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Thread: Is something wrong with our education system?

  1. #41
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    education from our schools are just a basic foundation, the real education is from the working world...

    just like a PnS compare to a DSLR.
    Last edited by raincool2005; 21st February 2008 at 01:57 PM.

  2. #42

    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    having been in NUS for 4 years, i disagree with the ''content bias'' saying. undergraduate assessments here are definitely more than just content.
    sure, there is some assesment beyond content, but a good deal of it is on content... think this is the case in certain faculties more than in others... and maybe like I mentioned its possibly more the attitudes of the students (at least those I have seen) than the lecturers...
    Last edited by theRBK; 21st February 2008 at 02:23 PM.

  3. #43

    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    Hey david,

    I have EXACTLY the same type of queries as you have posted here. Are you a math or science student/grad? I think those who are in such fields will appreciate it best.

    It's funny. We always hear singapore is way ahead of our US counterparts in terms of math and also perhaps science. At college level (like our A levels), the US guys are still learning trigonometry which are already taught in our schools at sec 1 or 2. For us, at Sec 3, we are already into the cheem stuffs like differentiation and integration, or formally known as calculus. For Calculus, this word alone strikes fears in the US students! Strictly only if you are really into science then you will usually learn it at uni level in the US.

    But like you, what puzzles me is that by the 2nd or 3rd year, the US students are picking up really advance stuffs in calculus and all that. While our common students here are struggling with the subject despite given the few years of headstart in the subject.

    I can only come up with my own theory:

    Although we learn calculus and all that at an earlier level, there is a repetition of it at the local uni level here. That's clearly a waste of time. I find that uni dons here don't really know much about what is happening in our O and A levels. In fact, many of them graduated from the US and use US published textbooks. So this gives the guys in the US unis to catch up with us, while we cover pretty much the same thing.

    As for the brighter A level students here, they will usually get to do higher level stuffs in their first yr at the local unis. Or they make skip certain modules which are deemed easy for them. So this group of people won't feel the "waste time" factor so much.

    Also, US unis tend to teach critical thinking better than our local unis. Where they dismantle stuffs to really learn what goes on, our students here are more concerned with wanting to know which chapters to study for the exam so that they can "concentrate" only on the relevant subjects. To score As if possible of course. But there's very little meaning or value in such a way of learning.

    US education is more broad based also. They get to study a foreign language, math, literature, science, etc at high school and college level and only specialize much later. This gives them time to think about what they really want. They are also free to change speciality any time without much problem.

    Here, it's crazy. You get streamed even in pri school! At sec level, you already must decide what you want to become. At such an age, how will you know? So it might end up that you will study something you do not naturally excel later at uni level. Just to get a cert? This fact is undisputable. I've heard and have friends and myself am living proof. How often have you heard students here taking up 2nd or 3rd degrees? It's so common. It's not only waste of time but money.

    By comparison, those students in the US when they study science or whatever subject, they really are interested in it and their lecturers are very motivating (sadly, 80% of mine in a local uni here weren't!) This can push them far and pick up things better.

    Well, I could share more but that's it for now. See if you agree or disagree or have more things to add on...
    That's a sharp comment which I totally agree with. In fact not only American universities, the universities in Eastern Europe are picking up more aggressively. In 2003, I patented a little invention on face recognition in England before returning to Singapore, thinking nothing more of it. About a month later, a professor from a Bulgarian university wrote to me, and in his letter, he expressed his overwhelmed interest in hiring me to teach and research in his department (contract - 10 years). What shocked me was that he actually wanted me to teach what I have invented as a course to the students! From this you can see how much they are willing to spend and learn. They don't want people to teach the basic stuff anymore. They directly ask you to teach your own invention, your specialty. That way, they progress even faster! Of course I didn't want to go because I don't want to wander around the world any more. So I turned him down kindly, and upon his request, I released the detailed version of my invention to him in a CD. He immediately offered the course that summer to his students.

    My only worry is: yes, Singapore has hired world-renowned experts (and a lot), but do Singaporeans have the kind of 'ON' spirit to learn, go deep and develop their technologies?

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by leejay View Post
    My only worry is: yes, Singapore has hired world-renowned experts (and a lot), but do Singaporeans have the kind of 'ON' spirit to learn, go deep and develop their technologies?
    not if one can't take criticisms and only surround oneself with yes-men

  5. #45

    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Chin View Post
    Singapore has always been proud of the achievement by students excelling in maths and sciences in many international competitions and its education system is said to be envied by many other countries. On the other hand, students in USA have always fared poorly but once it reaches tertiary level, USA does so much better and it is an undisputed fact that most of the top universities in the world are in USA. If Singapore has been able to produce students with very good results going into our universities, why are we lagging so far behind compared to the American universities.

