5/22/2009

So, it is Aware's fault?

Eng Hen has spoken and that Aware's programme can only be reintroduced after it has regained the public's trust. That settles one part of the issue. The second part is how the Aware programme was allowed to be taught in the way it did for so long, and actually accepted as normal without anyone from the MOE raising an eyebrow? In fact the initial reaction from MOE official is that there were no complaints or the noises put up were groundless, unjustified emotions. Who gave the go ahead or why was there no ongoing assessment and auditing to make sure that the content was safe or acceptable? If not for the hooha, the programme would still be taught to the children without anyone getting wiser. Would there be a review and an explanation on this second part of the issue? Are the confidence and trust in MOE affected by this slip? Or MOE is totally free of blame, nothing to do with it?

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Redbean:

Good Morning ! Tough question You asked.

It's like asking whether the executioner or the judges'(magistrate) fault when someone was wrongly/wrongfully executed. The executioner only carries out an order, but there can be people who will argue that he should not take order blindly. Is it so easy ?

My answer is the Higher Authority should be guilty for been careless(can't be bothered) and negligent in its' duty.

patriot

Anonymous said...

This country has a lot of rules and regulations but enforcement is another matter.

As long as no one complains, everything ok, just carry on doing.

Take the smoking rule for example. Everyone is puffing off like crazy even more so than before there was a rule. There is a total absence of enforcement. The NEA is either sleeping or its enforcement officers are taking a leave of unofficial absence after signing in, in the morning. Look at the dirty public toilets. Not much different from those up North.

Plenty of rules and regulations but little or no enforcement. What a country!

Wally Buffet

Anonymous said...

Actually this whole issue is cooked up by the Feminist mentor to fuel her crusade. And we the naive Singaporeans just took it hook, line and sinker.

One should ask yourself why there hasn't been any complaint until AFTER the incriminating pdf surfaced. Could it be that perhaps what was said in class was NOT what was said in the pdf? Perhaps the handouts given to the kids, were NOT of the substance that we see in the pdf. The educational material is probably harmless... which was why MOE didn't react.

Anyway teachers sitting in the class will probably object if anyone said anal sex was healthy. Hell, i'm sure almost anyone would object to such a provoking statement. Even 14 year olds... In fact, this would be something I will bring up to my parents.

So now, why do we choose to believe that pdf rather than our common sense. Think of it, if any of those deviant ideas were actually taught, why haven't we heard of it until now, given the provocative nature of the contents? I mean, there are so many ways a kid can let the cat of out the bag. They may innocently say something like "You're so fat, you should have anal sex to be healthy" or maybe something like "It's ok to have pre-marital sex cos my instructor sez so".

So you see, we're over-reacting. Yes, someone printed some rubbish on paper. (And this should be amended.)But NO, the rubbish wasn't taught in that context. The transfer of scandalous information stopped in that pdf and none of the kids were unduly scarred with thoughts of "anal sex with is healthy".

Sigh... only when our dear FM decided to forward it through email, did woorddd geeet ouuut *scary music*.

Geez people... Dun believe everything you read ok! Some people have agendas and we will play the fool if we believe it wholeheartedly!

Anonymous said...

No need to speculate. Just ask the teachers or those who taught the CSE to swear on oath whether they did or did not follow the deviant material to say that:

1. It's ok to be gay.
2. Anal sex is healthy.
3. Loss of virginity is no big deal.

Wally Buffet.

redbean said...

no parents complained because they placed full trust and confidence in MOE and the schools. and they went about with eyes wide shut, not knowing and not asking. the children too will not go back to tell the parents as this is a subject less spoken at home. so ignorance is bliss.

i must thank thio su mien and his kakis for raising this issue.

and MOE is not so gullible to ban the programme without investigating, without looking at the facts. parents could make all kinds of spurious allegations or complaints. for MOE to act it means that they have found something undesirable.

we must have faith that our educationists are professionals. the reason why teachers did not raise the alarm bell earlier is that they too were ignorant. or a possible second reason is that like all singaporeans, they fear authority and thought that this programme must have the blessing of MOE. so don't ask silly questions.

