17 November 2006

Kids Stuff

PAP MP Michael Palmer spoke in Parliament about the importance of a quality pre-school education. The text is available somewhere on the P65 blog.

Palmer refers to scientific discoveries about human brain development. The quality and quantity of stimulation that a child receives in the first six years of his life will play a huge factor in determining his mental capabilities ... for the rest of his life.

This has got to do with the actual physical growth of the brain (neurons, dendrites, synapses and so on) which is influenced by the external stimulation. Past the age of six, the brain has done most of its growing, and the possibility of further huge gains in mental processing capabilities become much more limited.

Palmer therefore argues for the Singapore government to place more emphasis on pre-school education.

The topic is close to my heart because I am a daddy of two young children. In fact, ever since I became a father, child development and psychology has become one of my pet topics.

The scientific discoveries are nothing new, and are furthermore a continual work-in-progress. Gaps and unknowns are still being researched. But overall it is fair to say that the first six years of the child's life really matter a lot, in determining his ultimate capabilities.

Palmer's post on P65 attracted a worried comment from one concerned citizen. An excerpt:
Dear Mr Palmer,

I feel strongly that putting more emphasis on pre-school education will be detrimental to our nation. Yes, perhaps children do benefit from an early education, but I think that you are neglecting several consequences that will arise should your suggestions be put in place. First and foremost, Singapore is a competitive culture. We have seen this time and again when parents pressure their children to get into a good school by attaining high scores in their exams. This pressure starts at the Primary level, where parents already compete with each other to get their children into prestigious schools. Put more emphasis on pre-school education, and you will see the pressure on children jump to an all time high .....

It is a tragedy that Singaporean school children are so pressured already; but it is a necessary evil. Already, children commit suicide because of stress-related problems. Let us not impose these pressures on the young until they are truly ready. Please, let children be children. No good can come, in my humble opinion, of turning them into competitive academic machines.
I absolutely empathise with the sentiments of the above post. However, I also absolutely disagree with its substance. Let me explain.

What should a quality preschool education be like? If you go by what the scientific discoveries tell you, it should be fun. It should be enjoyable. Kids should love it.

If they don't, then it isn't a quality education. Why? Because little children learn through play. That's how you engage their higher cognitive centres. If they feel stressed or frightened, that means they're operating from the reptilian cortex (the part of the brain that generates the "fight-or-flight" response to danger). And that's simply not where we need the brain growth to be.

In other words, if your little kids feel stressed in class, then the teacher sucks. And your kids aren't getting a quality preschool education. Quality learning only happens when the kids are having fun.

That's why in a quality preschool, you expect no homework. Your kids want to go to school. The classroom has toys, posters, art materials, musical instruments - and plenty of space for the kids to run around. The kids learn not by sitting down and memorising, but through drama, games, singing, dancing, art & craft, group play and hands-on experiments. The teachers are caring, humorous and smiling.

Lessons are designed to engage several of the multiple intelligences at a time. The environment is not competitive, because nothing is graded, nothing is given an A or B or F. Every lesson is designed to be its own reward. Everything should be fun.

So I hope that the Singapore government will promote quality preschool education. We need many, many more trained preschool teachers who know what quality is all about. Precisely because Singapore is already too competitive. We need to stop the current education system from destroying our little kids' natural curiosity and love for learning. We want things to be fun.

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33 comments:

Anonymous said...

For an MP who said that he only found out that there are poor people/families AFTER joining PAP, not in the 1960s, not in the 1990s but in the new millennium!?! I'll take any thing he knows, researh, said with a pinch of salt.

Anonymous said...

maybe for first six years, brain did not develop?

boon said...

I am a psychology graduate, and I agree with the notion that intellectual stimulation has the greatest impact in the early years.

Another interesting finding is that the smarter the child, the greater the effect. i.e. a high IQ child will improve much more than one of normal IQ.

