Schools making progress in nurturing creativity

The Ministry of Education has taken steps to further promote creative writing in primary schools ("Skill sets of all kinds needed for nation's success" by Mr Zee Kok Eng; last Thursday).

In the past, the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) composition paper involved writing a story on either a given picture or a given situation, for instance, "Peter was walking home after school when he heard screams".

Pupils were required to choose one of two questions. The scope for imaginative writing was admittedly quite limited.

Schools could consider encouraging aspiring writers to write freely during the holidays and submit their creative writing efforts in the new term.

I understand that this year marks the start of a new format where pupils will be given a theme to write on.

They will be given three pictures offering three different angles of interpretation to guide them in their writing, and they can choose to write a story based on one, two or all three of the pictures.

This gives more scope for creativity than before, and it shows we have made progress.

It may be some years before we know whether we can produce the likes of J. K. Rowling. But not every child can reach such heights.

Every child has his own unique innate abilities and limitations.

A national examination like the PSLE is pitched at a level that is fair to pupils of varying abilities.

For the brightest pupils, writing a story on a given theme without guiding pictures may be stimulating, challenging and even enjoyable, but it may also end up demoralising the weaker ones.

Therefore, a compromise is needed.

Also, standard marking rubrics are provided during PSLE marking for fairness.

So, teachers are understandably expected to prepare pupils adequately for this major examination, though they may personally feel inclined towards giving pupils free rein in their writing.

However, schools could consider encouraging aspiring writers to write freely during the holidays and submit their creative writing efforts in the new term.

They could also consider setting up a writing club as part of co-curricular activities.

Low Siew Hua (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Schools making progress in nurturing creativity'. Print Edition | Subscribe