Anonymous said...

Without Thio and Josie Lau, we would still be ignorant that our children were taught deviant moral values. The issue is not about choice or liberalism. I have a feeling that they knew they will be ousted but in the end, their message was loudly and effectively brought across. Now, we see Aware in a different light. And it is sweet victory for Aware to be booted out of the MOE's CSE programme. Good riddance to them. In my books, that is a victory of sorts. With all the queers making loud pitches in the melee that was supposedly the EGM, I have no doubts what they stand for. No female members of my family is allowed to get within one foot of this organization.

The LGBTs can do whatever they like amongst themselves but to teach gullible children deviant ways is to plant the seed of decadence for the future adult citizens of this country.

Wally Buffet.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> Who gave the go ahead or why was there no ongoing assessment and auditing to make sure that the content was safe or acceptable? < No transparency or explanation is required. This is the MOE — they do things unilaterally because they know what's best for the kids.

redbean said...

heil hitler!

auntielucia said...

The fault lies with MOE, period. How cld MOS Iswaran have said what he said, without knowing the full facts. Also, I think it's farcical to insist that Parliament is secular: then why allow Christians to take their oath of allegiance on Bibles. If S'pore is truly secular then all external symbols of relgion shouldn't be allowed, especially for those administering organs of state. The truth is people are both secular and religious and we can't just shed one "baggage" completely, like the turning on and off of the tap.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Is it AWARE's fault? Or rather, we could say that at least it is known now that there were some fault somewhere. After becoming aware of the fault, it is still absence of gesture to admit fault with apology. What has happened to our educational system & campaign? People Don't admit fault, people don't apologise, where is graciousness?

redbean said...

hi jaunty, this has nothing to do with graciousness. it is just acting dumb. dunno leh. no problem leh. where got problem?

and as far as Aware is concerned, they have not done anything wrong. they are doing good by teaching the children the right values.

you see, has anyone or ministry dare to say that Aware has erred except for not conforming to the MOE's guideline? so the problem with Aware's CSE curriculum is only a technical fault. the values that it was teaching were normal values.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Then it means that there is a fault in the law, how to enforce Penal Code Section 377A when the children is to be taught that anal sex is healthy. Instead of telling the children that anal sex is against the law?

Oh yeah, there is no graciousness involved here, how to be graceful when talking about the doubled up of human's waste discharging organ for sexual purpose, healthily ?!

Jaunty Jabber said...

When we are young, we need to be taught of "Values".

"Values" determine "Actions", not the other way round.

AWARE's CSE has teaches mostly about "Actions".

Matilah_Singapura said...

Actions do play a part in determining values — wrong action for example, will point to the possibility of a wrong value-choice.

What determines (or should) action is THINKING — based on REASON, not myths or superstition.

Sex is deeply intimate, personal and inter-personal. It can't be taught in a vacuum — i.e. as a system of 'floating abstractions'. It has to be concreatized because it does have real-world implications — everything from health, to emotions, mental well-being, effectiveness and even finances.

There are many internet resources for parents who want to know how to talk to their kids about sex, and teach the kids about sexual behaviour, the implications, the responsibilities which go with being a sexually active individual.

Don't leave the teaching of sex to the schools or to some "organisation". Parents might want to consider taking a direct role in teaching their children about sex. Yes, I know it's hard, and possibly "embarrassing", but consider this: the child's life and well-being is at stake.

Jaunty Jabber said...

To some people, sex is a mindless game.

When mindless, there is only action without thought.

No thought = irresponsible act, irregard of outcome.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> To some people, sex is a mindless game. < And I'll bet with you that their parents never had a conversation to them on the subject.

Sex is a great activity — and it extends way beyond the simple biological function of reproduction.

