Thursday, 24 June 2010

Few days ago, there was an article in The Star on the need for our country's education system to be reviewed.

DAP strategist Tony Pua said:

Removing examinations will make little or no difference if our education system doesn’t encourage creativity, critical thinking and innovation.

I totally agree with that. From my experience studying in Australia, I can see that the students are much more analytical. When a question in posed in class everyone would pounce on it immediately; it takes me a longer time to reach the same conclusion. Through their education, I believe that they learned that there is no right or wrong answers, and should not be afraid to speak up, which is something I'm still working on.

Citing an example, Pua said instead of asking “What year did the Portuguese conquer Malacca?”, students should instead be asked “Was it inevitable that Malacca would lose to the Portugese in 1511?”, which he said will encourage greater critical thinking among students.

It is absolutely right to say that critical thinking should be fostered. Our education systems rely on having right or wrong answers; as a result students are forced to remember a whole lot of facts. But I do remember there being more questions that fostered thinking in my History paper for the SPM. I recalled there being questions that did not require any facts; they were questions that were neither right nor wrong.

Scrapping the UPSR and PMR is, I think, a good decision. But of course, if not implemented correctly the move will not make a difference. And when I checked just a few minutes ago the poll on The Star Online on whether the two examinations should be scrapped, majority of respondents had disagreed. Of course, there may be good arguments for this, but all I can imagine is my primary school teachers who saw examinations as a measure of intelligence and success.

There was this particular deputy headmistress who, whenever any exams approached, would ask students during the assembly whether we had studied. Then she would continue to say that if we hadn't been studying it is too late. If that were true I wouldn't be where I am today. But she is who I imagine would oppose to scrapping examinations- someone who demands that extra classes are vital to help in understanding classes, and sees academic achievement as a measure of success.

I remember how I used to feel weird when my friends would say that their parents are pressuring them to start studying for exams. I rarely had anything like that. Occasionally if I really strayed I would get a reminder, but my parents had always been satisfied with whatever results I got. I was never under any pressure to perform well.

So just because someone isn't good academically, does not mean that they're not intelligent.
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