IMO, it would be a tragedy not to develop to one's full potential.

And yes, learning should be fun! Years of studying for exams in a pressure cooker environment does NOT prepare one for life. I've come out of the system relatively unscathed, but I fear for our future generations.

Sandra said...

When I brought my son to the Primary 1 school briefing, I was shocked to hear the teacher in charge explain that the Primary 1 child was expected to know the alphabet and be able to write his name in English and Chinese. Hello, I distinctly remember my first lessons in school was learning the ABCs, and it didn't take longer than a couple of months. So why waste the money on "pre-school" years which can cost as much as $600 a month?

Anonymous said...

My daughter has just graduated from her pre school and like Mr Wang, I'm really interested in this particular area.

I think what constitutes a good pre-school education depends on its very definition.

Some parents define a good pre-school education as one which prepares the child for the formal education system.. thus by the time the child enters primary school, he should be able to handle primary school work of preferably up to primary 6 (*grin*)

For me, a child would have received quality pre school education if he loves learning and asking questions and finding ways to answer these very questions.

My daughter? She loves reading and doing experiments on her own. She's shared many gems about her discoveries over dinner.

That, in my mind, is QUALITY EDUCATION.

pc

Indi said...

I rarely see Singapore children doing fun stuff outdoors. Maybe they should make schools outdoors and sell those aircon systems to pay for better toys and outdoor games.

klimmer said...

Somehow, if its the government driving this, I think it would be anything but fun.

Anonymous said...

My only hope is that these P65 will not morph into the likes of their revered MIW bosses and become gutless parrots.

Eg. What Baey Yam Keng said about liberalising MSM struck a chord with me.

So while they are still human, I will appreciate anything positive from them.

Anonymous said...

Now we know why there are so many PAP kindergartens in Singapore.

(I'm one of their graduates, still have a pic with me in their cute white uniform, blue shoulder straps with blue shorts. 80s.)

Anonymous said...

""""Years of studying for exams in a pressure cooker environment does NOT prepare one for life."""

In PAP's Singapore, your whole life, your raison d'etre is determined by your (potential) contribution to the economy. It determines where you study, how you study and what you study.

Along the way, you will mug, get good grades and some of you will be handpicked to be government scholars to perpetuate the class of ruling elites.

In other words: the PAP is saying to all kids: FUCK YOUR LIFE, CONFORM AND GET GOOD GRADES. FUCK CRITICAL THINKING.

No one can deny or change this fact, this scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

the P65 will need to think for themselves and family too mah. moreover, million dollar salary is so tempting. they won't piss of their PAP masters.

Robert HO said...

http://i-came-i-saw-i-solved-it.blogspot.com/

Just because my blog has been viewed 312 times in the last fortnight or so, LKY got his ISD agents living and operating in the flat above mine to vandalise my fridge spoiling all the food in the freezer, about $100 worth or so. By now, my aircon, electric typewriter, fax machine, computer hard drives, DVD players, etc, etc, have been vandalised costing me more than $2,000 in repairs/replacements.

These vandalism attacks are not new and have been ongoing for 15 years. I have long documented these in soc.culture.singapore. To know more, if you are interested, do a search there using the search term... RH: LKY crimes... Or visit my blog above, which details proofs that LKY rigged the Cheng San GRC election in 1997. I have 2 eyewitnesses to this sordid deed. That is why Cheng San disappeared from the electoral map after 1997. LKY lost there and could not afford to contest it ever again.

Robert HO
S0197974D

P.S. Apparently, LKY cannot take the brutal truths about himself. He 'cannot handle the truth'. So he gets his ISD agents to do KID's STUFF like vandalising my fridge, when he could so easily have deleted me and my family from the human race with just a tap of a button on his American-bought devices. Kids stuff really.

straydog said...

Jeez, really wonder what kind of childhood the MP had.

Like Mr. Wang said, play is the best development for the mind, whether be it games, or spiders as in my case when I was growing up.