A great majority of people are seriously "hung up" about sex and many still their own sexuality. For e.g. They feel guilty when they masturbate, but they still keep doing it because it feels so damn good.

Children need to learn this stuff correctly — not for any reason to shove "morals" down their throats, but so they can discover their own "truths" and behave responsibly in relationships.

Proper open discourse and guidance would help the kids who are homosexual to understand themselves better. Parents can provide a non-judgmental environment with the required love and understanding to help their children become well-adjusted adults.

Being a parent is no easy task, and thankfully there are resources. Communication is key. Kids are not just exposed to irresponsible sex, but other forms of irresponsible amoral behavior which could harm them (the kids) as well as others — like binge drinking or the use of recreational drugs. All this stuff is out there. IMO the onus is squarely on the shoulders of the kids' parents to nurture and prepare their off spring to become real men and women — responsible, productive and confident.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Google search result

Matilah_Singapura said...

A good start for parents discussing homosexuality with their kids:

Children And HomosexualityNote: Video is indexed. You can click on the right-hand box to jump to the particular topic

redbean said...

thank you matilah.

Matilah_Singapura said...

No worries. Keep the thread going and update it in your blog roll. I'm happy to contribute.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Dear Matilah

Thank you for sharing what you read on the internet, many of them are interesting and enriching articles.

About "sex is a mindless game to some people", I find that if these people make their choice to be irresponsible, they should keep it to themselves and not try to propagate that these are neutral or healthy as long as there is consent and simple protection is used. Especially to the young ones.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> they should keep it to themselves and not try to propagate that these are neutral or healthy < I don't think it is right, nor can one effectively silence opinion that one doesn't agree with.

The best defense I know is being able to think for yourself, and make your own judgments as far as moral aspects are concerned. I define "morality" here as the "code" or principles one chooses for the basis of action — that is, real action in the real world.

To use your last post as an example: you are thinking for yourself by not agreeing that those people with whom you disagree do not have the "authority" when it comes to sexual behaviour.

Good start.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Matilah,

"Best defense I know is being able to think for yourself"

Before a person has reach to acquire the ability to "think for yourself", shouldn't it be dangerous for people to infuse the idea that sex is mostly a physical action ? Even protection against pregnancy, STD are something to be done by action, not from mental protection of having sense of responsibility as first level of protection.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Yes, it could be dangerous.

There is no getting over the fact that one needs to be able to think for oneself. It is not the only thing required for a 'better' life.

You also need food, energy and other stuff or you will die. Not having them is a poor argument. The fact is you need to get them or else. HOW this occurs is another whole set of arguments.

The same applies with acquiring the skills for critical thought. Who is responsible for your learning or however else you acquire the skill-set is a whole other story.

I've suggested that the process — in the case of children — is complex. Many agents can affect the ability for a child to learn how to use his mind. It comprises the parents, the family and extended family, the education system, popular culture, societal and ethnic tradition and a whole lot of other relationships between the child and the sources of influence.

redbean said...

matilah, would you feel confident enough that the children, 12-16 yr old are good enough to think for themselves in such issues? a few may be.

at these tender years, they can be fed with poison without them knowing. and that was as close as it could get.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Everyone can be conned or fooled — regardless of age, background or education level.

Therefore your argument about age is a non sequitur.

You'll be aware that during our granparents and parents' time there were children 12 yrs upward working to support their family. A few of these kids grew up to be great adult human beings.

In previous times people got married at 14-16 yrs old.

I am confident that if you encourage children — from the very beginning — to QUESTION what they are taught, you have a good start in developing children to be critical thinkers and critical of what adults tell them.

In their new book CONSTRUCTING SINGAPORE, the authors identify the public education system as a mechanism used to mould young Singapore minds to a sort of "PAP ideal". Preview the book here.

Jaunty Jabber said...

It is true that people at all ages can be conned. But, the impact varies with age.

