Don't let teaching innovation cause kids more stress

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng.
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng. PHOTO: ST FILE

Our education system is modelled on the basis of imparting knowledge, developing critical thinking and training the mind.

To incorporate innovation and risk-taking into the curriculum, as suggested by Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, if at all possible, requires rethinking and overhauling the education system ("Students 'need the space to innovate' "; Wednesday).

Entrepreneurs are born and not made. They are a breed of people with innate creative and innovative skills, an ability to see and seize business opportunities and a capacity to take risks.

Water services company Hyflux's founder, Ms Olivia Lum, and gaming company Razer's co-founder, Mr Tan Min-Liang, are products of our education system, in which innovation and risk-taking are not part of the curriculum.

In fact, many successful entrepreneurs did not even complete their formal education.

It is important to recognise this, as the current education system is already stressful for students, parents and teachers, with constant calls for the stress levels to be reduced.

When a voice of authority challenges school leaders to "give students the space to innovate and take risks", the concern is that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will start getting schools to implement innovation and risk-taking programmes, whose outcome and potential benefits are uncertain, thus causing undue additional stress for all stakeholders.

In any case, nurturing entrepreneurs should not be the responsibility of  MOE.

However, relevant government agencies, such as International Enterprise Singapore and the Economic Development Board, can extend greater support to budding entrepreneurs, so as to enhance their chances of success, and not restrict themselves to picking only the winners.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Don't let teaching innovation cause kids more stress'. Print Edition | Subscribe