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A Singaporean’s Concern

Recently, our brother Dr. Thomas Lee wrote a letter to the Forum in Straits Times. He was responding to the issue of grades in our education system. In his reckoning we should focus on effective learning not on examination grades. Grades don’t necessary indicate that an individual is an effective learner.

"We have erroneously assumed that what was true in a bygone era, where colonial education was geared to feed the civil service, is still valid for a diverse economy today.

We also mistakenly think that exam scores indicate one's capacity to learn.

But we see very few people go on to excel in areas that they excelled in when they were in school.

Rather, those who succeed are those who have learnt how to learn.

According to American educator Malcolm Knowles, there are several characteristics of effective learning:

  • Self-direction and autonomy. The student is actively involved in the learning process, and makes choices relevant to his learning interest and objectives.

  • Use of knowledge and life experiences. Teachers positively encourage learners to connect their past learning and experiences with current knowledge and activities, forming a more complete picture or understanding of their learning experiences.

  • Being goal-directed. Motivation is enhanced when there is a clear goal or purpose for learning.

  • Relevance to life. This enhances motivation to learn.

  • Applicable and useful. Theories become meaningful when applied to real problems.

  • Encouraging collaboration. Learning is not an isolated activity but pervasive through interactions and collaborations with others. Teaching one another becomes a great and fun way to learn, because students learn to respect one another's strengths and weaknesses.

We should emphasise and develop these characteristics in our students as we attempt to restructure the education of the young and the re-education of the not-so-young."

- Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

I believe we should heed these words. As we send men and women into an uncertain future and we embark on faith ventures. We need men and women who are capable of learning on the go in socio-political and culturally ambiguous situations. There will be no text book answers. He must learn to read the text from people.

To people interaction and as situation arises. There will be lot’s of dubious moments, but faith will find the way of wisdom.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously…” James 1.5

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