25 Mar 2012

Youth Lacking Drive?

Darn. I've blitzed through the exam blindly, and the past 3 days doesn't feel nearly enough for me to recover from the recent events. To be fair it is already one more day than the usual weekend, but still I don't feel rested enough. Maybe I'm getting more and more desensitised to breaks?

So once again I'll be pulled back into the mundane routine of school, and back on track in the quest to prepare myself for the vanquishing of the beast known as the 'A' Level examinations. But before that I might want to watch the finale of Singapore Talking, the issue being youths in Singapore today lacking drive and the reasons behind it. Pretty much what I've observed too, so I'm kinda curious. But first is the ongoing So Fake finale too, shedding light on counterfeit edible goods. Yick!

Anyway, as many teachers have warned, the year is going to shift into a higher gear in Term 2. More topics to cram into students' heads before the second common test, more competitions being held, and now the undertaking of additional steps for students to look impressive in front of interviewers. Basically the further filtering and refinement occurring along the assembly line of Singaporean students, before they get snapped up by universities and later employers. Education does seem more and more like a business rather than a critical tool in shaping a person overall.

And now I'm deviating towards another topic of interest: the recently airing First XI on TV, basically a reality show centred around soccer in Singapore. I suppose it is a new idea, and can be interesting to some types of audience. But I only find it as a way to tell locals a few things: 1) that the soccer scene in Singapore is still pretty much present and possibly even growing, and 2) it's not easy to scout for local talent.

Ooooh hang on! The Singapore Talking finale is airing now! Let's see if I can put down a few minutes of discussion here! Interesting panel of experts here... :)

So... drive = passion to serve others in what you do, but the education system may be hampering this, instead providing dead-set goals for students. Aha, even brought up the "factory line" style of education here like I said! The experts also said that perhaps the newer generations of students are being more pampered and, perhaps thus, don't put in extra effort to strive towards their goals.

The public survey: not surprisingly, the older surveyees are more cynical of the youths' extent of drive than the younger surveyees. Older surveyees: different education syllabus + less accepting of and growing avoidance of failure = less drive. Younger surveyees: youth today are actually becoming more out-of-the-box and daring, especially for young entrepreneurs, contrary to popular perception.

Continuation of discussion: perhaps the advancement of technology has made students a bit too over-expecting on fast access to anything, so maybe they become too comfortable and are less willing to take bolder risks and innovate, especially in a pressurising work environment where failure bears a much heavier cost than in a less punishing environment. Again, maybe the education system adopted in most schools here are kinda outdated, especially the current examination paper system, and unfortunately instil in students the mindset that marks are everything. (Think people who still dream of "examination-failing nightmares" as a long-term effect of such tests, even after many years!) So instead they don't work towards much longer-term achievements.

Idea: instead of sticking to an educational system that moulds people and pigeon-holes students to "appropriate positions" that would serve to help the government's goals at that time. Instead, let them awaken their own potential and allow them to have a good taste of failure, as it would be experienced in a typical work setting. Let students become more curious and provide them with more opportunities to express themselves while growing maturely.

Youths now seem more over-reliant on formulaic solutions, and less able to go with the flow, learning as we progress through situations and setbacks. I suppose that's a strong reason for the implementation of PW; it is an atypical topic that thrusts students into an open situation, letting them figure out many things on their own and dealing with obstacles to their best effort. Problem is, both students and teachers are still currently not 100% sure how. The more positive effects would probably be more obvious once the PW teachers have greatly improved, and have a clear idea on how to "mentor the students from a distance" effectively. Too bad I won't benefit as much from this now... :(

Of course the whole problem of lack of drive can't be solved entirely through education system tweaks: there also has to be proper motivation in the workplace too. One expert states the importance of a mentor-newbie relationship at the start, giving more confidence to the newbie first and later encouraging him/her to explore more possibilities in whatever they do, knowing that it's not so bad to fail in the workplace as he/she thinks. (Just as long as they take up responsibility for and learn from such mistakes, obviously!)

Another "area of attack" is through parenting methods, since parents are heavily responsible for the upbringing of the youth. Comment: more modern parents are being too pampering of their children, afraid of their sons/daughters failing. It isn't easy for parents to distance themselves safely from their own children, but the extra space for independent growth would benefit. It would be better for the child to discover their own strengths and interests, rather than conditioning them into fixed people with "popular" characteristics. The allowance of independent living could also culture better survival instincts in youth. Conversely, some other parents have, deliberately or unwillingly, conditioned children to be even more afraid of failure, e.g. excessive physical punishment, constant negative comparisons with other better-performing students, etc.

So in summary? Give youths a bigger sandbox to experiment and to fail in, via various medium types: public education, parenting, workplace mentorship, and government-youth interactions. Reward such innovative and outgoing behaviour, maybe through awards and interviews. Refrain from pressurising youths to become who society wants them to be, at the expense of giving up the chances to pursue where their real passion lies in, and hence where they would exert more drive in what they do.

Quite valid ideas in my opinion. As to how long this would be fully achieved I don't know. I'm getting quite close towards the end of my experience in the 12-year public education process, so I wouldn't benefit much now. Apart from the experimental attempt in the guise of PW that pretty much traumatised a lot of students and teachers alike.

That does NOT mean I can merely blame my horrible future, if any, solely on the flaws of the education system I went through. I can still try to encourage myself to explore more possibilities on my own. Although at this time it doesn't seem too appropriate; with so much pressure regarding excelling in the final 'A' Levels, how would I find the time and relevance in doing that?