Educating for Creativity and Equality: An Agenda For Transformation

The Problem

Our education system puts too much emphasis on exams and rote learning which kill creative impulses in our children. Also, these statistics paint a depressing picture of what the education system is doing to our children:

  • 20% of our children exhibit signs of anxiety and mood disorders. (The Straits Times, 2012)

  • One in three students say they sometimes think that life is not worth living because they fear exams. “That’s scary. What kind of life are we putting our kids through if they’re so frightened of examinations?” a psychiatrist said. (Far Eastern Economic Review, 2001). Children actually commit suicide because of the pressure they feel to perform.

  • The number of youths seeking psychiatric help increased by 16% from 2005, reaching 3,126 in 2010. More than half of these were primary school children. (The Sunday Times, 2010)

  • The number of children warded for “aggressive, suicidal or hallucination tendencies” at IMH jumped by 35% between 2005 to 2010. Mental health professionals attribute these problems to academic stress. (The Sunday Times, 2010)

  • Psychiatrists found that 12.5% of primary school children show signs of emotional problems including anxiety and depression. Researchers say that this might be an underestimation of the prevalence of mental health problems among children. (Singapore Medical Journal, 2007)

SDP’s Solutions

1. Remove PSLE and delay streaming

The stress of exams inflicts psychological trauma on children. It is not an intelligent approach to assess the abilities of primary-school students on a single examination.

2. Cultivate creative minds

Build confidence in children by helping them develop independent thinking, willingness to make mistakes, and perseverance in the face of failed attempts.

3. Broaden curricula, reduce syllabi

Subjects such as music appreciation, speech and drama, literature, etc. as well as periods for students to collaborate and interact to develop their creativity will be introduced to al schools. 

4. Reduce class size

The SDP will reduce class size in our schools to 20 pupils per class from the current 40 to provide students with the necessary individual attention to help them develop academically. 

5. Introduce dedicated-teacher system

One teacher will be assigned to each class from Primary 1 and follow them through Primary 3; another will take them through from Primary 4 to 6. This will allow students to bond with their teachers and give parents and teachers time to develop trust and cooperation.

6. Scrap school and class rankings

Comparing examination results and ranking students and classes detracts from the real purpose of education, which is self-improvement and self-actualisation.

7. Encourage reading

Reducing the current syllabus will free up students and allow them time to read for pleasure. A love of reading encourages life-long learning and cultivates a creative mind.

8. Convert all schools to single-session ones

School hours will be from 8 am to 4 pm during which time will be put aside for students to complete their assignments. This will allow teachers to help students with their work thereby ruling out the need for private tuition. 

Read the full paper Educating For Creativity And Equality: An Agenda For Transformation here.

Read also:

Why Do We Do This To Our Children?

Scrap PSLE, Delay Streaming And Foster Creativity

LHL On Teachers Leaving Professsion: We Knew We Had A Problem

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