Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Teaching Moment

It was the classic teaching moment. Student Sun, 13, had wanted to study pure humanities subjects, but her school said it could not offer her the opportunity as it did not have enough qualified teachers. "Why are there not enough qualified teachers... when all schools are meant to be good schools?" she asked Education Minister Heng Swee Kiat.

Heng, who made it a point to teach school principals a thing or two about school girls who show up like  female versions of Kojak instead of donning wigs as promised, missed the precious moment.  Instead of educating the precocious child about the complexities of supply and demand of good educators, he taught her the art of taiji. Taiji is the Chinese art of shadow boxing. But the Singlish expression, to practise shadow boxing, means shifting the blame to someone or something else.

Avoiding her question altogether, Heng told her that a good school "cannot just be defined by an academic yardstick."  The poor girl just wanted to study the humanities, not ace the subject. To study human culture, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, and having a significant historical element, as distinguished from the cold empirical approaches of the natural sciences. Scholars working in the humanities are sometimes described as "humanists". It must be all Greek to the inhuman Minister, who's focus is probably about GDP numbers, and how many more foreigners his comrades can pack into the Little Red Dot, to achieve the "sustainable economy" proposed by the White Paper.

Heng is putting the blame on parents ("Parents' mindset key to education change: Heng"), without being upfront about the failures of the existing educational system. Like teachers who haul up parents to tell them to hire private tutors, so as not to drag down the school's academic track record. Like teachers despatched to remote corners of the Middle Kingdom, to sign up foreign students to boost the school's academic track record. And, for good measure, to dig spurs into the behinds of our own locally born and bred kids.

Fortunately, the future is not all bleak, when we have bright sparks who can see through the inhumanities inflicted upon us, and boldly speak out about the inconvenient truths. Heng may gainsay the shortcomings of his ministry, but the people, the young and not so young, refuse to be hoodwinked.


  1. No amount of rationalistion will move them. Remember, the importance is not to ask why but have faith, as the PM said the other day. Have faith in them, trust them. Why can't you dumb clucks do such a simple thing?

    1. Heng ah! At least I know how to siam.

  2. Teow chee bek.... papies

  3. Yes, last time my secondary school got only a handful of PRC students. Now there could be a few classrooms of them. Quite shameful for the school to do that. I will never donate a cent to it.

  4. miw are super whites

  5. I will only believe all schools are good schools when I see all the 80+ MPs list out where their children go to schools. Otherwise, don't just pay me lip service.

    1. Who did you voted for in the past electionS?

      Okay...... 2011 election?

    2. what is your definition of a good school ?

      ranking in terms of academic performance ?

      or is it because more CEOs, millionare ministers, generals, tycoons, etc, tend to come from such a school ?

      I cannot claim to have come from a good school but I can tell what is not good for the country...pathetic leadership, self serving policies, nepotism, cronyism, non tansparency, non accountability, insatiable greed.

  6. “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” ― Mark Twain

    1. Shit eh?

    2. THEY are often dirty?

    3. ...and they stick together like shit to a blanket or is that diaper,

    4. ...hence, Stinkapoor?

  7. I thot our ploblem is that there are too many "humanities scholars" pushing pen around all the ministries, all skooled in the finest liberal arts tradition of oxbridge keynesian pump priming? Yes keynes whose legacy on all british ecunomists (of which our promsho scholars are the by products) is the virtue of growing GDP by having men digging holes and covering them back to create jobs and GDP out of thin air?? Isnlt that what papigs are doing, blowing yet another real estate bubble before the current one is over? Create jobs yes, but for the banglas and PRCs and all the govt-linked middle men leeches.

  8. Is like the situation in UK, where debate over Private vs State School and prejudice is high.

    The State-educated Lord Adonis, once Tony Blair's education guru said that ministers need to "live and breathe" the public services that they expect the public to use. He said it was "politically bankrupt" for MPs to tinker with the school system if they were not personally invested.

    "It’s not a left or right thing. It really matters because too much of failed education policy since the war has been the result of ideological ministers who don’t use the institutions ...You cannot do these jobs well, indeed I don’t think you can do them at all in any self-respecting way, unless you live and breathe the public services that you expect the public to use.”

    So yeah, parents should make a call and ask those residing MPs which neighbourhood schools their children go/went to before they have cheeks to say every school is good school.

  9. Dear Millionaire Ministers.
    In view of haze, dengue fever, floods etc. taking you by surprise before in the past.

    What is your plan in the event of nuclear contamination from Japan's Fukushima reactors washing up on Singapore's beaches?

    West Coast of North America to Be Hit Hard by Fukushima Radiation

    1. NEA still slow and sleeping on the job, as usual.

      No public response on whether seafood are safe to consume (those imported or farmed) where water is contaminated. Common sense dictate you stop eating seafood/sushi for now. Of course official japanese is going to say they are safe for fear of export damage.

      Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who has studied radiation leakage from the Fukushima plant, said he is concerned about the lack of data on levels of strontium-90 in the waters off Fukushima. He said that the groundwater now leaking into the Pacific—including, possibly, some contamination from leaking tanks—might now have much higher levels of that particular substance. Strontium-90 has potentially greater health risks than cesium isotopes because it becomes concentrated in the bones of fish and humans, he said.----

      In short - Fukushima is far from over. The doses the public have and are being exposed to mostly take years to show in the form of cancer deaths, and for every death there are many sublethal illnesses. utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_tw20130822news-japfukus&utm_campaign=Content

    2. My plan is to find more dirt in hawker centres, especially those in Hougang and Al-Junied.

  10. In World War Two;
    The desperate Japanese leaders resorted to the kamikaze (suicide) pilots to save Japan.
    The war cry was: "Banzai"

    In 2013;
    The desperate PAPig gahmen resorted to the kamikaze (suicide) Singaporean workers to save the Singapore economy.
    The war cry by the PAPigs: Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Sometimes, PAPig leaders also used phrases like: "We are in this together" and
    "For the greater good"

  11. //Heng told her that a good school "cannot just be defined by an academic yardstick."//

    Girl should have persisted and taiji back to him and said
    "Agree we should not be a democracy of words only, but deeds. So leaving academic yardstick aside, why is my so-called "good school" unable to teach humanities as a subject? Which elite school will have that qualified teacher instead?

    1. Girl answered back Heng that a good Minister "cannot just be defined by an academic yardstick." ... despite old fart's protestations to the contrary.

    2. There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.

      Read more:

      So, it is clearly stated that the Finnish Minister is here to learn about "new technologies "& teaching methods..and those PAP IB are so quick to claim glowing credits..they certainly din't come here to learn from your academic only rankings and the missing humanistic values that our schools have failed to teach.

      A normal exchange of best practice ww becomes a glowing credential for MOE to shout from the roof..what's new.

  12. "Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for."

    “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
    --Benjamin Franklin

    "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
    -- Albert Einstein

    "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
    -- George Santayana


    According to Mark Twain:
    “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.”
    How to Watch the News

    "So when you watch the news, watch it, not to find out what’s going on, but to see which way “they” are currently leading society. Remember that what goes on the news is carefully constructed to get most people to react – just the way most people react to it. If we see something shocking on the news, we need to realize that our initial reaction is probably exactly the reaction that the story was designed to bring. We need to ask ourselves: “Why are they putting this on the news, now, in this way? What REACTION is it designed to bring? What agenda or SOLUTION do they want to bring on, based on this reaction?” Could the PROBLEM have been artificially created solely for this purpose?
    We need to realize that items make the news not because they are newsworthy or important, but because they are useful in directing society.......

    News Alternatives

    There are many websites where news is available that has not been censored, filtered or embellished by the banker controlled media to get us to react and believe - exactly the way they want us to react and believe. They shed light the real issues that the mainstream media distracts us away from with all the entertainment idols, sports heroes, political debates, reality shows and crisis news reporting...."unquote.
    (Hegelian Dialectic – The No_ 1 Tool of the Illuminati -with examples)
    (They Call it Television Programming For a Reason _ Collective-Evolution)

    Joshua Chiang

  13. Heng told her that a good school "cannot just be defined by an academic yardstick." Isn't this what you have been doing all along, grading schools by their academic results?

    “The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

    And remember this: “[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” ― Jim Henson

    And what are you? A politician first, and an educator second?

    1. This is the problem with political appointees. They "forget" what is their primary mission, to put a kind word to it. Health, Education, Law, National Development, Home Affairs etc - they often face a choice between serving their political masters, or the community. "Politics is a contest for power" ring a bell?


    The education system in singapore only benefits PAP..Al Jazeera

  15. Mr Heng should know that Singaporeans are not born yesterday.
    In fact, this is also NOT the first NATcon people have participated and wasted their time on giving feedback.
    He should go back and look at the 2002 Remaking Singapore report which was then led by his colleague Mr Vivian Bala. (pg 31)

    In it, there are many beautiful robust words about Broadening the definition of success and whole section on education ranking system.
    In the end, they are just ALL the TALK, TALK & TALK and NO Actions.

    Tell me, after 10 long years (1 decade to be precise!) what exactly have they remake, and why are we still rehashing the same topics this time in the same NATcon but different name?
    Is he just going through the exercise only or is he going to get it executed and done? For him to conveniently shift the blame on parents instead of owning up to the fact that they have failed to listen, is disingenuous.

    Once again, they have demonstrated a missed learning moment.