Education helps to accumulate wisdom, path us towards intelligent thinking as we grow to reach maturity. Along this route there are many dangerous interference to obstruct or divert the learning path, each interference/obstruction lead to different degree of damage.

I do believe that before a person has reach the stage to be able to "think for yourself", filtration and selection of what were to be taught are helpful. For possible harmful interference that intercept a pre-matured mind, it is necessary remove it, prevent it or modulate it.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> But, the impact varies with age. <

That might have some truth, but it is not A truth. The fact is that we have observed as well as experienced for ourselves the times we made errors in judgment because we believed certain assumptions to be true.

For e.g. many people — smart, productive, normal law-abiding people believe in alternative medicine. Look around your shopping area and notice the number of shops selling all sorts of lotions, potions, pills, balms and what-not in an area of commerce known as Alternative Medicine. For the most part, the majority of these claims are BOGUS — they have failed in clinical trials, have no supporting provable science behind them... yet people spend BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON THIS BLATANT QUACKERY every year, and even legitimate pharmaceutical companies are getting involved in the racket because of the enormous amount of money to be made by giving gullible people "answers" to their wishful thinking. **

> I do believe that before a person has reach the stage to be able to "think for yourself" <

Again I disagree.

People do not "reach a stage". for the most part critical thinking is a set of skills which are LEARNT. If you just simply make one bad choice after another and (hopefully?) learn from the mistakes, that is very inefficient and you could make even bigger mistakes.

For e.g. some "guru" told you to take Potion X to cure your disease. You take Potion X and nothing happens. You complain. The guru then tell you of course it didn't work, you have to jump 5 times backward, mutter some ancient words... and then the Potion will work.

The point here is if you don't have a logical PROCESS, you can't figure out what is true and what is not. The PROCESS IS CRITICAL THINKING.

It is a process — a way of organizing your thoughts, the data or information perceived or presented to you, to make sense of it and make predictions of what it may be able to do, and perhaps a picture about the past.

The simplified framework:

Premise---Premise---> LOGIC ---> meaning.

The way you get duped is the same. Someone presents a set of premises, applies logic and reason, and tells you the meaning. To think critically is to pick at the premises (are they true?), scrutinize the logic (what logical fallacies are being used?), and then looking at whether the meaning those folks are communicating to you makes any sense. You might even want to challenge the "authority" of the person presenting the proposition. Just because he claims to be an "expert" doesn't mean he can't be wrong — whether knowingly or otherwise.

> or possible harmful interference that intercept a pre-matured mind, it is necessary remove it, prevent it or modulate it. <

I do agree ideas (including good ones) need to be attacked and examined scrupulously. However I doubt that anyone can "intercept" a mind. I don't believe we have the technology to do that yet. Yes you can distract people, but chances are if what they were thinking is important to them, they will pick it up later long after the interruption is over.

Also, I don't subscribe to the idea of a "matured mind." What is that? If full grown adults in so-called "responsible positions" can and will pursue their own agendas, start wars, lie, cheat and steal, how far then is any rational person expected to believe whether "mature mind" is a valid or relevant idea? I think not.

There is a movie on my blog which illustrates how children are manipulated. Watch it and as always, Think For Yourself, Question Everything — even your own opinions.

** re: alt med: I don't take any supplements — vitamins, tonics, "immune" boosters... because none of them WORK. I suggest other people might want to question what they are told to believe too.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Matilah acquired the ability to think for yourself, able to analyse facts with values and use logic in critical thinking at age of 12 years old??

Matilah_Singapura said...

Ah. A loaded question. If I answer in the affirmative or negative, I'm screwed. So if it is your intention to catch me out and "win" the argument -- you win. No contest.

However, the question is indeed a poor one to seek the conclusion of anything. Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove or disprove anything.

What my subjective experiences, opinions or world view at ANY AGE doesn't evaluate any position - for or against - the necessity for human beings with 1-2kg brains which are easily fooled to train themselves to embrace doubt, and seek toward the (objective) truth. Depending on the context, the whole truth might not even be possible. What thinking is -- critical or otherwise -- is a mechanism of ongoing processes.

