Forum: Goal of successful education is to let learners reach or exceed their potential

As the world around it changes, Singapore's education system will need to recalibrate itself and keep step with those changes to avoid becoming irrelevant.

Still, the acquiring of more practical life (or applied) skills should not come at the expense of Singapore's hard-earned reputation in academic excellence.

The two are not mutually exclusive; having more of one need not necessarily mean having to have less of the other.

Instead, the more intellectual knowledge one is empowered with, the more the scope for real world application. At the heart of the issue is how intellect can be harnessed for the good of the community, society and world that we live in.

Here are some pointers as to how this desired outcome can be achieved:

• Encourage perspective-taking.

When one takes on the perspective of "another", be it his audience, environment or even a counterparty, he is making himself relevant to the context he is addressing.

This habit will constantly remind students to come out of the cocoon of textbook or desktop learning into the real world - where the value is in applying rather than reproducing knowledge.

This is a mindset shift that is a necessary first step to imprint in young minds the need to be relevant to the world they are living in today.

• Make knowledge relevant. Regularly training one's mind to look out for imperfections, be it in a product or service, and applying the knowledge one acquires in the classroom to fill the gaps identified is one way of making knowledge relevant in daily life.

Thinking out of the box with creative solutions is where real learning takes place.

• Teach students to integrate what they have learnt in English, mathematics and the sciences to address an issue, such as how to overcome the effects of climate change.

Because the issue is multi-faceted, the scope for learning is immense and carries a sense of realism.

By pitching their case through written proposals and poster presentations, students would have to employ their language skills, as well as articulate their convictions through their communication skills.

The end game of a successful education is really to empower the learners to reach, or even exceed, their potential. The upside to this can be attained only through passion and a sense of fulfilment, allowing success to build on success.

Christopher Ng

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