Friday, September 7, 2007

Soft Knowledge

Many undergraduates enter university after years of school thinking it would be the place where they get past their last few years of education by studying books and attending classes. What most don’t realize is this is the minimum requirement to rightfully graduate as a person with expanded worldviews and global mindset.

But that’s all fancy talk for someone who doesn’t read local or even campus news.

Most undergraduates think they know what is going on in their own lives, in their families or among their friends. They don’t realize there is a huge amount of information they are not receiving that is directly or indirectly relevant to them. For example, there are students who have mapped out all the modules they want to take at university and think their university career is all laid out for them clearly. But if they are not aware of the latest goings-ons at their schools and faculties they could miss out on meaningful events, updates on student activities, learning opportunities, interaction with the student body, and above all, important academic information.

Recently, the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory policy at National University of Singapore is being revised and the University Administration has been consulting the NUS Students’ Union to get feedback and comments on the available choices. Decisions such as these are important to the entire student population, and for undergraduates (and graduates alike), information such as this directly affects them.

For both Singaporean and foreign students, they need to know the relevance of Singapore in the global community – for different reasons. When Singaporeans choose to travel abroad for work, further education, business, or any other reason, they act as the ambassadors of Singapore, and it is their duty to communicate an honest image of their country. This is true for locals studying at local universities traveling anywhere in the world.

For foreigners, when they return to their home countries, or visit other countries – especially those who choose to stay and work in Singapore, it is of utmost importance for them to educate themselves about and understand the local culture, as they too act as ambassadors of Singapore. Moreover, they are obliged to connect with the local and foreign population.

Serious things aside, one needs to have a reasonable amount of awareness on local issues when attending business networking sessions, gatherings of friends and other social events. More avenues are open to people who know what is going on, where everyone is ‘at’, and who is doing what.

In a nutshell, undergraduates in universities need to focus on gaining certain kinds of ‘hard’ knowledge, but without ‘soft’ knowledge, their hard work and dedication to studying and scoring high grades might as well be considered a complete waste.


jaded junkie said...

This is an unfortunate result of a system that quantifies and measures everything. There's too much weight put on the L1R5 score, on ranking, on the specific answers to specific questions, on how much points are allocated to one question, etc.

Knowing more than the substance is not rewarded as long as the specific answers satisfy the 2-point mark required. This doesn't encourage reading and curiosity. The high-achievers are those who has objectively determined what the 2 marks are for, and this is the skill that is generally cultivated in many young people.

There's too much focus on objectivity (and true enough, they pride themselves in being succinct and concise and not as flowery as their neighbours) and other things seem as unimportant.

Yuan Xin said...

If more people accepted your POV, NUS wun be a university in Singapore anymore. I totally agree with you!