I am a 65 child, neither pre nor post.

Kim Heong said...

I believe teaching moral values to kids in their infant years has a big impact on their life, and the future generation.

Everyone agrees that kids nowsday are smarter than our generation during the same age. But has anyone else notice kids now are general less disiplined, less respectful, less caring, more self-centred than ever before?

Parents are ever ready to give their kids the best head start in education, without realising they are bringing up a kid with the wrong value. What good if your kids grow up to be the next CEO, but as a person, sucks big time?

Academic education is important, but imparting the correct moral values is as important, if not more.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that by the time a child reaches pre-school (read: 4-6 years), he/she will still be at his/her full mental potential.

You see, a child's mind is like a sponge which hardens with age, but is very capable of absorbing information. The best time to bombard children with information is not form pre-school, but from birth.

I am a living testimony to this method; my dad taught me invaluable language skills and knowledge even before I could speak. After which, I kept reading and reading; and did not have difficulties with grammar that almost all Singaporean students, and even adults have.

Start young.

Anonymous said...

if you're a Singaporean parent, there has to be a balance between letting the kids really have fun and ensuring that ur kid studies.

my question is, when the time comes, as a Singaporean parent, could you really bear to watch your kid fall behind in class, fail to get into a top secondary school, and fail to get ahead in life early? if you're not going to drill your kid early, many other parents will. when at 18 years old, your kid watches his peers get top university places and scholarships and eventually land good jobs, he or she begins to realise the reality of Singaporean society, how heavily dependent one's future is on the early years - and he might blame you instead.

The truth is, the basis Mr Wang gives for letting kids have fun - to make learning enjoyable - is not very relevant in a system such as Singapore's. No matter how much your child loves learning at 6 years old, by 12 years old our system will have ensured that your child will have lost most of the love. Yet those who end up loving to learn a little more than others will be those who were pushed at a young age, during their pre-school years, and thus sailed through primary education - without as much stress as his slower peers would then begin to experience -, helped by the early physical growth of the pre-school brain. in the Singaporean system, where grades really do put students in unspoken social classes, your child would benefit from a higher self-esteem that would spur his intellectual and academic abilities and motivation in secondary school and JC. my point is, give him a hard, early push, and from then on it'll be as if your child's rolling down the hill to success by himself - easily and thus happily.

so i've presented the other extreme. at the end of the day, though, i'd still handle this method with care. while i'm obviously for the stand that a child needs a lot of mental stimulation as early as possible, for a person to really succeed in life, social skills are exceptionally important. Top grades will get you past the Singaporean system for the first 18 years of your life, but after that, the working world in Singapore, with the requisite politics, networking, contacts etc is no different from the rest of the world. teaching your child social skills will allow him to make friends easily and enjoy doing so. Friends will come in handy during school years and working years as contacts and people who will vote your child into leadership positions that greatly help scholarship chances.

yes - i'm quite obsessed with scholarships.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Mr. Wang,
To put it succintly. I agree totally with you.
Let our children play ( as children should).
I do keep an eye on my kids' progress but I also allow them to develop their interests and talents be it, music (not just classical), skate boarding etc.
If they have passion for things around them, they may not necessarily have monetary success, but they will be complete and happy human beings.
Hence I don't quite agree with the previous comment (anon 9:43). We must be brave enough to not join the rat race and be like lemmings heading for the cliff.
Dr.Huang

gecko said...

Coming from a primary school point of view, I can tell you that less, rather than more, teachers know what true learning involves - a very conscious and also subtle understanding of how learning is not compartmentalized but rather integrated across disciplines.

Our school system is getting there. But the teachers within the system need a lot more educating than the children do.

waterchild said...

The way the brain develops, perhaps we should consider investing most of our education dollars in the pre-school years than in the university years. That way, everyone gets to benefit.

