Create new knowledge, not ‘regurgitate’


Jace Loi Chen Min

Published: 4:01 AM, July 10, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, July 11, 2013

It was an interesting “conversation” between National Institute of Education Associate Professor Ng Pak Tee and Boston College Professor Andy Hargreaves, in the article “Singapore should not be Finland” (July 9), about Singapore and Finland’s education systems.

I felt that Prof Hargreaves was spot on in warning that our competitiveness should not “become destructive of people’s ability to circulate knowledge, develop their whole character and experience happiness”.

Our young generation must learn to be intrinsically motivated to acquire knowledge and, more importantly, create new knowledge.

Our existing education model encourages regurgitation, and the competitive culture here does not allow individuals much time for self-exploration and discovering passions, which are crucial for the creation of new knowledge.

Our competitive culture seems to also inhibit a culture of knowledge sharing, for fear of being overtaken.

Recently, I joined two online networking groups of a similar genre, one based in Canada and the other in Singapore. The local group tended to be more reserved in what they shared, and the exchange of questions was not as frequent.

Singaporeans seem to be more guarded in terms of revealing their weaknesses and sharing their experiences, in contrast to the international group, which was made up of individuals who are mainly from the West.

The latter have been freely sharing valuable information and actively giving feedback, both positive and negative comments, which allows one to improve and learn.

Whatever we do to change our education system, the focus should not be so much on preserving the supposed high value of the existing system, but on ensuring that we nurture individuals who can generate value themselves, if Singapore is to remain competitive.

Let there be more problem solvers and entrepreneurs among us.

We should cultivate a culture of sharing, and not one of plain competing. Individuals and businesses can learn to support each other to succeed together.

This is the way to propel us to the next level of growth and productivity.