Is the syllabus a document that draws up a schedule of what students should learn, what teachers must teach, or one that dictates what examiners can test?
It is all, my friend, Syd Suyadi, who hopes to be an educator says, quite very some time ago. This friend of mine was once a hopeful person, extremely optimistic about his future, the future of the future generations and that of mankind. His optimism counts on 2 particular factors: 1) He believes his involvement in education in future would allow him to effect change that eliminates flaws that are currently still with the system; 2) He believes that the products of education have served the society well and would continue to serve even better with his fine-tuning of the system. He soon became disappointed and no longer motivated, though not to the state of disillusionment. It was a sad sight to see young people getting depressed this way, though it was a noble and good kind of depression.
But why? Why did he become this way? It was because of 2 particular developments in his perception of the world and naive notion of change. Firstly, he started having doubts about his ability to effect change in future and in fact, he begin suspecting that the education system doesn’t even have the capacity to accept that sort of change he was expecting to effect. These doubts, again, arise because of 2 developments in the education scene in Singapore. Firstly, we had a change in education policy that involved a concoction of lots of different programmes that are in highly experimental status – all of which proved rather disappointing from the view of the students. Second, the education system was becoming extremely elitist from my friend’s view – one of a premier institution in the country. The two developments proved that my friend’s chance of survival in the system is not very large and also that changes in the system is sometimes, rather harmful.
Secondly, Syd’s ambitions are continually undermined by his own inability to meet his own expectations in his academic career. That is not to discount his ability in possibly benefiting the system but for him, people’s perception of his abilities is tied strongly to his academic and portfolio achievements. Worst, he came to hate the type of people he first seek to nurture. Elites, he calls them, crowds out opportunities. He criticizes the system’s poor measures of ability and frequent blunders in identifying talents (including their high myopia that resulted in not identifying Syd Suyadi himself).
Shame on the Great Equalizer – for you eventually destroy those who trust you the most!