At the same time, the whole education system must go together. Otherwise, whatever benefits reaped at pre-school level would disappear once the child enters primary school.

The Singapore society places a lot of emphasis on education. Some research I came across found that returns on investments in education in Singapore is amongst the highest in the world. A higher-educated Singaporean is more likely to earn good pay than a similar highly-educated person in another country. This had been attributed to the fact that for the past 30-40 years, Singapore had been able to industrialise and go hi-tech quick enough to create the demand for highly-skilled workers. In contrast, countries like the US and Europe had been seeing unemployment, eg amongst middle managers, due to its economic re-structuring.

I guess that could be one of the reasons why the Singapore society places so much emphasis on education. Perhaps a day will come when that correlation becomes less strong which will allow the society to review its 'values' on education.

Anonymous said...

Your views: 2 China-born Singapore government scholarship holders with history of conviction given PRs

17 Nov 2006

I read with much concern about the conviction of the 2 China-born Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) on government (MOE) scholarships for beating up a fellow student last year. ("Campus jealousy: Two fined $1,000 for beating up fellow student", ST 17, Nov).

The facts as presented are:

1. Both are China-born nationals with S'pore government scholarships.

2. The incident happened in April 2005.

3. They received their PRs in 2006.4. One is now an engineer and the other an entrepreneur.

The questions I'd like the government to answer are:a. How did they manage to get their PRs this year when they already had a criminal record for the crime commited in April last year? -

Has our Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) lowered their standards that even criminals are now given PRs? - What are the criteria when granting PRs? - How many PRs out there with criminal records? - Are there checks in place to ensure those given PRs and citizenships are of good standing without any criminal records?b. How are government scholarships awarded?

The case shows even foreigners of dubious character are given scholarships, at the expense of citizens. This is ridiculous!.

The report does not indicate if these scholarship holders are bonded to the MOE (it doesn't seem so in the case of the entrepreneur). - Does this mean the scholarships are unconditional? - Is the engineer working in MOE or another stat board/GLC? - If so, how did he land that job when he has a criminal record?(Note: I assume the government has a central database linking the various ministries, stat boards, GLCs, so effectively, these 2 PRs' criminal records are available for access at these government bodies).


KAYE POH

posted by Sgmediawatch at 9:16 AM | 1 comments links to this post

Friday, November 17, 2006

Anonymous said...

More often than not, parents put their children through unnecessary stress and competition, not for the sake of their children but because they want to look good in front of others.What's the difference between 98% and 100% score? Why do parents compare?

As for values and character building, some may even see it as a waste of time, not to mention that being true to yourself and holding to principles, they say, will leave you on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder as you allow political animals to step all over you.

As long as we see education in $$$ returns, we will never get it.

Anonymous said...

Just as an example of the kind of parents we have in our midst and how they 'educate' their children:

I was in a supermarket and saw, from afar, a woman looking at shelves of cereals. Her son, about 10 years old, was standing beside her. Right in front of him was a box of cereals dropped on the ground. Might have been them or someone else who dropped it.

As I walked nearer, the son moved and kicked the box of cereals aside because it got in his way. The mother glanced but did nothing.

So, I decided to go and pick up the box. Guess what? The woman stared at me and walked away.

What have/will the child learn?

Anon 9:43 said...

Mr Huang, I do respect the way you want to bring up your children, and same goes for all parents. But as a teenager (I'm taking my last few A level papers next week) who's been brought up just as you said, being allowed to pursue whatever i wished and to have fun, I realised by the end of all the fun and games that my capabilities thus far failed to match up to the life goals i eventually came to develop at 16, or 17.

My parents really gave me free rein to do what I liked - thankfully, one of those interests I had from young was to read and know things. I wouldn't consider my love of learning to have resulted from a lack of childhood stress which Mr Wang advocates, but merely a chance result, perhaps due to my genes - any other unfortunate child could have ended up with less constructive interests. As a result, I managed to scrape by academically, topping my primary school and secondary school. Yes, I wasn't pressured, but I'm more of an exception to the rule because despite my laziness and all the distractions which my parents' permissiveness allowed, the luck of draw conferred me good genes to ace the PSLE and O levels without much effort.

