Thursday, August 26, 2004

Word got around that I had studied abroad before. Was approached on this basis to respond to a JC1 project survey questionnaire. Spent a bit of time answering the questions so I thought I'd make it my entry for today.

Q: After studying abroad, why did you come back to Singapore?
A: Student visa expired before I could find a job.

Q: After pursuing an education abroad, would you migrate to that country with your family if you could afford it and had the means?
A: Possibly. Depends on which country is more able to support good family life, I suppose. If I had started a family there, I guess I would have stayed there.

Q: If you were on a bond while studying abroad, would you forfeit the bond and work abroad?
A: Probably not. Though it depends on how attractive the counter-offer was.

Q: How does the education system abroad (way of teaching) differ from Singapore?
A: In terms of teaching and learning, it doesn’t, really. Perhaps more emphasis on learning through student discussions and public presentations, though not as often as portrayed in the media.

One thing that is different is that students learn and apply academic research techniques from young so they read and write more maturely than their peers here. Students are assessed by continual assessment, with a strong weightage on classroom participation, much more than the measly 5% max we generally give to our students here.

Q: How different is the school culture in Singapore and abroad?
A: Maybe the students have a greater sense of independence because they are not so closely supervised by the authorities to the minutest detail. The authorities only set broad guidelines. The students make up their own social rules with their own peers and they obey these rules closely, rather than have very specific rules applied to them from top-down. There are pros and cons, of course.

Q: Singapore versus the country you have studied in, which country focuses more on academic achievement?
A: No difference. Education is important everywhere. However, in Singapore, students tend to pursue their studies almost exclusively, as if there aren’t any other aspects of their lives to develop. Singapore students feel guilty doing things other than their studies because of this.

Singapore society tends to belittle other achievements if academic achievement is not commensurate. All other activities that Singapore students participate in are for the purpose of “enriching” their academic achievements through schemes like PEARLS and CIP, rather than enriching themselves by their participation in these activities. As a result, Singapore students lack initiative in doing things for themselves because too many activities have been programmed for them already. After they’ve done their programmed obligations they’re just too tired, or sick, or bored to do anything else on their own.

Too much supervision, too much accountability, too much emphasis on doing things that have a foreseeable profitable outcome, too little independence – it’s not so much which country focuses more on academic achievement, it’s which country focuses too much on it?

Q: Singapore versus the country you have studied in, which is more stressful in terms of work load?
A: As long as we can prioritize our tasks, be realistic with what we can or cannot accomplish, including rest and recreation, in a 24 hour day and be consistent with our readings and assignments, student stress is quite manageable.

Unfortunately, in Singapore, we give priority to EVERYTHING. However, those things that have no obvious academic profit are things we engage in as guilty pleasures. When we rest or do something other than study, our conscience tells us we are doing something wrong even if we need to do it for our personal health and psychological well-being. Hence, we NEVER get any rest. No wonder we are such a stressed-out bunch.

Q: After those who have studied abroad and came [sic] back to Singapore, what impacts do you think [they?] will have on Singapore?
A: They will get sucked back into “the system,” or leave, or try to change things around them however they can. Hopefully, more will do the last.

***** THANK YOU *****

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