Focus more on project work to foster innovation

It is clear that after 50 years of an examination-oriented school system, we are hugely successful in producing students who are able to learn and regurgitate knowledge from books.

However, to survive in this evolving world of constant disruption, the need to take risks and think out of the box is critical.

Hence, I agree wholeheartedly with Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng that imagination, inquisitiveness and interconnections are important elements that schools must inculcate in our students (Schools 'can foster innovation in students'; Dec 29).

But to break the ironclad mode of system-induced thinking and mindset, we need more than a weekly dose of innovative exploration.

In short, we must be prepared to slaughter the sacred cow to produce a paradigm shift if we wish to see any effective change.

We must change our exam-oriented school system to a system that is based on project work.

Students should be constantly assessed on their innovation and creative skills in projects throughout the year instead of being judged solely on an exam.

Weekly exploration is unlikely to produce any visible change in deeply ingrained thinking and habits if the old system still looms large in our collective psyche.

We must be ready to bite the bullet and embrace this major disruption to our educational system if we wish to see any real changes in thinking for students, teachers and parents.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2017, with the headline 'Focus more on project work to foster innovation'. Print Edition | Subscribe