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  • Writer's pictureThe Original Folks

Ep 30: We speak to Minister of Education, Klinson Soh about the Yale-NUS saga

Hosts: Jade and Deniece

Guest: Klinsen Soh, and An Anonymous Guest


IIn this episode, Jade and Deniece sit with Klinsen Soh, host of the "But Then How" Podcast, and an anonymous guest, discussing the educational system in Singapore, particularly its flaws, benefits, and areas with a need for improvement.



Episode Timeline:

[01:24] Introducing today's guest, Klinsen Soh, who runs a podcast called "But Then How?". There he focuses more on topics that are often very easily tossed aside by most people, exposing layers that give room for more thought on those matters. He also discusses technology, entertainment, and society as they relate together. Of recent, he has had more emphasis on the conversation of people coming together following the pandemic especially with the closure of the Liberal Arts School in Singapore.

[02:57] Why are you so passionate about the closure of the Liberal Arts School in Singapore? Describing the situation surrounding the closure, Klinsen shares that YNC would be merged with the NUS university scholars' program. However, the message to both sides was quite different as many people understood the merger to be a closure of the YNC. The public message was supposed to be that elements of YNC would be introduced to the new college formed from the merger. This situation caused an outrage, as most students are unhappy about it, and there were rumors that YNC was unaware of the process before the decision was made.

[06:40] What impression do you now have about the educational system in Singapore? Klinsen believes that the merger is not necessarily geared towards doing what is best for the students, as no student is satisfied with it. Generally, education is supposed to prepare you for the economy or to qualify you for the next stage of your life. Klinsen points out that only very little knowledge gained in school is actually used later in life.

[09:12] Klinsen's suggestions to restructure Education: The first issue to answer is how to cater to as many children as possible. Jade shares her experience in school when she went to a polytechnic and didn't feel she was a good fit for the course before eventually deciding to pursue music. Although she uses some of the skills gained, a lot of the time spent there would have been better used in music. She believes that the educational system needs to expose children to more options in life. Deniece highlights that the main reason for education in Singapore is to churn out factory workers to generate money for the economy since people are the main resource. Liberal art basically involves creating art of any endeavor or field, as such, it cuts across a wide range of topics and professions; Deniece believes it is a course good for ministers. Secondly, Klinsen suggests less individual reading in school, and more group discussions to figure out ideas.

[20:30] Our hosts introduce an anonymous guest, who is a musician and teacher with 2 kids, and she agrees that schools should have more time allotted to music per week. Music is also a tool used in preschool to help kids learn to express their feelings. Our anonymous guest agrees that there are more rules and restrictions in primary school compared to preschool, where kids are allowed to explore more.

[28:10] Compared to the way education was before, our second guest highlights that kids are engaged more in project work. Klinsen also talks about Blended Learning which is now more implemented with schools on lockdown; Blended learning involves learning individually first before going to the classroom, after which questions are just asked and discussed in class. For the younger kids, however, it might be difficult to ensure they can learn on their own before going to class. How do we prepare kids for the roles they are going to play in the future?

[36:50] Klinsen believes that generally the educational system is lacking but Deniece notes that a major function of the current system of education is to teach kids how to think logically and cohesively as well as hone their research skills.

[38:22] Analytical skills are noted by Klinsen to be very practical in everyday life, and he shares that he had learned this in one of the university courses. This skill helps people understand the concept of right and wrong rather than simply just accept whatever they are told. Deniece shares that those social media platforms where people leave comments can also be a good place to have such analytical conversations without getting aggressive.

[43:04] Another useful skill in everyday life is Conflict Negotiation Framework.

[45:28] Is there hope for education? It's not just the students and curriculum that are changing but teachers too as they recognize the need to adapt to meet the needs of students. Jade shares that the dynamic between students and teachers changed over the years because teachers are much younger and can relate better with students. Deniece believes that if the ministry of education can communicate with parents more and analytical minds, progress in this sector would be rapid.

[49:53] How to contact Klinsen:

Instagram - @bthpodsg

Twitter - @bthpodcastsg

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