Teach children what is relevant to the future

Mr Bobby Jayaraman has sounded the alarm on what is ailing our education system ("Let's kill the drill approach in schools"; Feb 17).

I hope our Ministry of Education will take a hard look at our schools and the direction our children are heading in.

The word "heuristic" is derived from a Greek word which means "I discover", and "heuristic method" refers to a method that enables a person to discover something for himself.

Unfortunately, the method used in schools has been transformed into a method of solving a maths problem without much understanding.

Children learn the "model drawing" method in primary school, and when they reach Secondary 1, they have to learn a new method - algebra. We have unwittingly put the cart before the horse.

It is easier for children to learn when they are given a rationale that makes sense to them.

Parents must have reasonable expectations of their children, as not every child is born to be an Einstein.

Abstract grammar and vocabulary may help our children to pass exams, but rote learning will not spur them to discover the beauty of a language.

Our children must learn what is relevant to the future economy of Singapore and the world at large.

Scientists can now hook the brain to a computer and begin to decode some of our thoughts.

This might eventually revolutionise communication and even entertainment.

The movies of the future will be able to convey emotions and feelings, and not just images on a screen.

Dr Ray Kurzweil, a computer scientist, predicted that by 2025, 3-D printers will print clothing at very low cost.

The World Health Organisation predicts that chronic diseases will account for 75 per cent of all deaths by 2020, so the evolution of mobile diagnostics and personal monitoring is set to transform the treatment of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The quest for knowledge is endless.

If our children can learn to be lifelong learners, they will stand a chance of surviving into the future, as the advancement of science and technology is relentless.

Heng Cho Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Teach children what is relevant to the future'. Print Edition | Subscribe