education system is S'pore is not good.
    I have been in many schools over my school life, from India to S'pore.
    Seeing both sides has made me feel that S'pore education system is totally practical in the real world. Compared to Indian Education systems, the need for memory and studying for the sake of studying is less here.I don't deny that they is no memory work required here but atleast i understand what i am memorising! From personal experience, i can remember even the minute details that i studied 4-5 years ago here for O'level, but not what i learnt just a year ago in 12th Std. All i remember is that i mugged everything for the final exam, vomitted it out on the paper and forgot about it the minute i left the exam hall! Now what use is that???
    Moreover, the CCA and activities in secondary school really built a lot of character in me which i doubt i would have got in a school in India.

  2. All I say is something very simple- it comes from a simple calculus class. I am going to bore some people ,but bear me out- While doing integrals, we use trignometric substitutions to simplify them, like x= rcos theta or x= tan theta/2 and all that. Do you know what makes them so special- the substitution, that is?- it's to do with the domains from where x comes from- that is the values that x can take. r cos theta and tan theta/2 are chosen when x can take values from -infinity to + infinity. Tell me how many students, even here in Singapore can give me that answer in A levels? How many even know the proper concept of a function, domains and ranges?? We are bombarded with all this info, both here and in India, but we can make no sense of them since most teachers themselves don't know the basics. The answer is not remembering all the deets! It's in applying them to a new concept and understanding why they are done!- and we wonder why Singapore does not produce Nobel Laureates!! They know the basics but they don't know how to make use of them in a new problem or why they are done!- lack of critical thinking is what plagues Asian schools now!

  3. Well certainly, I am not comparing the education system of India. I know what it is like there, totally useless... And i think we should not even compare it...its beyond comparisions...haha... i am talking about how our education system (singapore's) should be improved...

  4. P.S I like the points about continuity of study- we need people to ask questions!

  5. good comments jambu... but a bit difficult to understand your math here... haha... you are rite about no one understanding why we are doing certain things.

    Besides, i also feel that a lot of singaporeans are not doing what they like, rather what they think will help them earn a good job... well i am certianly one of them... not really enjoying my course...

  6. @maran Education system in Singapore is certainly analytical in nature. The emphasis on problem solving is really appreciable but the problem is in practical training. But practical training takes long way to go. Practical training is also attainable in small state like Singapore. If you see Mechanical Engineering at NTU, the emphasis on practical training is there but still its lacking. I think the university has realized it that is the reason behind change of curriculum and project based assessment. NTU and universities in Singapore are definitely moving away from age old rote learning system practiced in Asia.

    @Powergal90 I totally agree with you. Indian education system is completely non sense. I don't think there is much emphases on analytical skills. I heard CBSE is doing a lot of changes now so sooner or later we can see a better system in India. But the real problem in India is not system but the way it is provided. There is a huge inequity in the system, what I mean? is not centralized. Every state is divided on education lines too and within the state also there is a huge divide. India can't witness equitable growth if such kind of provision exist. So I sincerely hope Kapil Sibal moot centralization of education in India.

  7. @ Maran- it's an asian thing- how many asians actually work on stuff like cosmology or stuff they actually like??? I, myself was an aspiring physicist, but I had to make do with Mecho Engg- just because taking a science stream in India was akin to commiting professional harakiri!

    And the maths is simple- r cos theta takes values from -infinity to +infinity and so does tan theta/2- hence. using them in an integral where x can take values from -infinty to +infinity is correct! :P Simple- what you use in a substitution must have the same effect as when you don't! :D

  8. how about we split different states into countries... I strongly believe its better for everyone in India...

  9. @Maran Abhey, your sophisticatedly living here in Singapore and making a comment that India should be split into different countries. I don't buy that idea at all. Instead, India should be centralized rather decentralizing every basic amenities a state can provide. I know why you want India to split :P

  10. @ velan- I dunno man- even if there is little cultivation of critical thinking in normal schools- many actually try to learn by rote the skills that they would need to solve every problem that they know- and they spout some of the same nonsense that is being taught to them by their teachers.

    Engg is certainly more practical oriented than other stuff adn there must be an emphasis on how things must work in the field- but there also needs to be more critical thinking, which I sadly find lacking in many profs here- many take the stuff in the book at face value and never question- which is the root of all progress. Trust me, until people can think critically, there will be a dearth of world class research in any institution and though it is not required for the professional world at large, when you go and get a job, it is none the less a good habit to cultivate!

  11. Splitting countries is not an option- it is nonsensical and if we do- then, taking TN as an example- TN would have water problems, mineral wealth problems- there would be visa hassles and all that- there would be a major amt of administrative headaches and relations will not be friendly from the country it splits from- India, in this case. This would lead to bullying from the former parent country and also many would not recognise the country of TN! Just imagine what the population will have to undergo, when rail services are stopped, and tracks are taken out of the system, and the stoppage of Cauvery water, and TN being forced to pay extra for it! Imagine famines and all that- coz that is what will happen!

    No splitting India into separate countries!!!

  12. Why did splitting come about on a post about Education??

  13. "Indian education system is completely non sense" - Thats a really sweeping stmt. There is a general and widely accepted notion in the developed world that Indians are strong in math and science skills. No education system is perfect. And no system is complete nonsense either. Everything has room for improvement. Lets probe further and suggest such ways to improve.

  14. @Jagdish Chander, I am sorry for that sweeping statement. I was bit overboard. Apparently Indians who have gone to developed world are the brightest. Anyways everyone wants a better system in place to equip Indians for future. Mainly not to export good Indians aboard.