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Examination Eugenics March 16, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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Whenever the A- or O-Level results are released, you always see the same stories in the newspapers – students in the elite schools praying in trepidation although for exam results, there really isn’t a deus ex machina, and then their jubilant faces as they receive, their straight A’s.  All’s dandy in RJC, and even the weeping students who have a B or a C which tarnished their oh-so-perfect results admit that they did relatively well.  So why are there weepers?  Because of the fear that you can’t get into medical school/some famous overseas uni/that you may end up in FASS (gasp!) with a low-paying job and no future.

And once again, the age-old question resurfaces: is perfection that important? Why do our students, and many parents too, believe that the only way to success is perfect results-scholarship-governmental job?  OR how about landing a place in medical or law school? As a people, we have come to equate good results with a good job.  But how many people with good results in the A Levels are struggling to cope with university overseas on a governmental scholarship? In Singapore, i think, you can talk about academic eugenics – condemnation comes with flunking one examination at any particular stage of your schooling time.  It’s a form of elimination and it’s very clear – fail this examination and your future is screwed.

And because the definition of ‘your future is screwed’ is a very subjective one (well to most students belonging to any one JC, it seems objective), students do their darndest to get a perfect score to avoid this Apocalyptic situation.  And for the overwhelming majority of students, there is only one success formula (which has been tried and tested since God-knows-when): cramming. The other alternative is learning out of interest, but then again, most students would think that this is actually very nice in theory, but practically useless.  There is always this risk of getting carried away on one subject and neglecting the rest, you know. And what’s more, why study everything when the bare minimum will do?

That’s only too common in Singapore – the bare minimum. Like to survive the academic eugenics programme which is the Singaporean education system, the bare minimum is required, just like in biological evolution – a single mutation which confers benefits will ensure the survival of the mutant.  There are no further mutations until necessary.  It’s always the bare minimum.  Little students are interested of whatever is outside the classroom except their CCAs.  And guess what the CCAs are for!  It’s to give the impression of a ‘balanced schooling life,’ when school life is not balanced at all.  More often than not, you are in school all day, coming back exhausted in the evenings and then scrambling to finish your homework.  This is a ‘perfect’ student – this is perhaps the indoctrination into working life which the Gahmen wants.  As such, students probably only care enough to do the bare minimum which secures them an advantage and nothing more.

I have friends in the UK who just want to finish university and start work.  And because they, too, are MOE scholars (i’m not saying who), i’m pretty sure that this cycle will carry on.  Do the bare minimum, get your perfect results and get into a good university.  In the meantime, let me make sure my bonus is a big and fat one.  As a whole, the Singaporean education system has catastrophically failed to instil a passion for learning in the students, no matter whatever credo a teacher goes by.  Parents and students alike only want one thing – to do well.  To get a good future.  Nothing more.  Why bother, say, reading up on Aristotle? He’s not relevant! When i try to talk to some MOE friends (there are others who will argue with me into the wee hours), they just go, ‘that’s too deep for me: i’d rather remain innocent and happy.’  Passion? What passion?

The academic eugenics system is, thus, good at showing you those who are willing to work hard, not those who have passion.  True, you need the workers.  But you also need the passionate few who are willing to engage themselves and think of new ideas.  Who will lead the workers? The PAP? Did you know that inbreeding is very dangerous?  As Elia Diodati says, this is a perfect storm brewing:

I can envision a perfect storm waiting to happen: when all these people are so obsessed with their perfect educational credentials that they can’t bear to set them aside to actually learn things in school, and cling on to the delusions that a perfect transcript will give them any kind of competitive edge in graduate school or the job market, or even help them become a better entrepreneur.

There are, in Singapore, certain markers for success: Either you’re a doctor, or a lawyer, or a civil servant on scholarship.  These are the three markers for success in Singapore.  And every uni student will tell you that they are studying out of passion, but how many are studying it to fit in with society’s image of ‘successful’?  And to rationalise it, because it isn’t very nice to study with a cold, pragmatic aim in sight, they explain away their choice of subject with ‘passion.’  You can’t read a person’s mind, can you?  That person who is reading up always could be doing it to put himself forward in the eugenics race, not necessarily because he is passionate!

After all, he’s probably from an elite institute – go figure.

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Comments»

1. taryn - March 17, 2008

Hey!
I have to agree man – elitism is just rank in Singapore. Urghs.

(Pssst. Anyway, if you moderate comments, just dropping by to say hi! No need to publish this comment. Haha. My new blog is linked there too. Don’t link me, alright!)

TAKE CARE! Sorry I lost contact with you for a while… been really, really busy… 😦 Had to switch MSNs too, long story…

2. guojun - March 17, 2008

HELLO TARYN!

3. Daily SG: 18 Mar 2008 « The Singapore Daily - March 18, 2008

[…] Chase – takchek (读书): Stressed-out varsity applicant? Check. – Die neue Welle: Examination Eugenics – l’oiseau rebelle: Frankly, I don’t see the point – utopia: the disadvantaged lot: poly […]

4. New Domain » Blog Archive » Post A Levels Frenzy - March 18, 2008

[…] reading materials: link & […]

5. sb - March 18, 2008

this hits a spot.

6. The Truth - March 18, 2008

it sure does, but who’s going to care?

7. xizhen - March 22, 2008

hihi!
agree muchly..
also agree muchly with the post abt students having a responsibility only to themselves. it is a sad state of education when tchrs only have results in sight and no concern for their students. fortunately i have also seen many who genuinely believe in and love their students thru’out my schooling days. hope that things will change, perhaps you can be the catalyst for change when you’re back..
cheers, xizhen

8. guojun - March 22, 2008

hey xizhen. Don’t you know my plans? Okay i’ll tell you at the AGM…basically it requires a very big paradigm shift lah. And although this may be important in the lower levels, for a large change to come into effect, i cannot be too vocal, you know? But ohh, well. I guess my responsibility is to my students only. Everyone else can kiss my ass. haha.

Ultimately, yes, there are some teachers who are like that. Too bad they’re not in the majority.

9. SGDaily Roundup: Week 12 « The Singapore Daily - March 23, 2008

[…] failure [Recommended] – takchek (读书): Stressed-out varsity applicant? Check. – Die neue Welle: Examination Eugenics [Recommended] – l’oiseau rebelle: Frankly, I don’t see the point – The Lionheart: The Road Less […]

10. Gopal - June 15, 2008

Hello!

Where can I find some eugenics scholars and their contact details.

11. The Truth - June 19, 2008

everywhere also got. Go MOE and find can already.


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