Tuesday, May 23, 2006

That BS Ad, and I don't think it's bullshit; Pointer Journal; English Language

Edit (June 4): See Mr Wang's post.

Got to see it for myself today, thanks to the link from CynicsCentral. I think NUS Business School has got some American PR company to do their ads.

Now the question becomes - does it have the money (US$ 1 billion anyone?) to propel itself into the top-tier of academic powerhouses? Will NUS students be willing to pay for an 'elite' education? Anyway, I don't think they will have a say. Be prepared to shell out more $$$!

It will probably attempt to follow what I had read about WashU and NYU:

The New York Times
Monday, Dec. 22, 2003

Secret of one college's success is aid for academic achievers

By Greg Winter

Less than 30 years ago, Washington University was so obscure that the trustees decided to stick "in St. Louis" at the end of its name, exasperated by the perennial question "So, where are you guys anyway? Seattle or D.C.?"

Today, Washington University in St. Louis has 15 times as many applicants as it enrolls. Beyond that, the former "streetcar college," as it once called itself, pierced the Top 10 circle of U.S. News & World Report rankings this year, humbling several Ivy League institutions along the way, including Brown, Cornell and Columbia.

Read more

The New York Times
March 20, 1995.

"A Decade and a Billion Dollars Put New York U. in First Rank".

By William H. Honan

Ten years ago, New York University was what collegebound students from New York regarded as a safety school, fourth or fifth on their application lists. If you didn’t get into Cornell or Brandeis or Brown University, you could always commute to N.Y.U.

But the administration, doing some long-range planning, decided that being the safety school was not good enough. So in 1984, it began a brash campaign aimed at moving the school into the nation’s top tier of universities. And according to academics around the country who have looked on with envy, the strategy worked.

Read more

Oh yeah, the market rate now is > US$1 billion:

The New York Times
May 21, 2006

With $4 Billion, Columbia Raises Fund-Drive Ante


The University of Virginia will announce a $3 billion fund-raising drive in the fall. New York University is in the middle of a $2.5 billion campaign. And officials at Columbia University say they are moving ahead with plans for the largest university campaign so far, a push to raise $4 billion over seven years.

These efforts are a sign of the fierce competition among major universities as they look to improve their rankings and images, attract students and grab star faculty members. Officials at elite institutions nationwide say that simply to keep up they must build athletic facilities and science centers, pursue research grants and donors, court big-name faculty members and stave off raids, and lay the foundation for eye-popping fund-raising campaigns.

"The whole higher education world is in a constant race," said Stephen J. Trachtenberg, president of George Washington University and a Columbia alumnus. "Money is the mother's milk of academic quality, because it pays for the people, which is to say professors and students, through salaries and scholarships, and it pays for the stuff, which is to say computers and libraries and laboratories and classrooms. Everybody needs more all the time."

Read more


The Pointer journal (and the CDF Essay Competition).

... is limited to SAF officers, Warrant Officers and DSTA personnel..."Enlistees and Specialists are (probably) too stupid to qualify". - gssq

The SAF and its rank hierarchy.

Subscription is compulsory for all active uniformed SAF Officers, Warrant Officers and Officer Cadets.

I am leaving for overseas duty/study soon. Will I continue to receive POINTER?
You will continue to receive POINTER as long as you remain on MINDEF’s payroll as deductions will continue to be made from your salary. However, in view of high overseas postage cost, you will receive the journal at your local residential address.

Then one subscribes for fuck???


The English Language
Posted on May 23rd, 2006

What has amazed me about the whole saga about Gayle Goh - the Singapore student who commented on a minister and gained overnight fame for it - is her ability with the language. I may not agree with all her views but I have to say she wields the English Language very well. Her sentences are concise - conveying her meaning well without being too complicated - and the vocabulary precise.

It is certainly a change from the students around me who struggle with expressing their thoughts in English, who cannot tell the difference between they’re and their, who cannot use the language to put across their thoughts. Which is sad because these students have thoughts and opinions too but these opinions and thoughts are all locked up in their head because they cannot find the words or sentences to express them.

Ever since I was posted to my school, I have always been intrigued by the low levels of functional literacy I see there. I wonder why they understand the individual meanings of words but are unable to comprehend when these words are put together. I wonder why they cannot understand movies. And I realised their weakness with the language has made them weak in many other subjects simple because they do not understand what they read.