My progress of critical thinking is an ongoing "experiment". I am fortunate to have a father who encouraged his children to think for themselves from young.

To partially answer your inquiry -- at age 12, I knew the difference between "right" and "wrong" even if I didn't have the answers to the whole universe. And I still don't have all the answers. But I know I know the difference between right and wrong, although I am human, and errors in judgement and thinking occur all the time.

Critical thinking or being able to think for yourself is not "the end" or "the goal". The universe and human behaviour are WEIRD THINGS -- what is possible, and going on is beyond our wildest imagination. No belief in the supernatural required.

Even "the best" critical thinker in the world will make mistakes. However he/she is better equipped to figure out how the errors occured and to LEARN FROM THEM, instead of looking for some supernatural answer, blaming others or expecting as a right "assistance" from an external agent like for e.g. "the government" or some "holy" book.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Matilah,

No no, I am not into any contest and I don't think I am up to it to contest you.

The basis of my question is threaded from my original intent to highlight how AWARE could have misled the young if their curriculum is focus on sexual actions rather than on values.

Matilah's analysis on critical thinking is absolutely very true and enlightening if we are talking about adults receiving sexual education under this thread of sexual education. Of course, critical thinking apply to all aspects of life and throughout life.

I was trying to lead on to question if AWARE sexual curriculum about sex are focusing too much on actions rather than values, isn't it too dangerous for the young who have yet to acquire the ability to think critically.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> isn't it too dangerous for the young who have yet to acquire the ability to think critically. <

Firstly, I'll re-iterate the pint about critical thinking — it isn't something anyone "acquires". It is an ongoing process built around methods — which themselves are constantly being refined.

To apply the idea to the training of kids: they have to be taught (on going) and constantly encourage to ASK QUESTIONS — to the point of challenging authority — from the beginning i.e. in kindergarten or pre-school.

Unfortunately the reverse is the case. In pre school they are TOLD what to learn and what to believe — generally without question. Cognition and cognitive skills are built up gradually, and no one is ever a "super rational human" — everyone can be fooled. (I can't go into the many complex theories in cognitive neuroscience and associated disciplines here. To understand this better search around to find out what the scientific — as opposed to metaphysical, mystical or spiritual ideas of human consciousness are. Good scientists/authors are Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Ray Kurzweil and others)

I agree with your evaluations about AWARE, but for totally different reasons.

My concern is that they (AWARE) and MOE are 2 organizations who are claiming de facto "authority" on teaching children about sex.

As far as "values" and "morals" are concerned — these are the inviolable territories of THE PARENTS — who have the first and final say on what their kids are taught about topics such as religion, sex, morals, politics and other "sensitive" stuff.

You can rest assured that if a parent supervises their kids' sex education VALUES will play a HUGE PART in the process. Which is why I'm 100% behind the parents rights — even if they do teach their kids the wrong things about sex.

Society in general is far too hung up about sex. Neither the liberal case nor the conservative case is "correct" — both polar opposites are brought about by thousands of years of religion-based taboo, which doesn't square with the science. I take the position of science, and then construct personal subjective meaning and therefore "values" and "morals" from them.

Interesting links:

Mary Roach is a science writer whose latest book is Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. She is an exceptionally engaging presenter of ideas.

Interview 38 minutes audio
TED Presentation: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm 17 minutes video

Jaunty Jabber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jaunty Jabber said...

Matilah,

I appreciate all that you have shared with us. Thick theory, not many can read up so much, I deemed myself lucky as one of the readers here to be able to receive bits & pieces of knowledge that you have every as & when extracted to share with us.

Reading blog has become so much more enriching with people like Matilah & Redbean to contribute their previous life experiences and knowledge.

Matilah_Singapura said...

My pleasure.

Theory has its place. But direct experience, in the present moment is inescapable.

Good luck.