Educating the Heart

I'm in a bad position to compare the education systems between Singapore and Australia. I have never been schooled in Australia at any level before. The education system in Singapore must have evolved significantly since my school days decades ago. My young daughter hasn't gone to school yet. I don't have the facts and figures but if I may use life in general as a comparison, do we want to base a successful life on how many properties we acquired, how much food we consumed or how many women we bedded? How then, will we want to use statistics to judge a successful education?

I know there are school of thoughts on the radical ends on this. Parents may even tell me I will turn out the same when it is my turn to send my daughter to school. After all, all parents want their children to do well in life. So sending them to the best possible school the family can afford is the duty of the parents. This kind of mentality is not unique to Singaporeans. In Perth, I can see many parents of different nationalities taking pains to move to an, in my opinion, unaffordable suburb within the 'catchment' area of a reputable school. These will be the kind of school in Singapore that display banners to announce to the public how many gold awards their previous batch of students achieved or what was the highest PSLE score. 

That kind of practice always befuddled me. Why are schools advertising to make themselves appear more attractive? Are education staff in more popular schools paid more than staff of less popular schools? I thought teachers were paid on the same structure under the MOE system. Then, why would a school chose to advertise inflate their cohort beyond their means? So what if a school fills below their vacancies? Retrench teachers or close down the school? Should public education be ran like businesses, akin the growth-at-all-cost national mantra that has seeped into sectors such as transport and healthcare in awry. Is it right that a school should act like a service provider and the parents, their customers? If the success of a school (and therefore the careers of their teaching staff ) is based on meaningless KPIs, what education will the young really receive under such a paradigm?

Regrettably, this is yet another case of willing buyer, willing seller. If parents do no condone such a system, it simply cannot exist. It is natural that parents want their children to be relevant to society so that they can find means to support themselves and give themselves a comfortable life. No parents want their children to suffer yet ironically parents subject their children to endless suffering with their obsession with grades, knowing very well in the working world, the most capable worker gets ahead and only the fittest survive. Grades have little to do with surviving in the wild corporate jungle unless of course, parents designed their offspring to wear white.

So it's not about grades but the kind of people you are getting your children to mix around with? Mix with the rich kids, so maybe they can grow up and share some lobangs with them, since kawan kawan mah. That's the stupidest thing I ever heard from parents. Parents with such mentality will stop their kids from mixing with the 'bad poor kids' in the neighbourhood, oblivious that the parents of the kids they tried to hook their children up are advocating their kids to do the same. All you can achieve by subjecting your kids to this shit is to drive up their sense of lack and inferior complex. Many of these rich kids have the world under their feet and their lives will be neatly paved for them. Your children, however, lost the chance to learn to be resourceful or sharpen up their survival skills by mixing with this lot.

The above is my personal opinion. I share this not to convince. Neither do I appreciate any persuasion to change my mind. Before I end, I will like to share a post written by a school principal in Perth. Throughout my education in Singapore, I have never come across any school principals who inspired me in similar fashion. I wish I had such a school principal. Trust me, your children will wish the same.


  1. Things have changed. No longer living in the kampong although Perth is pretty "ulu" as compared to other developed city. Education system here is pretty relax, you do not need to worry, no stress because there will be no homework, all they do is learn through play. But one thing, a lot of secondary students could not catch up the syllabus in the University because they have been playing too much. The Uni standard is much higher than Year 12 which make it hard entering into tertiary study.
    In the end, a lot of dropouts but the good thing is they still can survive in blue-collar industries over here unlike Singapore. And they earn big bucks too. This is the good thing about Australia. So no need to stress too much la...

  2. Kids should be given a chance to develop what they are good at - maths, science, football, tennis etc. Not all kids are good at study. Giving them a happy life is more important than a successful but unhappy one.