In my post sometime last month entitled "Turning Brunei into a Nation of New Ideas", there were a number of very good opinions. But I thought I will just turn to three which unfortunately were all written by anonymous commentators, so I can't credit whoever it is that wrote in the comment box. But if you recognised that among these are your comments and you would like to be properly credited, email me and I can credit you properly.
It's a debate about the way teachings are conducted in our schools and not just a primary level but secondary and tetiary levels. I remembered my own sister who went to United World College in Singapore and later to St Andrews in Brunei. She could see the significant difference between being asked to find her own information as opposed to being spoon fed. With being asked to think and to find her own knowledge, she spent more time acquiring the knowldege but she acquires a skill of thinking and a skill of acquiring knowlege as compared to being given all the information. It's the difference between being taught how to fish or being given the fishes.
Anonymous 1: "...This post reminded of an incident that happened to a friend of mine after returning from an overseas posting with his family a few years ago. His children had the luxury of getting 4 years of UK education. Inevitably they had to return and they ended up back in one of the local schools. A few weeks later his 10 year old daughter received a 1 week suspension because she 'argued' with her school teacher about a particular subject on discussion at the time. This surprised me because his daughter is very well brought up and charmingly intelligent. You would think that you are talking to an adult if you have a conversation with her. When asked what she did that led to her suspension, she just said that she only pointed out to the teacher that the incumbent made a mistake and she offered to give her reasons and opinion, which according to her is the norm when she was in school in the UK.
Anyway to cut a long story short, I am also lucky enough to have my children go through the same UK education and have seen the differences between our system of education and the UK's. Ours does not encourage thinking and reasoning. It does not allow them to express opinions and challenge things which may appear normal to us but different to a 10 or 15 year old child. We tell them to memorise the times table without explaining the concept first. We educate our children through a rota system. Spoon feeding etc etc... This is where we lack and this is why I think Brunei has an uphill struggle to turn into itself into a Nation of new ideas simply because the education system does not encourage our young children to explore 'creative thinking' or 'self expression'. I hope I'm wrong but from what I have seen so far from my work experiences in Brunei and overseas, the light at the end of that tunnel is far from bright. I've not posted this message to offer solutions but to highlight a gap in our education system and to a certain degree, our social way thinking..."
Anonymous 2: "...I agree with anonymous above. It is true, the teaching and thinking of Bruneian's (do not mean to offend or stereotype) need to widen. I was brought up in a similar setting, UK-based teaching and I often found it weird that other students from government school were different to how I dealt with the school system. Take for example studying overseas to an Australian University. Here the people and classes are full of discussions about issues- issues that Brunei shelter's the young generation from. How is that productive when the real hard hitting issues are hidden from them? How are they 'supposebly' the generation to build our future when they themselves are still thinking and acting the same as their parents.
It really was a culture shock to have to talk about certain issues, but over the years I have realised that Brunei has slowly opened up its shell and become more open to all sorts of Issues, especially about women's abuse and other health issues. Thats a positive step I guess. Slowly InsyaAllah, Brunei will be there as recognised as other countries in the world. And all will be happy with the changes happening..."
Anonymous 3: "...I do believe that Bruneians has the capability of churning out new brilliant ideas. We have seen Bruneian students winning all there competitions let it be the Robocon competition or any other competition out there. I fail to believe that the new generation has the 'malas ku ingau' mindset, i've seen students who wants to achieve much more than just the normal academic goal. I've seen students who wants to build and invent new things, those who wants to create something new and unique but alas theres something that sets them back. Creativity does not lack in Brunei and so does red tape. With all the red tape around it takes forever to get anything done. Whenever I talk to someone about businesses, the most common complains is the lack of procedure. Not only there is lack of procedure, you have to know those high up to get things done. Also in order to get things done one has to 'mengampu' those high up so that they would sign the relevant papers. So where can we put the blame on?..."
To repeat, so where can we put the blame on? Or better still, can we move to a better way of teaching?