talent meritocracy and exam meritocracy

'yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. there are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well - like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition. most of all, america has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. these are the areas where singapore must learn from america.' quote from sharman, minister of education, comparing singapore and american education. the first point on talent. what kind of talents shall we value? sense of adventure, curiosity, like spending 10 days in a tub of water? or the talents of tiger woods that make billions, or bill gates and simwonghoo's talents in enterprise. shall the nation keep on wasting money on useless talents? or shall resources be channelled to useful talents? here i am referring to national and public resources. private resources can be used by the private party for anything. no one to account to. challenging conventional wisdom. this is a culture that we sorely lacks, or we don't encourage. leaf must be green in colour. sky must be blue. put any other colours in the exam answer will be marked wrong. and all the myths that we have created are the whole truth. unchallengeable or your backside will be sore. challenging authority. who dares? putting up white elephant cardboards is such a harrowing experience. i think we are still not ready to accept a culture of challenging authority. but we can make a start by challenging conventional wisdom, start the thinking process in the schools. from primary schools the children must be taught to question. and maybe...actually questioning conventional wisdom is also questioning authority. but starting them at primary school will take years to bear fruit. it will give society time to adjust. it is the problem of the next generation.


Anonymous said...

"Challenging authority"??

Sharman must be joking!! Another lip services from the government.

redbean said...

hahaha anonymous,

i thought i was the only cynic around.

but he just said it was something that we could learn from the americans. no further elaboration. so take it as it is.

abao said...

Honestly, after being through our Singapore Education System, most people will not dare to challenge authority.

Only a few enlighted ones and the radicals will dare to do so.

redbean said...

hi abao,

this is partially the fault of our parents and culture and also the education system. parents talked down and can be very authoritarian. this is reinforced by the school system. and then the social and political system.

the issue is whether our society and the govt want to correct this kind of mindset among the people. and if so, it has to be done immediately. and the social political system must support and nurture it. otherwise the children being taught to challenge authority will be in for a rude shock when they step into adulthood.

it will have very wide and sweeping implications.

Elfred said...

You can't blame the parents on these. it wasn't a global village during their time. People ain't so educated and exposed to the outside world. All they are mostly seeing is the kumpongs and those policemen in shorts and all those riots and party arrests, plus rumors and communist burning...

What do you expect?

redbean said...

hi elfred,

agree that time and perception and expectation have changed. the older generations were very grateful with a hdb flat and a job. today the new generation expects more and will not take no for an answer.

the respect or fear of authority has changed. old methods of leadership can no longer work. sticking to old style or old ways will only court disasters.

Elfred said...

But we must be aware that even the leaders having been exposed to these changes understand, many in the grassroots and so on are still observing such patterns of behaviors and perceptions.

Some describe such as a hindrance. Whether it is true... it's not a good thing.

redbean said...

the more people knows, the more they realise that things are slipping out of control. it is now not a case of controlling people like they did in the past. it is how to convince and lead.

the internet and satellite has opened the world and bring the world into the bedroom.

many people get very cynical over many things. just because they did not say anything does not mean that things are acceptable or right. there are many wrongs or unacceptable things that people would want to change.

it is only a matter of time and providence.

Elfred said...

It is as if saying: It's as if trying to put people back into the caves and continue on industry producing tiger palms...

Now... If the party with this horde of people don't change, alot of things would just have to change, including the incumbent. There must be progress, cos people want it. And a political entity can progress only when political talents are in place... not overwhelmed by these... cavemen.

Reddie, so I asked you, do you wanna forever be an online commentator? How would you change anything posting just like this?

OK, I also have my own blog but... that's not how I intend to change things.

There must be some... ways to deal some good changes. We can't always have skunks running around at our expense.

redbean said...


there are many ways to change, many instruments to change. it all depends on what and how fast you want to do it. and there is a price.

the most direct is to go into politics, either with the pap or against pap.

or go an join the feedback unit. tell them what you feel, and hopefully they like what you say or totally ignored you.

for here, like what matilah said, it is my turf. i just say what i want to say. people want to listen ok. don't want to listen, also ok.

but if we can raise some issue that make sense to people, you must accept that everyone is a smart alec, when they see something useful they will pick it up. and you don't go and claim credit for it. just let your views or ideas go and influence some decisions. that will be good enough.

in a blog like this, do not expect anything to happen. remember, this is kopitiam. no one is obliged to come hear to listen except some who are paid to listen.

Elfred said...

But are you certain that the Feedback unit, and in fact the entire public service, isn't run by some... old time elements of certain established time-tested attitude and mentality... even if the time is already not the same?

It's not so simple. I have applied to civil sides, and even to PA before for vacancies. The chance is given, and I know the kinda problems... :D Come on. This is a can of what's inside is what is not imaginable simply by external look.

Unless a really good leader comes about and take charge, people as myself will never make any headway more than Durai. We should be the one serving the charities, manning the gateways, not some... Durians... But the entire reality is being reversed even with all the concentration of powers... which means wisdom is all lacking.

Will you assign a grade A rodent to guard your rice stall...

Observe the feedback unit, Reddie. I don't even bother about it nowadays.

redbean said...

again i say this. there will always be flaws. i have been in the civil service for many years. and i have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

it he leader is good, it spreads all the way down. it bad, it affects a lot of people.

but not all good and all bad.

Elfred said...

I am very sorry to point out that... with reference to civil services, just look at how stuck for various people including myself due to this... flaw... Civil services, especially those stuckar mentality and attitude, can only mean the best must manage.

And the best is not what the what is currently being supported by some stuckar mentality and attitude, and complains everyday that we don't have that talents, we don't have this resources, and we what this and that people won't support, that they can't be grateful when rodents are guarding the rice store, lions are are licking clean toilet bowls and fishes are guarding Sahara...

Just look at the many messes around Singapore. Totally whacky. You mean I ain't good enough to get a slight training and teach even Chinese to Sec school but we have to go all the way to China to recruit if I cannot be a journalist and some bimbo can?! You mean ICA have to interfere with my marriage? NS had to sucked? Education should be messed up? This is not MINOR flaw. It's not any tinier than our big Durai saga.

Hahahaha... Sorry, I can't help but laughing. This is to insulting to intelligence.

redbean said...

what mess you are talking about elfred. everything is fine and as planned.

i would like the civil to function as a neutral organisation, running all the ministries regardless of who assume political power. and that there should be less personality cults and more objectivity and independence in decision making. civil servants must function as civil servants.