It’s Time to Re-Invent Singapore’s Education for our Children

Reading this on Today online yesterday, made me want to run out to set up a Lemonade stand for K right outside our estate this weekend, and share tips with him on entrepreneurship.

LemonadePhoto credit of Lemonade Stand – Pinterest

My only problem :

1. Most Singaporeans don’t drink Lemonade

2. The process of applying for a food shop license from National Environment Agency (NEA) will be too much of a hassle for profits of < $20.00

3. I might get complaints from some retiree staying in the vicinity who thinks that I am exploiting my 6 year old to earn money for me

How about selling packet drinks of local favorites on a really hot day. Now, I wonder if I still need to get a food license for that?

Book Smarts vs Street Smart

Mr Tony Wagner, a Harvard Education specialist put it very aptly in this article, ‘because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know…The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me: ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’

There you have it. Most of us know how to use google search effectively, but how do you use that knowledge that you found or learnt?

Singapore children have no lack of knowledge when it comes to many things, and globally our country is a success story when it comes academic achievements. But with that vast knowledge that they have acquired in schools, how many are able to use that knowledge acquired from schools in real life?

Makes me wonder if these shortfalls in our education system have been the very reason our country has brought us to where we are today, to be so dependent on foreign talent for so many of our white-collared jobs.

Can’t find a job? Invent one.

Initiative, innovation and motivation do pay off for most who are starting their own business, however, Mr Wagner didn’t add that, everyone will need opportunities to present themselves. You can try to comb out the niches in every industry or be that blessed few to wait for it to come your way by chance. And I am certain it will help that your have tons of cash stashed away and are prepared to run losses in the first 1-2 years of the business.

How many Singaporeans are willing to take the path less trodden i.e., entrepreneurial path, and be willing to take risks and work hard for it? Making a quick buck don’t happen easily these days, unless you are planning some elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Has Singaporeans’ obsession with academic achievements blinded-sided our motivation, initiative, our critical thinking and collaboration skills? Is being comfortable-with-status quo and not-hungry-enough a problem for us?

Well last year, I needed a job. My first instinct was to look for one, simply because being an employee was perceived to be more secured, besides, a job under employment paid many times better vs a small work-at-home business. But there wasn’t any job available, so I invented one by myself.

Simply because I was at the right place, at the right time, it helped that I was hungry (i.e,. no choice) and had nothing to lose. Of course by taking chances meant that I had to make sacrifices and learn to live with less.

Why wait? Re-invent Singapore’s Education

Ministry of Education, have you read this article from Today?

Do learn from countries like Finland, which is ‘…one of the most innovative economies in the world…and it is the only country where students leave high school ‘innovation-ready. They learn concepts and creativity more than facts…all with a shorter school day, little homework and almost no testing.’

I think it’s about time that you re-invent our education system for our kids! Have a balanced curriculum where children have less rote learning and are given more opportunities to learn practical and creative life skills.

And ‘Tiger Mothers’? How many more tuition classes have you signed up for your kids this year?

I am no ‘Tiger Mother’ for sure and I am wondering if I can be successful in keeping tuition at bay for as long as possible, when K starts primary school in 2014.

As for helping him to develop his entrepreneurial skills, we are going to have to play Monopoly and open his snack shop a lot more in the coming evenings. The rules of the game? No sore losers, no cheating and the customer is always right. Learn through play first before we get to the real stuff.

Looks like we are going to be making some money very soon.

Money1 3

Here’s some useful articles on teaching your child Entrepreneurship :

10 Steps to Teaching your Kids to become Entrepreneurs

Cultivating Entrepreneur Skills in our Children

Entrepreneurship is Child’s Play

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  1. Creating opportunities, trying to find avenues to better oneself. All this boils down to attitude, and whether that person has it in them to create a better life. Self satisfaction comes from that. Some people just can’t be bothered to ‘look’ for opportunities, or find ways to expand on their talents.

    Hand them a job on a silver platter, and they ask: 1.working hours? 2.distance from home? many days of work? convenience? 5. salary… etc.

    I remember back in my days, one would be jumping for joy when the call comes for that interview, regardless of the work sector. Now they can choose not to turn up for work. A case of spoon feeding the younger generation? So yes, I agree – perhaps the ‘spirit’ should be cultivated via the education system.

    So that more can live out of their imaginations instead of out of their memories.
    Regina´s last blog post ..Tuesday’s Twenty Questions

    Rachel Reply:

    Things come too easy for the younger generation these days, and it makes me think whether I should consider denying my son more things just to build his resilience. But it’s not wise when instead of building resilience, I get a resentful kid. Guess life naturally throws you curve balls, and it is up to as as parents to use these life lessons to teach our kids motivation and initiative.

    Could have, would have, should have. Those few words should be less on people’s minds these days. But we have a ‘safe’ and ‘kiasu’ culture, how to develop innovative and creative minds? It’s time to start somewhere, starting from our education system.

  2. I really like the part where u said instinctively u looked for one, simply bcos being an employee feels more secured. i can’t tell u how much that echos with me during my struggle with deciding whether to go for a full time job or continue be a WAHM, thanks for sharing!
    Maddie´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday: Sometimes my mom asks me why I’m not a girl

    Rachel Reply:

    Maddie, I guess we are all ‘trained’ to think this way, that employment is the safest option. It is not entirely false as well, as employment does have less risk. But these days, are jobs really secure, esp in our local context and looking at how the global economy is progressing? It can be quite distressing to see how companies are filled with majority of foreign talents, rather than locals. What other jobs are left for the locals?

    But I think its time that we change our mindsets, force ourselves to be innovative and think creativity. We could be left with no choice but to innovate as time progresses. We will have to find our niches and build from there.

  3. I read. Perhaps it’s a consolation to know that Sporeans aren’t the only ones complaining about their education system. The Americans are not happy with theirs and there are Finnish who aren’t impressed by theirs either. I do agree that it’s time to move away from factory schools made for industrial economy but as to how, many are still trying to figure out. More importantly, with the right values and attitude, our kids will be able to handle whatever life throws at them.
    haifang´s last blog post ..Playing With Food

    Rachel Reply:

    It starts with the education system, but I agree with you fully that parents need to change their mindset and be more involved in imparting those soft skills that are needed

  4. Absolutely and wholeheartedly agree. Sad to say, I find myself the odd one out among my mummy friends and talking about our children’s progress has become a tricky social skill.
    Leona Wong´s last blog post ..A different point of view