    I don't have an answer to this but it is clear something is wrong with our system that is over emphasizing the importance of academic results. I know of someone whose kids had average results but he had the money to send them to good high schools in USA and they are now studying at Harvard and MIT. Perhaps, our system is good up to ''O" level but wonder how many of our "A" students actually qualify for places in top American universities. In my opinion, it is about time our Education Ministry should do some soul-searching to revamp our system but for a start, it must find out what makes American universities tick when its schooling system prior to that level can't even compete at international level.
    The MAIN FALLACY in your arguement is .....

    The best singaporean students don't go to NTU/NUS, they go to MIT/Stanford/etc. Similarly the top students in Mit/Standford are not necessarily from USA.

    My year the best student (product of our local education system) went to princeton and became not only the top student for that year, but supposedly the top student EVER for that course. Or so I hear. Bottomline is he did VERY VERY VERY well in princeton.

    Princeton/MIT top students many from overseas lah, not from USA.
    Last edited by wind30; 21st February 2008 at 02:58 PM.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    not if one can't take criticisms and only surround oneself with yes-men
    sugar-coated n sweet praises of nothing doesn't help too.
    You'll Never Walk Alone! - i have the best job in the world!

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesecake View Post
    sugar-coated n sweet praises of nothing doesn't help too.
    is tertiary lecturers paid to offer valuable advice or just tell students nice work and get on with life?

    if its the latter, then so sad liao... forever in self deluded fantasy world...
    Logging Off. "You have 2,631 messages stored, of a total 400 allowed." don't PM me.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    is tertiary lecturers paid to offer valuable advice or just tell students nice work and get on with life?

    if its the latter, then so sad liao... forever in self deluded fantasy world...
    some tutors in my faculty when i was in NUS were paid to tear up students' works and throw them into the trashbin

  9. #49

    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    is tertiary lecturers paid to offer valuable advice or just tell students nice work and get on with life?

    if its the latter, then so sad liao... forever in self deluded fantasy world...
    the lecturers I know do give good advice... its sometimes a matter of whether people bother to approach them for advice... of course there are probably some bochap (can't be bothered ones) ones out there as well...

  10. #50

    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    some tutors in my faculty when i was in NUS were paid to tear up students' works and throw them into the trashbin
    that's a life changing experience

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    some tutors in my faculty when i was in NUS were paid to tear up students' works and throw them into the trashbin
    shiok... i in a pretty bad dilemma now...

    in secondary, my teacher practically hate my D&T drawing to the point she just see and tear also... and the fact that my drawing seem so nice as a piece of art... with shadow details and shades. she beh tahan... (think she got hidden agenda to give me 0 points all the way so that her pet student can score...)

    then now i go take week end class, every weekend can hear my lecturer so happy see my drawing that when another lecturer pass by, he can sing praise...

    fact is...

    My work is beautiful no matter what they say
    Words can't bring me down
    My work is beautiful in every single way
    Yes, words can't bring me down
    So don't you bring me down today


    but then again, doesn't work for many... and some beh tahan, say go, then dun wanna come back, yet come back... must be another beautiful guy...
    Logging Off. "You have 2,631 messages stored, of a total 400 allowed." don't PM me.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    the lecturers I know do give good advice... its sometimes a matter of whether people bother to approach them for advice... of course there are probably some bochap (can't be bothered ones) ones out there as well...
    most of the lecturers i know in NUS are quite passionate about their fields of specialisation, the few cmi ones usually don't stay long, since lecturers are appraised by students every year as well

  13. #53
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by theRBK View Post
    that's a life changing experience
    not sure about now, but my faculty probably had the highest dropout rate in NUS as well

  14. #54

    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by hongsien View Post
    The older technicians though were quite good at finding practical solutions, makes you wonder if in the old days education here was better :-)
    Wouldn't this be a case of experience that helps the 'older' technicians find out the practical solutions rather than a failure of the education system?

    I think the Singapore system is the way it is today because it decades ago it needed to create such a situation where as many qualified people as possible were churned out quickly to drive the economy. So, maybe the concept of education beyond the classroom was lost along the way and in the end, only your certs mattered.

    One thing about the local education system here is also that you are mainly judged by your grades and little of everything else. (I say mainly here, there are a few who get admitted into the local Uni using their achievements outside the classroom, but seriously, there are few and far between).

    So it doesn't matter where your interest lies in, the best students go for the best courses regardless of their interest. So you end up with a situation of best courses filled with top brains, who might not be necessarily interested in what they do. And less popular courses filled with those of 'lesser' ability who might not be necessarily interested in what they do.

    I think MOE has, in recent years, tried to change the mindset of the students gearing towards the more 'creative' approach. But whether they can change the mindset of parents is another thing altogether.

