Sunday, June 9, 2013

Our education system is destroying creativity - guest speaker

I am honored to be the guest speaker of this debate. I will give my own perspectives with respect to my understanding of the motion, at the same time be as unbiased as possible. (Continued below the fold...)

by WX

I read with great interest as both sides give their argument based on the French or Europe type of education system, giving examples such as preparation classes for the Engineering Schools. Coming from a Asia country, I would say that there is a great difference between the system here in France and the one I had back home. Although it is true that physics and mathematics are also very important area of study in my country, other courses, which can be considered as "arts", are very popular among students and employers. One such course is architecture, which requires drawing skills as well as creativity. Also, in my country, education system provides different route for people with different ambitions. For example for students wishing to go to university, you can take the junior college path, while for students who wish to join the work force as soon as possible, or students who are more technical inclined, there is a special institute called Institute of Technical Education. Students can also join many different private colleges and universities available, which provide courses one cannot find in the government university. With so many choices to choose, it is difficult to apply the arguments in my country, but it is also important to take note that I believe that the level of creativity is about the same in both regions. So does the type of education system really matters?

Personally, I was the pioneer batch of students in my country to receive a new form of education: Teach Less, Learn More. What is does, is basically allowing students to have more freedom in the subjects they choose, to have less examinations and to have more focus on the projects and presentations based on own interests. With all the promising outlook that this program brings about, it creates many problems too. For example, students tend to choose subjects which can be passed easily. Plagiarism was also on the rise. Of course I am not here to criticize my country's educational system. I only wish to bring out the point that even with the options to choose what one wishes to learn, it still have its problems and the effect on the level of creativity may not be as great as it promises.

Lastly, I would like to ask both teams to think about this: what role does "model answers" play in this debate? But before you get confused, I would first like to share with you a true story. During World War 2, the Americans had a difficult time choosing the ideal candidates as pilots, as those who passed exams with flying colours had high rate of failure during operation. An experienced pilot showed the government how to choose the right one. Instead of choosing those who give textbook answers, he prefers those who are more daring and act based on their own thinking. His explanation is that everyone knows the textbook answers, even the enemies do. So there is no point memorising all the answers from textbooks during the War. 

Another story: Japanese electrical giants Toshiba was about to bankrupt during its early years. At that time every company was building fans with black colour, and Toshiba followed suit. But due to fierce competition, Toshiba was not doing well. One of the employees came up with an idea: why not produce fans with different colours? This idea was met with strong opposition in the board room but the CEO decided to give it a try as they already had nothing to lose. By being different than the "model fan", Toshiba survived and leapt to be one of the strongest company in Japan.

To me personally, this is the real culprit who can kill creativity. But I will leave it to both teams to discuss its application and validity in education, hence its application to our debate.

I hope I have injected some fresh ideas into this debate in an unbiased manner. It can be useful for both teams as they can be developed further. Hope that the last speeches are exciting and creative, no matter how our education system has affected us. May the best team wins! 


1 comment:

  1. When I read the beginning of your text, I felt like you've never tried to think outside your current French engineering school's box! Indeed when you say "Also, in my country, education system provides different route for people with different ambitions.", refering to technical institutes etc. Haven't you heard about "bac pro", "CAP",... which are our equivalent streams in the French education!
    Yet I approve of you on the fact that the subjects chosen to be taught in our schooling may definitely affect students' creativity?
    But the real question is why. Can we define creativity as an unified notion or do different kinds of creativity exist, depending on the field?

    Futhermore I think you correctly pointed out the draw of many current courses which base most of their education on "Learning by heard".
    Indeed, "Learning by heart" (think of law or medical students for instance) without completely having assimilated the material, definitely destroys creativity!