A vision of the future.

From a message I received on Facebook:

Between You and XXX.

i HAD to tell you this.

my bro’s gonna be in pri 5 next yr, so he has an option to choose HCL. problem is, he got band 3 for his CL. after deliberation, my mom ticks the HCL box and sends the form back to his teacher, upon which his teacher calls my mom.

T: He can’t choose HCL.
M: Then why did you give me the form?
T: His CL is really bad. Doing it will pull down his other grades. Pls blanko your tick and sign next to it and return the form to me.

Apparently, the teacher also told my bro not to do it.

i do agree that it might not be a wise choice. but my bro isn’t a very bad student after all, and the choice is his! and what business does a teacher have psychoing a 10 yr old kid that he can’t make it and he shouldn’t study more?!

of course, at the back of all this is the sch’s fear of students not performing well and dragging the sch’s reputation down.

My response to XXX?

I agree with what you are saying, but I’d like to provide another perspective to this: what about your brother’s choice in what he wants to do?

Has it been considered?

I think the issues contained within this exchange I quote has been debated many times over, so there may not be a point in me going over it again. Nevertheless, I want to provide my take on this, but be prepared for a paradigm shift on your part: it involves an extrapolation of ideas where we use the resources we have at present with what we could possibly do to alleviate this situation, if we choose to be flexible about it.

A caveat, though: these views are purely my own and do not reflect those of anyone. It is not meant to create a conflict of interest, but rather, a springboard from which we can launch thoughts and/or discussions about the future.

My vision for the future is a Singapore in which students choose what they want to study, and when they want to do it, without having to be hindered by perceived constraints of time and space.

For example, the advent of technology means that students do not need to be confined within the physical space of a classroom any longer – the Internet and its spillover tools have taken care of that e.g. podcasting, vodcasting, etc.

This means making a massive shift from teaching to learning, where students choose what they want to learn from education providers. Teachers will not be consigned to the physical classroom as in the past, but will create lessons for students from their home, the office, or home offices. Principals will no longer be in charge of schools; rather, they will truly be CEOs. St Gabriel’s, Inc., anyone?

The implications of this:

  • Students will create demand for education providers, while education providers create the supply through providing lessons. This effectively means that education becomes a private good that works on market principles, so ‘bad’ teachers become a thing of the past; market forces will determine that they get pushed out of the market.
  • Education will become significantly more expensive. But remember that the market for tutoring services in Singapore has become so large that it seems we are already heading in the direction I speak of. Formal education in schools has been relegated to be just that – a formality.
  • This will result in only the ‘rich’ benefiting from this change because of their ability to pay for a good that they demand. But this is where the government must step in to provide subsidies in order that the less well-off also have a chance to receive education.
  • Students will have a bigger basket to choose from e.g. Norlinah can study Biology from Victoria Inc., Hockey Studies from St Theresa’s dot Com and English for Blogging from Bovinesauria dot SG because she knows these providers to be the best of the lot and she is willing to pay for them. Best of all, she doesn’t have to be constrained by what XXX Secondary School wants her to do, because she is the true owner of her own learning.
  • Therefore, the only targets that CEOs and Education Providers have to keep up with are those that market forces determine that they have to meet. This will effectively eradicate the current predicament we now find ourselves in, where schools are concerned about ‘reputation’ and practise the rather inhumane approach of disallowing students from doing what they want, and only allowing them to do what the organisation ‘perceives’ they will be better at doing.

Of course, this comes with its own set of problems – what will comes out of this i.e. a certificate? Who will police educators to ensure that they aren’t cheating students of their cash?

But given the standards of innovation, entrepreneurship and drive that our government and society possess nowadays, I am sure our people will be able to come up with a solution to break this impasse that education in Singapore is now at.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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