KRMF 2012 was earlier tonite, and while not as grand as the previous 2(MM Lee, and PM Lee), it was nevertheless an insightful experience.
1 and a half months ago, a Singaporean released the Android 4.0 operating system, for the Samsung Galaxy S. To put what he has done in perspective, he was featured on major tech blogs all over the world, and forums were talking about him.
On the contrary, almost no one in Singapore knew who had done what. Danial Makuthum, also known as Max was the boy behind this. He is a 14 year old, Normal Technical Secondary 2 student at Swiss Cottage Seconday School. He has surpassed the level of many of our computing undergraduates. But yet, he is in the Normal Technical stream.
So my question is this, what is Singapore doing for the hidden talent like him, who is simply not interested in studying the maths and science, and hence relegated to the lowest streams in education? Wouldn’t taking some time and money off procuring foreign scholars in order to seek out these hidden local talent be worthwhile?
He gave a very good reply, on how the government at the highest level is starting to realise that academia is not the only way to be good at what you do. Some people learn better by doing. And he mentioned that they are now working on starting to let the students do what they are really interested in not only at the secondary school level, but primary school level too. Not only that, he mentioned that in the best schools overseas, they get their students to create and build things, and not only mug textbooks, and that the government is working on that too. And I feel the most important point(at least imo) that he said was that technical and applied are for the bright students, not the students who cannot do academics. He did mention how they wanted to get kids to start building stuff too, and how not everyone needs to be a banker.
Now, the reply is all good. Problem is, are the teachers on the ground ready to do this? How many of the teachers we see are there simply because they cannot find better jobs outside? There is a reason why the saying
If you can’t do, teach.
is around. And recent MOE initiatives to pay for good behavior is just ridiculous. Are you going to pay for people to not commit crimes soon? There needs to be a mindset shift, and a cultural shift in the people actually executing it. The visionaries are good. That I do not deny. Tharman sounds like a very sincere and capable leader. Problem is, the people executing it are not.
Had an interesting chat with a professor of mine and his guest afterwards. Might blog about that too.