An anecdote on the state of our education
Share this on

An anecdote on the state of our education

A friend was applying for an American university and asked me to help him with his personal statement. The following ensued:
/>
/>“The question says to write on an issue of local, personal, national, or international concern and its importance to me. Any ideas?”
/>
/>He produced a notebook and on each page was a mind-map on trending topics. International terrorism, the rise of China, climate change were in the mix. It looked like a standard list of pretty much what is happening in the world.  All that we had learnt in school.
/>
/>“I can probably relate the rise of China to Singapore since Singapore has to cope with a more assertive China in the region. And probably talk about terrorism since Singapore being an international hub is vulnerable…”
/>
/>I felt vaguely uncomfortable listening to him. Something was amiss.
/>
/>“But how are these issues important to you? I mean, yea, these issues are important. But why and how are they important to you on a personal basis? How is it important to you as a human being, as a person?  ”
/>
/> At these words, we both stopped stunned, as both of us slowly understood what I spurted out. After that meditative silence, my friend spoke.
/>
/>“I have a feeling that education has taught me all about this world, but nothing about myself.”
/>
/>And I felt immense, immense sadness.
/>
/>For my friend was no simpleton. He was, objectively speaking, one of the most accomplished of my age in Singapore, perhaps easily in the top 1 percent in my batch. His paper record is impeccable – Straight As with a Higher 3 paper distinction, leadership in the student council, team captain and national champion in his sport, and an assortment of various awards and book prizes. Now a scholarship holder and an officer-to-be in the army… He was by no means one of those whose success is limited to the academic; his paper credentials suggest a more than holistic education.
/>
/>But now, he has just confessed that education has not… even made him a person. He was akin to some inchoate concept of a man, some aggrandization of trophies, some hollowed husk of purposelessness. 
/>
/>I slumped in my chair, for I had never heard such a damning statement on our education system.