The Box

Since secondary school, I feel that I am living in this box, which constrains our creativity and imagination. It is the box of competition, of the academic driven lifestyle, of continual assessments, tests, exams and ‘<insert the alphabet here>’ Levels. In this box, most of the things we do in school have an end in mind: exams. Everything else must be put aside, your CCA, your hobbies, your piano lessons, your taekwondo lessons and what not. Exams are coming! Must start doing ten-year-series, otherwise you would not know what is coming out. Then die! Hundreds of your friends are studying the same book. If you don’t study, you will lugi. Because the same question is very likely to appear again! Then you will have no competitive advantage over the others! Then you will lose out and score badly! Then cannot get to a good school, cannot get to the ‘school of your dreams’.

In junior college, the box gets even more stifling. Two years, cram. Then wham. A little bit of time for your orientation games and what not. But then reality soon sets in and you have to start studying. Otherwise you won’t be able to go to a ‘university of your dreams’.

And then I thought, going to university will finally get me out of the box. Because finally, in university, you get to study what you like, and hopefully there will be less exams and more projects that you are interested in, instead of studying for the sake of studying. But I was wrong.

On the contrary, for some of the modules, the box is exactly the same. Cram. Wham. Mid-term tests. Exams. And oh, there are ten-year-series too. Just that irritatingly, there are no friendly answers provided. What? No answers? Then how to study? We got all the questions with no answers. Nevermind lah. Just keep whacking the questions. Do a thousand times, discuss with friends, until you get them right. Especially those mechanical ones must get right. Otherwise you will be pushed down the bell curve. Because everyone is expected to get those questions right. Projects? What projects? 10% only, what difference does it make to the total marks? The bunk of the marks still come from your exams. Why spend so much time on your project when its weightage is negligible in your final grade? Faster download the past year exam papers. More important. Quick quick, only have one week left to study. Oh, module over? Okay, let’s forget everything that I studied. Kinda useless anyway for next semester since I may not be using it anymore.

I sure hope that my higher level modules have less of the box. And more out of the box teaching and examination methods. No exam is good as everything is based on projects. Just like NM2208. I love it a lot because I do not need to cram anything for any exam. Excellent. Finally, I am out of the box.

The Singapore education system seriously needs to move away from the notion of exams. Singaporeans are trained in ten-year-series, and without them, it seems like we cannot survive. (Except for the super smart ones)