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I am a Practitioner of 'The 7e Way of Leaders' where a Leader will Envision, Enable (ASK for TOP D), Empower, Execute, Energize, and Evolve grounded on ETHICS!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Daily Lessons from Life 29 December 2015 - Not enough to teach students to solve problems: Ng Chee Meng

"Not enough to teach students to solve problems: Ng Chee Meng - CNA 29 Dec 2015

SINGAPORE: To stay relevant, Singapore students need to learn to find and define problems and opportunities when these are not yet obvious, Acting Minister for Education for Schools Ng Chee Meng said.

Speaking at an appointment ceremony for principals on Tuesday (Dec 29), Mr Ng said that as advanced economies slow down in growth, Singapore "needs to transform from a value-adding paradigm to a value-creating one."

He added: "We need more innovators, inventors, path-blazers, people who can push the envelope, who can create value for society."

Singapore already has some home-grown innovators that are globally recognised, Mr Ng said, citing CEO of water solutions giant Hyflux, Olivia Lum, and co-founder of gaming hardware company Razer, Tan Min-Liang, as examples.

To do so, the Acting Minister said the education system must encourage students to bravely persist in pushing frontiers, and create an environment in schools to "give students something to believe in, to be inspired by and to contribute back to".

"(We need to) help them have the courage, like Olivia, to try, fail, try again, fail again, try again," Mr Ng said.

There are very few education systems worldwide that have been capable of developing innovators, he said, adding that some of those he raised the idea to have joked that education systems, school leaders, teachers are traditionally conservative and risk-averse: "They say, 'Minister, not the best place to help innovators blossom!'"

While he said he understood there was no straightforward method to encouraging innovation, he challenged MOE, school leaders and educators to prove the naysayers wrong.
"In true innovation tradition, there probably are many possible strategies to adopt to nurture these desired qualities in our students. But what is clear is that we, collectively, will need to work on the approaches and strategies," he said.

"Can we create a similar culture and learning environment in our schools?  A safe environment, with diversity in viewpoints? Are students encouraged to explore, give options - right or wrong, it doesn't matter - and not feel self-conscious? Do we feel safe to fail?"

Mr Ng identified a "strong Singapore heartbeat" as another area that the education system needs to strengthen.

"A strong economy and a strong SAF give us the external strength. But a strong Singapore Heartbeat gives us inner core strength – a strong fabric that holds Singapore together," he said.

This has to go beyond "head knowledge" of the nation's past, and must "touch the 'heart' and weave an inseparable attachment", he added.

He said he observed this "strong Singapore heartbeat" at the state funeral of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew earlier this year, which "bonded the nation like never before".

Mr Ng said schools should find ways to help students engage in meaningful conversations about shared values as Singaporeans.

"We are Singaporeans first and foremost; while we may have our own personal identities, we are also important members of a shared group with a shared citizenship and shared spirit as Singaporeans.""

The HEADLINE is a bit misleading. Or even misguided!

Lessons for me are:

1. IF we are just talking about creating economic values, the value-creators for a product/services/solution only need a very simple mind-set: to solve problems and challenges that will make the lives of the consumers, some of whom may not even realise their needs, easier and better, at a cheaper (or at 'premium' if the product/service/solution is unique and IP protected) price but higher quality.

Does it take a lot to 'teach' our students this? Probably NOT!

2. once our kids have that mind-set, the next to 'teach' is that: success is often 1% inspiration, 98% perspiration and with a 1% luck! In this area, the ADULTS can help to create an environment where it is safe to experiment and fail! Recognizing the EFFORTs instead of ONLY the successful results help ease the pains, anxieties and even 'shames' of failing!

Some subjects in our educational systems like arts and crafts, writing, coding, design, etc. SHOULD NOT be 'graded' since these are REALLY an EXPRESSION of thoughts and creativity!

Of course, some MUST be graded when quantitative measurements are well established and sensible. e.g. codes per million, can the machines work and produce the desired output at the specification established, can the invention sell and generate demands through 'pull' effect rather than 'push' strategies, etc.

Notes: many years ago I heard of a 'Phoenix' Award where the business people recognised 'failed businessmen and women' who raised from the ashes like a Phoenix. I don't hear of such an award anymore. Instead I see MANY 'businessperson' or 'entrepreneur' awards EVERYWHERE. WHY?

3. now we have SOME examples of National Leaders WHO FAILED at the 1st try like Acting Minister Ong Ya Kun. So maybe we can use him as a Poster Boy for now to tell people that IT IS OK to fail and the 'system' WILL STILL give you a 2nd chance! I AM DEAD SERIOUS about this.

Also, the other guy, that Medical Doctor who lost Ponggul East By-Election but made it in the GE2015 to SHOULD BE used as GOOD EXAMPLE of 'if you failed, you are still given a 2nd chance' to succeed.

May Acting Minister Ng's encouragement become reality! May the MOE, officials, educators and teachers be challenged to 'solve the problems' of turning out not just 'exam-smart kids' but 'value creating kids' while educating the kids' parents as well.

AFTERNOTEs: as for creating a 'One Singapore Spirit', we BETTER NOT rely on 'Mr Lee's passing' as it is once in a lifetime thingy! Move on... Seriously!

 

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