Rote no longer enough

April 2, 2007

Developing countries tend to focus more on rote-learning; cramming as much information into the head of the student and validating the student’s efforts by how much they have remembered. The curriculum tends to be dry and factual-sounding. What’s more important is the when and what. Formulas to remember all this information thus become popular, and as time grows shorter, cramming to pass exams become more commonplace.

What are the rewards?

Those who succeed in national exams are feted and celebrated by the country, sometimes through the media, mainly through parents and their surroundings; often giving their parents and extended family members bragging rights (though the latter tended to put more pressure on their children to exceed expectations). Those who didn’t were often considered less desirable by a wide range of people, least of all, employers.

What does this system promote?

Very often, memorisation and the belief that if it’s not in a book, it’s not really worth your time. Studying, studying, studying; that’s all that matters. It will help you get into a good uni (preferably one with scholarship) and once you get into a good uni and get good grades, you will not need to wait to graduate to get good job offers.

Right?

Wrong.

I have one friend whom you could say fits the mould of what a top student should be. Scholarship, completing her education overseas (no, I don’t mean Tiara), getting good grades, etc. By right, she should been flooded by job offers when she came back, shouldn’t she? She writes well, has a pretty good idea of where she wants to go, but nothing really outstanding when it comes to her resume besides her grades. Took her some time to find a job.

Nope, not quite the dream we thought it would be.

Contrast this with another guy I know. Guy’s pretty much a slacker, has average grades (according to him he was supposed to have finished his diploma last year) and yet, his work is great. He got an offer from a rather reputable company the other day. The guy just asked him when he was going to graduate, and once he got his answer, offered the student a job on the spot once he’d graduated.

Quite different from what one would have expected, no?

Like what the above friend says, it’s skills that matter, not grades. My friend found a job that was where she wanted to be and is quite demanding on her organisational skills. The guy? He’s having fun WoW-ing. Me? I’ve used my customer service skills, writing, and some thinking skills. Some I said. 😄

And that is the end of this random post.

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