Schools must attach values to what is being taught

Mr Kwan Jin Yao suggests that children can keep their parents in check when it comes to keeping eating areas clean as students are taught to do this in schools (Kids can play important role in encouraging tray returns; Sept 11).

This suggestion will work only if the intention behind such actions in schools changes.

Currently, it appears that the intention of getting children to return their cutlery is merely to ensure that the school remains clean. Students follow these rules so as to avoid punishment.

This approach will instil in students' minds that clearing up after oneself is a chore and, naturally, such behaviour will not be replicated once students leave the school environment.

It is time that schools attached values to what is being taught to students.

Schools should start educating them on considerate and gracious behaviour. This way, students can appreciate what they are being tasked to do.

It is only when students understand the value of being considerate that we will see more caring people in our society.

We will then be able to put behind us the daily display of dirty tables at public eateries, dirty toilets and litter.

There will also be no need for us to fight the excessive use of water and plastic bags, for example, when we have eradicated inconsiderate behaviour - the root cause of these problems.

If the Singapore school system has received many accolades from around the world in academic fields, and "aces world rankings and yet is always striving to do better" (Singapore's good guide to learning; Sept 16), then surely it should be able to steer our students in the right direction and instil in them the basic values of being considerate and gracious.

After all, what is education if it is not about teaching basic values?

Ho San Cheow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'Schools must attach values to what is being taught'. Print Edition | Subscribe