A Brief Rethink of Education (Part 2: One Size Fits all?) - John Tan

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A Brief Rethink of Education (Part 2: One Size Fits all?)

A standardised education system is most common than not for many children nowadays. As pupils, we are taught the same subjects through similar forms of teaching, with no regards to the unique passions and interests which individuals possess. It gets even worse when it comes to testing and examinations; standardised testing is a method based on convenience and practicality, where the “intelligence” of pupils is tested. For those who succeed through the norm of these examinations, they absorb the credit and praise which their teachers and educational institutions reward them with. For pupils who don’t necessarily excel through this conventional form of testing, they are deemed to lack “intelligence” and are made to feel somewhat less superior. This is wrong and unjust; even though teachers may, as a result of their so-labeled poor performance, give more attention towards these pupils with the sole intent to help them, it still does not explain why we still push this notion that conventional examinations are the best way to measure intelligence.

Standardised exams fail to consider indicators which cannot be measured – passion, creativity, and curiosity, to name a few. It is far easier to use a computer to mark thousands of multiple-choice test papers than to give feedback to each pupil, although the latter yields far greater value for the pupils themselves - the individuals who we teach and want to improve as people. Sounds familiar? Similar to an assembly line? Standardised exams are by their nature prone to pupils who attempt to beat the system, developing techniques to pass the “exam game” rather than learning to understand the content put forward to them.

We must look to broadening the way we examine pupils in order to reach out to the untapped potential of young minds. No one pupil is great at everything, but every pupil is great at something. Understanding what pupils are passionate about or love doing, can help policymakers better implement methods to rightfully examine pupils. It is by no means lesser to test an individual’s creativity through problem-solving than to test an individual’s ability to memorise. We must shrug off this belief that giving out conventional exams is the only way to test an individual’s capabilities – to shrug of this rule that pupils have to conform to the dogmas created by a system which fails to comprehend the human nature of learning and expanding ones’ skills.

Alternatively, instead of having these conventional examinations which aim to standardise pupils, we could have pupils and students work on solving world problems. Not only does this approach allow pupils to closer understand the complexities but also the beauty of the “real world”, but as individuals, we want to work on things which are meaningful and do matter in the end. Working on solutions which help move society forward by eliminating inequalities which exist or the ability to appreciate the diversity of thought which will inevitably emerge from pupils collectively working together. This can be done by allowing pupils to learn the skills gained from subjects through the humanities, arts, and sciences, and allowing time for pupils to reflect upon which skills are needed to tackle world problems. In most occasions, the naivety of younger people can help to challenge the assumptions and norms which persist in the world today – without these new minds and fresh perspectives, will we continue to use the same way of thinking which has manifested into the many problems we see in today’s society.

“I think you also have to and talk to people who are not at college levels; you have to talk to high school kids and grade school kids.” – Rainer Weiss

John Tan

Move education forward. Move the world forward. And get closer to the truth. Excited by the intersect of psychology, design, tech and education.


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