Friday, October 14, 2005

Of Labels and Branding; No more Rhodes for Singaporeans

I think Singaporeans in general define (label?) themselves into several broad categories - educational background, familial wealth, and probably the jobs they held/hold. For the guys, there might also be the NS part - OCS, SISPEC etc.

Check out the reflections from Oikono and PJ.

*In case you don't know, PJ made headline news recently for swimming across the English Channel. He's also a Rhodes scholar.

In Singapore, students are relentless tracked and streamed from a young age, with the criteria almost
being entirely academic results. This results in the system being 'gamed' by students who cram relentlessly for exams, and teach themselves how to pass their exams well by studying lots and lots of past papers and the like. Perhaps this
is fairer, but it also has produced generations of Singaporeans who have tremendous capabilities to memorise information, but limited capacities to interpret and process the information, much less innovate, and thus do not have the skills to succeed in life (which is not measured by exams). Worse, it has marginalised all those who are tremendously talented in other areas but are unable to do as well in terms of academic results. I would immodestly suggest myself as an example (as you did), in that my academic results were decent but my talents lay in other areas. Anecdotally, my classmates who have been the most
successful in life were not necessarily those who did well academically. What I will always be grateful to Harvard for is recognising my potential and giving me a chance to really excel in life, because the Singapore system didn't give me
that chance. - PJ



Good to read: The social logic of Ivy League admissions. Not just the Ivies, but the rest of the selective US private institutions do too. MIT's, if you are interested.

UChicagoTShirt

Edit - It seems that Singaporeans will not be eligible for the Rhodes Scholarship effective 2006. I wonder why. Wang Jin (2005) is thus the last Singaporean to be conferred the honor. Joscelin Yeo was the 2004 winner.

1 comment:

wah said...

how heartening for somebody like me who is trying to convince myself that my grades on paper do not define and limit my potential. maybe i'll make it soon enough :)