Monday, October 29, 2012

Values and character education are ready important

SINGAPORE - "What is more difficult is not language, but values. And this is not as tangible and we don't focus on it as much. But I think there we have lost something in the values and the ethos of the Chinese-medium schools. Language policies can always be refined and if we need to strengthen in one area we can always do it. But values and ethos are not so easily turned on with a switch. They evolve gradually over time and there we have lost something, that attitude to life and society that was very much part of Chinese-medium schools,"Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.
Values and character education are ready important.
Success in character education , as well as encouraging students to develop original thinking, will only be achieved if "real space" is created for them in the education system, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said.

And if these are the goals to be worked towards, it could, in his opinion, mean "reducing the excessive focus on examinations" early in life.

Speaking at a seminar yesterday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the passing of education philanthropist Tan Lark Sye, who founded the former Nanyang University in Singapore, among other schools, Mr Tharman felt there is a need to re-create values such as benevolence and a reverence for standards of conduct in schools here.

"In my opinion, it's only possible to succeed in character education and encouraging students to question and think originally if we create real space for it in the education system. And this will require reducing the excessive focus on examinations early in life," said Mr Tharman.

"We have to provide more space for character building, and for encouraging our students to think for themselves, question more, to think in more original ways. You need space and time for it. There is no other way."

Mr Tharman, who was Education Minister between 2003 and 2008, suggested looking at how students are differentiated at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) - which is by exact scores - as compared to the O levels, where secondary school students are graded by letters indicating bands of scores.

"As long as we carry on with the present system of extraordinarily fine differentiation at the PSLE and consequently, for posting to secondary schools, it is inevitable that parents and teachers and principals, whatever else they may say, will place great emphasis on preparing their students and children for the PSLE. And it will have to be at the expense of something else. So if you want to create real space early in life for children to have a broad-based upbringing, to interact outside the classroom, get to know each other across races, to develop that zest for learning, for life, something has to give. We can't keep everything else unchanged and try to add on more," said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister.

He cautioned that the right trade-off has to be found. "If we do anything, it has to be done without shaking the confidence of parents in meritocracy, confidence in the fairness of the system," said Mr Tharman.

On language, Mr Tharman said it is undeniable the standard of Chinese today has dropped, compared to what was achieved in Chinese schools in the past.

The bilingual policy, however, has given Singapore a common language between the races, he added.

The country has also gained in terms of the desire of English-speaking Chinese families today, who want their children to learn Chinese well, Mr Tharman said.
Recently many negative news about high professions, highly talented students' immoral behaviors ready make people disappointing. Is it the trend among all the professions or talented students. How about those ordinary people? Can we do something to instill somethings good to the students when they are young.  This type of good values can not wait anylonger because the whole environment internal or external bad influences are so huge that people will likely to go astray.
Let's see how Minister for education talk about the value.

As Education Minister Heng Swee Keat rolls out his vision of a values-driven education landscape, this is an opportune time for our universities to consider introducing mandatory virtues and ethics classes for undergraduates.

Over the years, our primary and secondary schools have played a significant role in laying a good moral foundation in students. However, a vacuum exists when students progress to tertiary education - the most crucial years before they enter the workforce.

Students are often engrossed in their co-curricular activities and active pursuit of academic excellence, resulting in the lack of ample time for proper reflection.

I feel it would be useful to have a dedicated ethics class where students sit down to deliberate over the real-life ethical conundrums and debate what would constitute responsible behaviour.

This should not be come in a form of top-down didactic approach but rather a journey of self-discovery.

Such a class would thus help one to reaffirm concepts of right and wrong as well as shape a ready understanding of how to react in different situations before they happen.

As the future workplace becomes increasingly complex, individuals are more likely to face moral dilemmas. An ethics class might not guarantee that individuals always make the best decisions, but the reiterative thought process would at least help them be more discerning while also providing a moral anchor that governs an individual's decision in challenging times.

A university education should prepare individuals for life. Universities should not over-focus on equipping students with knowledge and technical skills; instead they should also concentrate on achieving their broader social mission - ingraining a sound moral compass that would guide graduates for life. That should be the universities' main social responsibility.
Let's see Grace Fu's ideas.

Government policies alone are not enough to overcome social issues if Singaporeans do not have the right mindsets and values, according to the main theme of a dialogue session between Minister in Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu and Yew Tee residents today.

In discussions about raising the country's birth rate, she said that though the government could do more to encourage companies to put in place more family-friendly work policies such as flexible working hours, it was ultimately up to workers to decide what their priorities are, based on their personal values.

She also noted that monetary incentives like the marriage and parenthood package were meant to be subsidies to help families cope with the cost of living rather than a 'cash reward for having babies'.

Ms Fu said she was pleased that the national conversation was going beyond policies and incentives.

"I'm very happy that people are thinking about these issues. So I think they are aware that we have to address the fundamental issues," said Ms Fu.


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