Looking for interesting conversations? 3 very interesting ones happening next Saturday:
Neigbours in Need – Why I Get Involved http://com.passion.sg/?p=137
A sharing and discussion on how individuals and groups dedicate their time, efforts and resources to help those in need. Participants will also get to know the challenges faced by the low-income and how they are overcome. If you are concerned about our neighbours in need, find out how you can get involved at this session.
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2010
Time: 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Venue: Tiong Bahru Community Club, 67A Eu Chin Street (off Seng Poh Road) S169715\
- Challenges faced by neighbours in need, and the support received by the community (Ms. Ho Hoy Fong, Vice President of Evercare Welfare Centre)
- How a civil society activist and a business brought food to more in need (Ms. Heather Chi, Director of Food for All; Ms. Nichol Ng, Managing Director of FoodXervices Inc.)
- Students share their charitable experiences (Ms. Jacyntha England, Shanghai Singapore International School)
- Facilitated by Mr Jolovan Wham
Seminar on Education http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=231270716589
They will be discussing the following issues: 1.What are the education policies needed to prepare our next generation? 2.How can we make education as the key means of enhancing social mobility and employability of Singaporeans? 3.What are the education plans for Special Need/Disabled Children?
Mr Tan Kin Lian, who is unable to join, has penned a paper to share his thoughts on the education system. His paper will be circulated during the seminar. Their panel of speakers include Mr Tony Tan, Ms Hazel Poa and Mr Justin Ong. The invited external speaker for the seminar is Mr James Gomez.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
1:30pm – 4:30pm
Berkshire School Pte Ltd, 100 Beach Road #02-19A, Shaw Towers
Whose Mainstream Is It Anyway? http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=239326063386&ref=mf
Mainstream values, mainstream culture, mainstream population. In the past few years, the word “mainstream” has been bandied about in our mass media, on a wide range of issues such as family values, global warming and death penalty. But what are they referring to, exactly?
Do they refer to the values or opinions held by the majority of our population? Or those few who are most vocal and persuasive? How do we know if these values are right or rational? Whose mainstream is it, anyway?
Although consensus may be hard to reach, come to this month’s SHM and have a fun-filled afternoon discussing in small groups a range of issues from varying perspectives.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Venue to be announced.
Fees : $5
Eligibility : All SHM members. You can join here http://www.meetup.com/Singapore-Humanism/ for free.
Readers & friends might have noticed by now that I’m quite anti-institution (as opposed to being anti-authority, anti-religion etc). I do recognise institutions can have a useful and necessary role to play in societies as we know it. But I’m just anti-group-think, anti-”this is what you should think”, anti-”you’re either for us or against us”, anti-”only we can think like this, no one else can”, anti-”get out if you are not like us”.
A new way of learning
Readers & friends might have realised I’m anti-school, as school is today, in Sg as specially. Waaaaaay to institutionalised.
With the rise of websites like http://www.academicearth.org/playlists/, http://www.ted.com/ etc, I envision a future world where school has no walls, no buildings, no one to decide what you should be thinking, learning, or desiring. It would be a world where people choose what they want to hear, what they want to see, what they want to experience.
Through tools like Facebook, forums etc, people then discuss what they’ve seen, heard, experienced, so that they can decide for themselves what’s valid and what’s not.
I’m not using the term “children”, but the term “people”, because learning shouldn’t be restricted to just certain age groups.
A new way of employing
Without examinations and certificates, there’ll be so much less egoistical, uncessary, artificially-induced stress on people. But how then can employers know who to hire?
I’m sure many of you who have some working experience know that certificates can be bought, or mugged for, and are sometimes a really poor indication of a person’s ability. Many times, having an intelligent conversation with a person would tell you so much more. A person’s life experience, rather than certificates, would also mean much more. A person who comes in as says, I’ve got top class honors in social work, versus another person who says, ‘when I was 16 I got together with my friends to do this project, which saw 1000 more families having a house to stay.’ —- who is a better hire?
With the decline of lifelong employment , and the increase in contract or project-based employment, the negative effects of making a wrong hire is also much smaller than it used to be.
Can this model work?
Eg. of Non-institutionalised employment
Well I think this model is working quite well in many areas already. Most NGOs, community groups, religious charity groups, voluntary groups operate on this model. We work with different organisations as different points of time for different projects. Most of these volunteers are very motivated to the cause, which was why they volunteered —– project leaders do not have to think up motivating strategies they way they have to in companies which “dump” projects on staff. In large organisations, stupid projects are also undertaken sometimes because leaders who are unfamiliar with the ground situation, force the projects through, resulting in unmotivated staff. With the NGO/VWO model, stupid projects are quickly killed simply because no one would volunteer to work on it.
One huge downside of NGOs and VWOs currently is that, despite the initial motivation that volunteers have, the attrition rate is very high and projects get stalled because volunteers don’t meet deadlines or don’t deliver. Alot of this is linked to the fact that volunteers are unpaid, and most have a full time regular job that they give priority too.
However, if this project-basis employment were applied, and people get paid, and that was their means of living, I think this problem would be solved. There would be a certain proportion of people who still will not deliver, but over time, these people would have gained that reputation, and project groups would not want to involve them anymore.
Non -institutionalised learning & employment works for more than what people think
I recognise too, that this model may not work for every single industry. Perhaps for social work, arts, sports, sales, business etc it may work. But who wants to be treated by a doctor whose skills you’re uncertained about? So I do suppose in some fields, the institutionalised model would work better, and we should retain them. Also, I think 3 year olds still need to go to a playschool; would be very hard on the mothers and fathers to guide them individually!
However, even in fields where we think certificates might be necessary, it may not really be so.
My dad’s an engineer, repairing turbines on oil and gas fields all over the world. He flunked his ‘O’s the first time, scrapped through the second, and then dropped out of poly (he didn’t say so, we found his certs one day! =D . Over the years, he’s read and learnt on his own. Over the last couple of decades, his company (a US MNC) has put so many new staff under his charge to be trained. All these staff are equipped with engineering degrees and masters from all over the world (required by current company policy, not when my dad was hired 4 decades ago!). I’m proud of my dad. I don’t think his story is unique, I think most of us would have heard such stories before. Which really shows that non-institutionalised education can really work!! In fact my dad often complains about the new engineers coming in with rigid textbook knowledge, who soon run out of ideas to solve the technical fault when their knowledge bank runs dry. He’s looking for people who generate solutions, not replicate past solutions.