ST July 21, 2006I think this is a good move. I like seeing a wider range of possible subjects being open to Singapore's students at the O-level and A-level stages. This offers students more opportunities to study subjects for which they have a genuine interest or talent.
Sports school is latest to offer PE at O levels
It joins Victoria in doing so, and both stress that the course is rigorous
By Maria Almenoar
YET another school will be offering physical education as an O-level subject to students.
Besides Victoria School, which announced this on Wednesday, the Singapore Sports School (SSS) has also received approval from the Education Ministry (MOE) to offer the subject.
Victoria School will incorporate O-level physical education modules into its Secondary 2 syllabus first next year and then in 2008, allow 40 Sec 3 students to take it.
Singapore Sports School, however, will let about 75 Sec 3 Express stream students and Sec 4 Normal (Academic) stream students start the curriculum from next year.
Both schools defended their move to offer this new subject, especially after concerns were raised that it was an 'easy way' for students to score at the O levels.
Said the principal of Victoria School, Mr Low Eng Teong: 'Our first step when looking to offer this subject was to check how rigorous the programme was.
'Looking at the topics covered and the 40 to 60 per cent weightage on theory and practical showed how intensive the subject was and how comparable it was to other subjects.'
One of the teachers in charge of the programme at the sports school, Mr Zachary Kang, agreed: 'A good athlete will not necessarily do well in this subject. For example, England and Arsenal football player Theo Walcott scored a C in PE. Students have to be balanced in physical activities and academic work.'
In Britain, physical education has been offered at the O levels for almost 40 years.
Under the theory component, students learn about anatomy, preventing sports injuries and the development of sports in different societies, among other things. They must also sit for a written examination. For the practical component, students must take on at least four 'speciality subjects'.
While the sports school has not decided on the sports yet, Victoria School is likely to offer students hockey, soccer, track and field and cross-country as speciality subjects.
Said Anuruddhan Arunan, 13, a Sec 1 student at Victoria School who is in its cross-country team: 'It's quite exciting knowing that I might be among the first students here doing PE at O levels.'
From this year, drama, economics and computer studies are the new O-level subjects being offered. MOE said schools have not asked to offer any other O-level subjects as yet.
As the ST article points out, physical education has been offered in the UK at the O levels for almost 40 years. So doing P.E as an O-level subject isn't even a particularly novel idea.
Out of curiosity, I decided to find out what are all the subjects that Cambridge offers as examinable O-level subjects. Here's the list - wow, 58 subjects in total. (Strangely, Physical Education is not listed - not sure why).
Some O-level subjects which plausibly could be offered in Singapore but (to my knowledge) are not currently offered in our schools or are only offered very rarely would be:
Design and Technology
Fashion and Fabrics
Food & Nutrition
Principles of Accounting
Travel & Tourism
Looking at this list, it suddenly occurs to me that this list of subjects which the vast majority of Singaporeans (two or three generations of them) never took at their O-levels may actually explain a lot about why Singapore is the way it is today.
For example, we lament that Singaporeans do not know how to appreciate the arts or express themselves artistically. But things may not have been this way if Music and/or Art were commonly taken by Singaporeans for their O-level exams.
We wonder why Singaporeans lack entrepreneurship. But quite possibly many, many Singaporeans today would be more entrepreneurial if, in their teenage years, they had studied subjects such as Business Studies, Commerce and Commercial Studies, which would have sparked an interest in at least some of the students.
We know that Singapore is kept clean only by the endlessly diligent efforts of our sweepers and cleaners, and that many Singaporeans still litter freely whenever they know or feel that they won't be spotted by the authorities. Perhaps if Environmental Management had been offered as a common O-level subject in our schools for the past 15 years, more Singaporeans would be voluntarily keeping Singapore clean.
And many Singaporeans are still so naive and unaware of how their society and their lives have been so heavily and mechanically engineered by the Powers That Be. Perhaps there would be greater consciousness today if Sociology had been a mainstream O-level subject for the past 15 years.
(Singabloodypore, by the way, is founded by a sociology academic).
Technorati: Singapore; Singapore education; education.