Voices Of Youth

Lift the lid on creativity

As a student, I have one concern: How Singapore schools are portrayed as creativity killers where only "exam robots" are groomed.

I disagree with this view.

I have friends who have performed on the international stage. I have friends who teach themselves new coding languages, and friends who write poems and plays.

Surely, they are not just exam robots.  I call them " rebels" - those who defy the education system's hard claws. At the risk of contradicting myself, here is why.

Slightly more than two years ago, I composed a prose piece for what was a regular examination.

My teacher, while acknowledging the creativity, gave me a score of 32/70.

I did not know what to feel - upset that I had failed, or glad that my efforts had been recognised but not rewarded.

I understood where my teacher was coming from.

I would be taking my O-level exams, where the creativity I had sought to express could have posed problems for me.

I was disappointed, not at my teacher but at the system. My classmates can testify to how our teachers have inspired in us creativity and critical thinking.

On the other hand, the O-level exams prize template-like compositions over creative ones.

Many have criticised China's gaokao, the highly stressful university admissions exam, for its focus on rote learning.

But the essays online that claim to have scored full marks for the gaokao show that rote learning is not perpetuated.

Instead, I see creativity, flexibility and a beautiful grasp of the Chinese language.

I hope to see allowance for such creativity, for flexible choice of text types, and for genuine appreciation of language in our own exams.  

It is pertinent that our education system lifts the lid on creativity.

If we tell younger children to let their creative juices flow, I urge for the same to be encouraged in older children.

Zhuang Jie Qi, 16, Secondary 4 student

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'Lift the lid on creativity'. Print Edition | Subscribe