I am always drawn to people who can and do write well (grammar). ANd I Dun MeAn LiKe ThIs. Oh, spelling (and thus vocabulary) matters too. That is why I find Scrabble fun. (Incidentally, it is an NT activity.)

Colombia =/= Columbia. :P


L'oiseau rebelle said...

The ad is... um... *interesting*. Thank goodness I wasn't drinking anything when I watched it (and I watched it without sound, since I'm in a cafe and I forgot my headphones).

Well I do have my theories on why *in general* Singaporeans are neither proficient at English nor at Chinese, but I doubt they're printable. In any case, you may have read my posts on languages, and it isn't too hard to deduce from there. ;-)

Actually I wasn't very conscious of grammar until I studied French. The difficulty of putting thoughts into words made me appreciate grammar a lot more. Spelling is, at least for me, more of instinct than memorization. Even in French and Italian I usually can tell if a word "sounds" wrong, even if I might not know the right spelling!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm I disagree. I think that there are many Singaporeans who have a strong command of the English language. I went to school with many of them in my 2 yrs of JC. I feel that the Chinese language suffers a worse fate.

samuraibunny said...

i actually got goosebumps watching this ad. and not in a good way.

actually from observations during my short time in jc, there are many singaporeans with a decent, albeit bland and essay-writing-style command of english ... but i notice that once people start work, it gets worserer and worserer and everyone seems to start speaking in a super cringe-worthy 华语-cool way.

also, the term for PeEpLeZ dAt TyPe LyK tHiS is "CAPStards".

smazh said...

Yes, that was an interesting ad...

Er.. I've linked to your post on it, hope you don't mind.

-ben said...

Stanford just received a US$100 million donation from billionaire alumnus, John Arrillaga, (Class of 1960).


Someone else made this assertion in another blog: NUS / NTU students generally can't wait to leave their institution of higher learning, and never look back. Alumni of colleges in the US, on the other hand, generally love their institutions. They proudly display their school logo, crest, etc. long after they have graduated.

And (adding my thoughts here), the latter is achieved without coercing students into memorizing propaganda or attending mandatory school events.

What accounts for this social phenomenon?

takchek said...

I don't really know. But I am willing to give away some of my money to both my US alma maters (undergrad and grad school) if I ever make it big in life. Heh.

Set up a chair/professorship/scholarship and my name lives on in the department. I am proud to be associated with both schools.

vivienne said...

Speaking of bad english, you should watch this little clip from Singapore idol. Some guy's pronouciation was so bad that he can't even pronounce "long long ago".


With regards to this bit by -ben:

Someone else made this assertion in another blog: NUS / NTU students generally can't wait to leave their institution of higher learning, and never look back. Alumni of colleges in the US, on the other hand, generally love their institutions. They proudly display their school logo, crest, etc. long after they have graduated.

The difference could be due to gratitude. Ie. If you feel that you are not being valued, bypassed and is treated like a commodity passing through a mass production line, would gratitude be something that you harbour?

Agagooga said...

If you get warning letters when you skip tutorials, are you going to donate in the future?

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

I studied in NTU from 1991 to 1994 and share the sentiment that those 3 years in University felt more like an extended JC tour without the school uniforms, ECAs but typified by the lecture-library-loo-lunch regime.

I guess I don't feel a strong emotional bond to NTU because I was only active in ECA during my first year in Hall 2 and thereafter it was more about getting good grades.

The faculty were competent but interactions between faculty and undergraduates were largely through tutorials and lectures. We hardly have social interactions beyond the tutor/lecturer-relationship. There was once this Korean-American tutor who say we could go have a beer with him but no one took up his offer ;-P

Looking back, I have donated only $500 to NTU Endowment Fund but really there is no real connection to ask me to contribute more to them. I guess the contact points I had with NTU were too business-like with not many moments I can think back with fondness. The main takeaway from NTU for me was my Bachelor of Accountancy degree. :-)

I had better experiences serving on a non-profit association as an extra curricular activity when I started to work, that was where I made friends in the industry and learnt leadership and management principles. More so than Organisational Behaviour 101...