Now let me elaborate on what my parents allowed: they allowed me to stay home every day to play computer games, my second interest. They allowed my then-social shyness to persist, and I was so shy and timid that I had no friends in primary school. I grew up with a lack of social skills because they consistently allowed me to retreat into my shell throughout my childhood years - they didn't try particularly hard to direct me to improve myself. And I was badly overweight - they did tell me to cut down on eating but my immaturity resisted their efforts. They did not stress me out by telling me what I needed to do to get ahead in life, maybe get a government scholarship (which entails being more all-rounded, with sports, leadership abilities, etc.) Now I wish they had.

My point is, you never know how your kids may turn out or want later in life. I'm a lucky case because despite my parents' permissiveness, I managed to place myself in an adequate position to have a good chance of succeeding in life, out of sheer luck. But many others brought up under a similar method may not have the luck to be as interested in learning from young as I was. I love my parents very much - but I don't love their way of bringing me up. It's hardly their fault and I don't blame them for their love, and I've come to terms with my misfortune of developing my life ambitions too late in life to have acted sufficiently on it while I was younger. What I recommend is that, at the start, parents prepare their children for the highest success according to societal norms because at 7, 8 years old, kids don't know and can't tell their parents what they want to be in life and it's a guessing game for parents. I'd rather err on the safe side - prepare my child for success as defined by society so they'll be in a good position at 18 years old to pursue it if they so wish to.

Why 18 years old? Because that's the age your kids will have matured enough to decide the path of their lives, and that's the age when you should trust the decision to them. If you've prepared them for success but at 18 years old they choose another path, then do respect their decision because at that age, it's usually a mature and considered one. But you don't want to risk your child arriving at 18 years old with ambitions beyond his capabilities. Push him to be the best first when he's not able to make his decision about his life, and then when he is, allow him to decide for himself. Then whatever the ambition, be it the demanding one of Prime Minister or an unconventional one, he would have all the devices at his disposal to act on it.

stayer staying elsewhere said...

Research has shown that the brain's development occurs largely in the first 6 yrs of life. So it is crucial to have quality preschool education. I put my children in a Montessori school (by accident as my daughter was so unhappy in the child care that I sent her to)and I was very impressed by how she turned out. Took up a Montessori course out of interest but never made the career switch as my IT job helped pay the mortgage faster than if I had become a Montessori teacher. Happily , I "quit" Singapore a few yrs ago and had the good fortune to practise as a Montessori teacher here in NZ. I am not "selling" Montessori; but early childhood learning has to be in an environment where the child is respected; where he too learns to respect others and the environment he's in. And finally where he can say "teach me to teach myself". Good preschool teaching is not about rote learning , it's abt providing the child the right environment for him to be independent , to "discover" things for himself , to be treated with respect and to be expected to treat others with respect; to have fun and an appreciation of nature ;to be provided with an appropriate prepared environment that allows him to do things for himself. One does not need to send a child to a Montessori school (costs a lot in SG I think). Just read the books esp ones with tips on how to practise Montessori teaching in the home , and you're set to helping your child become a happier , more confident member of humanity. Please forget the spelling and homework for that age group, you'll kill their brain development !! Multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner indicates that IQ is not all there is to developing human potential. Don't shortchange the future generation with our myopic views of what constitutes success as an adult. Let them discover and learn at the preschool age. Don't be so caught up "teaching". It should be about them "learning" not adults "teaching".....