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by psyk1 View Post
    Wouldn't this be a case of experience that helps the 'older' technicians find out the practical solutions rather than a failure of the education system?
    Partly, but also the willingness to think of a solution. For many, they just sit there and don't want to find out why it didn't work......mind you, I found those from the Polytechnics more willing to learn, and they also stay late at work without question! :-)

    And for many of the local Uni stidents who came to us, we needed to explain the basics again (which we expected them to already know), perhaps they just cram cram for the exams and then forget about it :-(

    These are the basics that one should remember.......

    HS

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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    You're the researcher, right?
    "a" researcher, not "the" researcher, whatever the latter may mean.

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    education ? hmm... the big bosses in IT world did not have a IT degree

  18. #58
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    Although we learn calculus and all that at an earlier level, there is a repetition of it at the local uni level here. That's clearly a waste of time.
    I don't think so. Learning and understanding relies on some degree of repetition. E.g., when you get introduced to addition and subtraction in primary school, you start with integers. You extend that knowledge later to fractions, real numbers, complex numbers, vectors, matrices, etc. Learning is like climbing up a helical staircase - you see the same things many times, but you see them from a higher level every time (recognizing more abstract concepts), and you can see a bit further every time (your horizon widens).

    Also, in a country with a conscription army, many beginning students will have undergone military service. The military's emphasis on strict obedience and mindless rah-rah-rah patriotism (where thinking is an almost subversive thing to do) usually results in dumbing down quite a bit. (No insult, I went through military service myself.) Furthermore, there are students that may have come through another path to university (poly graduates, older students, foreign students). You need some repetition to catch up again and bring everyone to a common level before embarking on more advanced topics. By the way, different US states (and within states, different schools) have vastly different standards, yet their students also meet as freshmen in the same universities.

    Also, US unis tend to teach critical thinking better than our local unis. Where they dismantle stuffs to really learn what goes on, our students here are more concerned with wanting to know which chapters to study for the exam so that they can "concentrate" only on the relevant subjects.
    This is not a specific problem of the universities, but the general local culture. Singapore is not exactly known for independent thinking and free expression, but more for suppressing non-conforming views and regurgitating the buzzword of the day issued by "authorities". Also, education is not so much seen as an avenue to broaden and deepen knowledge and seek understanding, but to obtain certificates that "entitle" someone (in the style of Chinese imperial exams) to a privileged position in society.

    This has also led to certificate/degree inflation. Why would one need a university degree for most generic office jobs? Or an engineering degree just to peddle equipment to companies as a "sales engineer"? Wouldn't a polytechnic course be more than enough for that? Conversely, what is the quality of a university course that has to cater to a large number of students who will go into office and sales jobs? You cannot automatically assume anymore that someone who made it through university is a suitable for academic or intellectual tasks, you have to search for the few pearls in an ocean of mediocrity. (This problem is also prevalent in the US; I've seen a documentary video of freshly baked MIT engineering graduates who couldn't for the life of it made a light bulb glow when given a bulb, a battery, and some wire.)

    To score As if possible of course. But there's very little meaning or value in such a way of learning.
    You're right here. I've seen straight-A students from one of the "elite" JCs struggle with a simple quadratic equation, and a student from an uber-elite JC (the one that dresses like a *** convention) told me something like "yes, we did this in class, but I immediately forgot it after the exam was over". (I've also met some good and even excellent JC students who could actually find out and apply new things on their own, but again they're more the exception than the norm.)

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Chin View Post
    Is something wrong with our education system?
    What's wrong about it?

    It has produced us.

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Is something wrong with our education system?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Chin View Post
    I don't have an answer to this but it is clear something is wrong with our system that is over emphasizing the importance of academic results. I know of someone whose kids had average results but he had the money to send them to good high schools in USA and they are now studying at Harvard and MIT. Perhaps, our system is good up to ''O" level but wonder how many of our "A" students actually qualify for places in top American universities.
    Not sure if anyone has brought this up yet, but many American universities have a certain quota of students they can take from one country to fulfill their diversity requirement. Once this quote is filled for the year, you are not able to get in no matter how good your results are. It is possible to get in through the back door by studying at an American high school and applying within America as an American/internal applicant, which they save the most positions for. This is especially the case for undergradute degrees.

    As a result of the quota system, foreign students need to have a far higher SAT score compared to an American to get a place in an Ivy league university. For example, when I was applying to Universities like Stanford, the average SAT entrance score of freshmen, as listed in their prospectus was 1400. But as a Singaporean, you can forget applying if you have anything less than 1600. Even if you had 1600, there were probably 50 or 60 Singaporeans vying for 10 slots that year.

    I would like to offer a contrary opinion that my Singapore education held me in good stead during my uni days in the US and allowed me to graduate with double degree in 4 years instead of the usual single degree.

    I think the Singapore system is great. cheap and good.
    Last edited by ckuang; 21st February 2008 at 08:41 PM.

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