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Meritocracy snippet January 17, 2013

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, education.
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‘Being an academic elite itself is not a flaw. Getting full score for studies or being at the top tier of a certain subject area would deem one an elite. Being able to enter most of the NUS courses now is considered an academic elite. However, the flaw would be the idea that elites are the only best people to lead everything. That itself is wrong. Everyone has its ups and downs. Today you may be an elite. Tomorrow you may be a scum. A fine system will be one that allows anyone who has developed the level of competence to lead in their field of expertise. That’s meritocracy.’ — Karen Fu

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January 8, 2013

Posted by @Karen_Fu in education, human quality, Singapore.
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I don’t know how to react to this because from the grounds today, we have scholars who breech contracts, teachers and principals who do hideous things. So character in this perspective is doubtful. As for scholarship, there is a trend that poor kids do get disadvantaged. Not so much that they are marginalized by the education system on its own, but other factors like the ability to hire the best tutors and tuition to get ahead in class. It really makes you wonder how teaching is done in schools. But without seeing it myself, I can’t say it for sure. Then again, based on the way students coming home for more private learning, one has to doubt. It used to be that all students, rich or poor, are based on this merit system though the problem then was it wasn’t exactly a great environment to nurture the very talented and the gifted. Today, if you were to look at prestigious places of learning, there is a far higher proportion of kids from very well off families. Those who are scooted in cars, sometimes driven by their private chauffeurs. This is, in great contrast, a main difference of what it used to be – if you were studious and very smart, you relied only on what school resources gave you. Everyone had the same resources and teachers were very dedicated though the pay then was much lower than today. As long as you worked hard, and as long as you are typically bright, top schools are at your step regardless of social status. Even when you can only afford old china made canvas shoes with old socks that probably had a tiny hole or two.

Rightways

MERITOCRACY in Singapore is about more than just academic grades, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he stressed that everyone here has a shot at success.

“When we say ‘merit’, we are not just talking about grades or scores, but also character, leadership and a broad range of talents,” said Lee said in a speech to more than 1,500 students and their parents at a bursary and Edusave award ceremony in his Teck Ghee ward.

He said: “We make sure that whatever your family background, whatever your circumstances, you may be poor, you may be from a single-parent family, you may be having some learning disabilities, but if you work hard, you can succeed.

“It does not matter what your background is. We make sure we identify you, we give you the opportunities and also the resources and the support so that if you succeed, you can do…

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My 2011 carrots for the Golden Bunny. February 5, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, faith, human quality, life challenges, New Year, terrorism.
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2011 is here. Well it is already here for over a month until the metal (Golden) rabbit pops in just 3 days ago in the Lunar New Year. Perhaps munching some carrots and looking for play, baby bunny may well bring us a brighter outlook than last year.

I have just returned home from a series of visits to different places. I think there has been a lot of changes lately — some good, and some not so good. Some catching up with relatives & a few old friends seem to open up many important issues. But I think I just want to dwell on one — human relationships.

So what is there in store for us all around the world? I came out of the Mass Rapid System just a few hours ago to realise that even the nearest station in an almost harmless place is also putting up with clusters of CCTVs (Close Circuit TVs). I couldn’t believe it when I start to count how many of these security measures have come into the neighbourhood. There are already CCTVs at crossroads and some at lifts of public housings. This is to me abnormal since I have been growing up on a tiny dot of land where there used to be given peace all around, and basically everyone used to trust almost everyone. Under that condition, you need almost no security then. Today,securty measures are installed in car parks, canteens, lifts, schools, offices, MRTs, buses etc. The only place that appears to be clear of CCTVs are the toilets. I suppose no one will want to place a CCTV in every water closet. But who knows, in time to come even such privacy may soon disappear when people start to get paranoid about how terrorists work. Till that point, I think almost all kinds of trust will be evaporated. And for that matter, terror will really take its toll.

So my first golden carrot for the bunny is to wish is that we regain trust as people. ‘No trust = no harmony’: a simple equation that all bunnies old & young should be able to understand. To add in a simple reality is that human relationships are wanning mainly because we think too much in the wrong direction. Almost every crazy day, we read about fights. Doesn’t matter what kind and nature of fights they are, it is often stemmed out of jealousy & over emphasis of self interests. Technological advances may solve certain problems to a point, but ultimately its we ourselves who decide if we are willing to let go and forget, simplify and move on. It is often the various self-interests that blind our minds to progress. And it is also the very fact that people tend to run on double-edged swords that cut not only themselves but others too. Divorces are common not only in the west but also in the east where marriage is no longer that lasting as it used to be. ‘Till dealth do us part’ does not ring an eternal bell. It ironically happens in times when people are living better in comfort.

While I envy those who marry, have kids and a family; I do get alarmed by the reality of how many of these marriages actually work. It often makes you wonder what this world is getting to be like the flickery climate — where you don’t know when the floods or draughts would come in. The most comfortable climate is one that bears warmth, sunshine with some drizzles of snow and free breezes of wind. Not thunders or storms that wreck havoc. Family ties are the most important in maintaining society’s harmony. If such units are destroyed, the multiplier effect from broken families is huge impact to a peaceful society.

Most of us know that our future lies in our hands. The future can only betray us when we betray ourselves. To me, I do not see solving problems any harder unless we choose them to be. It is all in our hands to recognize our priorities for survival that is both happy and lasting. Technologies are supposed to assist us attaining solutions and we should not abuse technologies out of greed to the point that it will someday get the better of us. This is the wisdom and intelligence that I feel is crucial. Just because one could argue in profound words that differentiates one from the other & only believe that only that certain group of knowledge is the best to lead and therefore shunning away all other possible solutions; is not only stupid, but also dangerous.  We want a meritocratic place where people are credited fairly because of what they’ve positively done to society, not silly looking ideas of appearing ‘intelligent’. In that manner, can we be sure to say that such research is truly beneficial. I often find sickening arguements coming from people whose eyes are grown on top of their heads. They think they know it all because they have come from certain classes in society. That is elitistism & elitistism usually have sorry outcomes.

Our problem is not complex. And shockingly the nature of the problems are often similar. Then why is it that we love to expand and complicate them is often beyond me. Surely there are many different scenarios behind different sets of problems, but my point is why should we always use added knowledge to add up more problems when added knowledge is supposed to solve them?

I used to believe that top schools yield the kind of knowledge that we need to perform. Now I doubt if such systems do work. Times have changed, ideals and norms have changed. Let’s wish that the new year spells far less violence like what we are seeing now in various cities around the world. There is a migratory trend that really says something about societies and it is defintely unhealthy.  [People are moving out from what it was the technologically advanced cities fraught with high crime and violence to other places that seem to be safe and peaceful.] And hopefully when the bunny comes hopping in, it knows where to burrow and where to hop in times of trouble. Being passive and docile at times may be better than being mighty & aggressive. Sometimes we need to check our pace, and the year of the bunny may just be the year to check it out before propelling forward just yet in that powerful leap.

Hope I’ve made sense. While writing this, I am redefining what my own wishes are. I still very much prefer the old 80s to 90s and a life of tranquil. I really hate the current greed and all. But what can I do when I live in a pragmatic city where the emphasis of money is getting more and more important ?  — Karen Fu

reference

1. Bill Joy: ‘Why the Future doesn’t need us’