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Give the young time and space to enjoy learning

Primary 3 students from Yumin Primary School work on creating a self-made book at the workshop room in Playeum.
Primary 3 students from Yumin Primary School work on creating a self-made book at the workshop room in Playeum. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

In his commentary ("Just what will we learn in the future and how?"; Nov 15), editor Warren Fernandez shared the concept of future learning that is beyond the realm of information processing.

With the example of "job-ready" fresh graduates from the Nanyang Technological University, he highlighted the benefits of work-ready technical skills.

Mindful of rapid change, he urged readers to embrace continual learning to reduce the risks of skill obsolescence. He also said that while skills and information are necessary, the future belongs to those with the underlying ability to learn and the underlying passion for knowledge.

These are timely reminders that have helped to raise questions of what, why and how we should teach our young today to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

So, how do we teach our young to develop this underlying ability and passion?

To cultivate these attributes, key factors like purpose, glory and reward are critical to motivate people to upgrade their skills continually. If these elements are strongly presented in an individual, obstacles and challenges will not be major crises.

While the focus is on continual learning for working adults, let's not forget about the young, especially those in primary school.

At that age, most children may be lacking in a strong underlying passion for knowledge. They should be given the time and space to settle down academically, and not be subjected to unnecessary pressure to accelerate learning or unrealistic expectations to excel academically.

While there are more pathways to future learning, let's make the learning journey a more pleasant and inclusive experience, regardless of academic ability.

As parents and schools celebrate the achievements in the recent Primary School Leaving Examination, let's not forget to celebrate learning diversities and efforts as well. In this way, Singapore can be more inclusive, diverse and united.

Jeremy Chew Cheng Huat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'Give the young time and space to enjoy learning YourLetters'. Print Edition | Subscribe