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 9:43,
Thank you for taking time from your studies to reply.
Of course we are not advocating that children be left totally without guidance and leadership. But with this nurturing, parents should allow the child's natural talents to be developed to max.
I am sure your parents had your interests at heart.
Your self generated ambition to do well and get scholarship is admirable and it is never too late to realise that life is about achieving what one considers impt.
In your case, it is academic excellence, others could be via other routes.
Remember not all of us are made for the Ivy League scholarships.
What I find worrisome is that too many of our kids are spending all the outside school hours doing what they have been doing in school- ie tuition ++ on subjects that should have been covered by their teachers. There should be time for other developments.
About not being stressed-There are others not as fortunate as yourself, who are stressed out by their parents and the school system.
But of course a certain amt of stress is essentially in the real world and some take it better than others.
Anyway, best of luck with the A's.
Remember, life is a journey and your destiny does not make or break with any one event.

Dr.Huang

Whispers from the heart said...

If you think parents should love you by making you study more and do more assessments, you will be in for a rude shock in the near future.

Singapore has a warped system that favours academic achievements, at its own expense of a future.

To succeed in life, it takes more than As. The only thing your parents should not do is to let you develop a narrow interest in life - sitting in front of the computer for the whole day.

Give our children a wide appreciation of things in life. Then, let them learn and discover what clicks for them. They are our offsprings, not extensions of ourselves.

Actually, a lot of paper chasing is wasted if we do not know ourselves sufficiently. I know of many who found that the degree they took is not what they really want to do in life! So, they went for another degree and then another .... not knowing what they really want in life.

Anonymous said...

it is another oxymoronic topic again.everyone agrees sg is a highly competitive society and all about making money to survive at the end of the day. so to expect kids to enjoy a free spirited education(ie western model) is not possible. the best you can hope for is that they inculcate 'fun' into their ideological indoctrination of your child. like..the sesame street way of counting currency or the abc of economics yes?lol.

Rowen said...

Mr Wang,

I agree that Kids should have fun.

From the way Palmer is speaking it is that he would be stating the views of one who is more into the behavouiral science view.

As cognitive view by Mr Jean Piaget, he states the following.
"Discovery learning and supporting the developing interests of the child are two primary instructional techniques. It is recommended that parents and teachers challenge the child's abilities, but NOT present material or information that is too far beyond the child's level. It is also recommended that teachers use a wide variety of concrete experiences to help the child learn (e.g., use of manipulatives, working in groups to get experience seeing from another's perspective, field trips, etc). "

Therefore we should bring ourselves to judge the child's level instead of putting them into preschool where they may give a general type of information and teaching which would exceed the ability of a child to take.

As all preschools give standard material to kids and since the classes would be very big and the teachers would not be able to focus on individual kids.

Just 2 cents worth of cognitive theory

Mr Wang Says So said...

Some points are still very misunderstood.

Let me explain. Suppose you ARE very competitive. Suppose you WANT your young kids to excel. What is the best way to achieve this?

What the scientific studies tell you is that between 0 to 6 years old, the kids must have plenty of play; plenty of stimulation in different ways; plenty of room to explore what interests them; and the environment must be safe and secure and encouraging, not stressful or frightening.

These lead to certain effects on brain development, which in turn lead to lifelong benefits in intellectual ability -

and that is completely regardless of whether, past the 6-year mark and into the later years of schooling, the system is competitive or not competitive, or stressful or not stressful.

Thus if indeed you want the best for your young child, if indeed you want your young child to excel in the future, then you should NOT stress your child, for studies show that this is probably counterproductive for your child's brain development.

=====

The other common misconceptions in Singapore are that success has to entail stress; and that enjoyment & learning are mutually exclusive.

This hardly needs to be the case - in fact, if you think back to your old school days, you'd probably realise that the subject you did best in was probably the subject you liked most; the one you didn't find it stressful to study for because you found it interesting and enjoyable.

In my grander scheme of how things could be, students would enjoy more of the subjects they had to take, and therefore they would do better and learn more and score better in those subjects. That's from a systems point of view, but at the individual level, I similarly do not doubt that if a student liked a particular subject, he would be likelier to do well in it.

