S'poreans must become discontent with status quo

As we come to grips with a fast-changing world, we cannot afford to change on a linear or piecemeal basis.

We need to change the culture and the ecosystem so that our children can survive and succeed in a disruptive future ("Let students deal with setbacks on their own, says Ng Chee Meng"; Dec 30, 2016).

For a start, we need to transform ourselves to become a culture that is discontent with the status quo. This will give us the grit and resilience to improve creativity and innovation, so as to achieve better results on an ongoing basis.

However, as long as the dark side of "kiasuism" still runs in our DNA, supported by an aversion to failure and rejection, we would limit ourselves from capitalising on the opportunities in the new age.

Building an innovative culture begins at home. We need to ensure that our children are brought up to be committed, curious and courageous enough to want to create a better world.

In addition, we should prepare our people from a young age to anticipate, master and respond to technological advancements.

For example, we could incorporate fun-filled infocomm technology (ICT)-based educational programmes in homes, childcare centres and kindergartens.

This can be done by creating simple and exciting robots to help our children develop a passion for basic system designs and to enjoy coding them in an inspirational and conducive environment.

A diversity of human talents can contribute to a creative and innovative environment, and these talents may not necessarily be based in Singapore.

In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, our children may have to grow up to operate as network leaders, harnessing and managing resources of the most talented people, groups and organisations within the country and without.

They have to learn how to connect, communicate and collaborate with different talents to co-create solutions in digital spaces and in the global community.

Let us explore how we can connect our children to people from different countries and cultures so that they will learn how to develop emotional and cultural intelligences and interpersonal skills.

If the best way to predict the future is to create it, then the best way to secure our future is to train our people, including our children, to have the necessary competencies to design and develop their own destiny.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2017, with the headline 'S'poreans must become discontent with status quo'. Print Edition | Subscribe