===

A digression -

personally, my wider view has been that the Singapore system offers tremendous opportunity for an extremely well-rounded education -

but only for the very bright. Example: suppose Tan needs to study 24 hours a week to score 9 A1s. Lim, being much brighter, needs to study only 15 hours a week to score the same kind of grades. Lim therefore has an extra 9 hours a week for other pursuits. Now, for the small minority of students who do have such "extra" time, our system does actually offer great room to pursue their interests.

Ever notice that in fact, it's the academically top schools (eg Raffles Institution, Chinese High) which also have a much higher proportion of students excelling in sports, music, arts, debating, social work etc? It's simply because they have more time for such activities.

Anon 9:43 said...

Mr Wang,

I came from TCHS and i can tell you that on the contrary, it's not because we have more time for activities other than academics. It's exactly the opposite of what you said. There's not a lot of difference between the elite schools and neighbourhood schools in terms of available time.

Firstly, I'll concede that the kids who go to RI or TCHS are smarter than national average, and this might have help them in O levels before the integrated programme. But keep in mind that for four entire years, elite and neighbourhood school students have vastly different standards of examinations and tests, and are subjected to different expectations by their teachers. You'd expect an assignment from TCHS to be much harder and time-consuming than the average school's. You'd also expect TCHS to give out more homework, and since TCHS and RI are independent schools, there's project work, extra-curricular learning, research, etc, that other schools don't make their students do. That's what I experienced in my four years there. So while it's correct to say that students in elite schools need less time and less effort to study for their O levels than the average school's students, that is only possible because for the past four years, they would have put in much much more work during normal term time.

Secondly, the atmosphere in elite schools are naturally tuned towards academics, "mugger", you'd say. We don't go downtown as much, we don't play as much, because we're almost obsessive about our results, grades, and CCA. people in elite schools do have a higher drive to achieve because of the atmosphere. that's another reason why elite schools fare better both academically and in terms of sports and games. That's also another reason to push your children towards qualifying for those top schools if you want them to succeed the typical Singapore way.

3) There's another reason why elite schools are better in sports. RI, TCHS etc are independent schools and get loads of donations and funding from organisations and successful alumni. Their long history helps. So we have more money to invest in bringing in better coaches - in TCHS, the cross country coach is Singapore's marathon record holder (M. Rameshon), the gymnastic teacher was a champion from China, etc. TCHS is one of the few schools to have a full gymnasium that meets competition standards, a swimming pool, a running track that's re-laid every 5 years or so. I'm sure RI isn't worse off. Neighbourhood schools usually don't have that luxury - and even if the students want to succeed, they're pretty much handicapped by the lack of facilities and the lack of an enthusiastic, competition-friendly atmosphere in their schools. And talking about facilities and personnel, yes, independent schools do get to choose their teachers and attract the very best teachers with promises of high pay. The average teacher in TCHS earns about $4 to 5k - not too bad, i'd say.

Pride and Passion said...

To anon 9.43,
I don't see Brazil and some other latin america countries have better sport (soccer) facilities than some of the 1st world countries (singapore included), what they have is the pride and passion. Pride and Passion for things they love. Pride and Passion for their country. This is what singapore is lacking, maybe with the exception of passion for $$$$$$.

Anon 9:43 said...

pride and passion,

in singapore's context, kids don't have much free time to invest into sports and games except in schools, unlike brazil and latin america etc where childhood is more relaxed. so the CCA is usually the only way for kids to develop their sports interests - so the school ends up being usually the only place they can do so too, and facilities come into play as a factor.
another point is that in those other countries, kids who show potential are allowed to quit their studies, which are really of secondary importance there, to join football academies and national associations which have comparable facilities to ours.
don't forget, also, that those countries have much larger populations - it's always an advantage when trying to find enough talent to make up the the 20+ players that make up your squad, unlike in singapore.

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