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Old 12th June 2012, 11:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Essay Help? (Elitism)

Hello people! I'm currently writing an essay about elitism in the Singaporean education system, hoping to get some pointers!

My stand is that the Singaporean education system breeds elitism in two ways:

1. By segregating students based on academic ability from young, these kids often remain in their respective groups/streams through secondary, JC and uni, practically their whole lives.

E.g. top primary school class -> top sec school -> top JC -> law/medicine/etc. prestigious University course -> upper class of Singaporeans (likely that their kids will end up going the same route, if their parents weren't like that already)

This gives them little opportunity to interact with the other 'classes' of society, leading to a lack of empathy for the masses, since they're so confined to a certain lifestyle / social circle. My question is - does this mindset qualify as elitism? If not, how else can I elaborate upon the above point/examples to link it back to elitism?

2. Due to the fact that Singapore's education system is based on meritocracy, those who've made it to the top may feel that they're better than the rest, and fully deserve their elite status. However, this obviously isn't true- firstly, they may have had a more privileged upbringing (greater access to tuition, enrichment activities, etc.) and secondly, the education system only judges by exam results, which is merely one facet of what makes up a person. (tons of people just don't get that.) Just because one has better exam results doesn't make one a better person.

(These are just the main points, not the actual writing)

Advice/feedback greatly appreciated!

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Old 12th June 2012, 11:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Essay Help? (Elitism)

What are you writing the essay for? leisure or graded assignment? The context of the question matters a lot, and the first question I wanna ask you is: where's your counter-balance points?


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Old 13th June 2012, 10:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Essay Help? (Elitism)

It's just an assignment. Yep I've a paragraph of alternative viewpoints- they're less iffy so I didn't include them. Basically addresses the measures that MOE and schools take (especially in recent years) to tackle the mindset of elitism

-by raising standards of schools across the nation (esp. for primary schools, pumping in a few hundred mil for better facilities and stuffs), encouraging each school to develop a niche, in the hopes of reducing elitism amongst institutions
-implementation of integration and outreach programs
-emphasis on holistic education (e.g. more attention given to CCA, character development)

But lots of those initiatives are relatively new, so can't know if they'll work yet.


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Old 14th June 2012, 07:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Essay Help? (Elitism)

I think you have left out another environment that is very crucial: Home.

Elitism or perceived elitism can be born because the child is encouraged to think in a certain perspective by their parents. This forms a clash with ministry-led initiatives in their attempt to bridge all levels of student competencies together. This can be a case of competitiveness vs collaboration.

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Old 14th June 2012, 07:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Essay Help? (Elitism)

"This gives them little opportunity to interact with the other 'classes' of society, leading to a lack of empathy for the masses, since they're so confined to a certain lifestyle / social circle. My question is - does this mindset qualify as elitism? If not, how else can I elaborate upon the above point/examples to link it back to elitism?"

It can lead to elitism because

i. They dont understand people on the ground level and why people dont study etc, hence it might make them look down on them for being lazy when much more complex issues are involved.

ii. They only mix around with each other so their ideas and attitudes and values will revolve around same things like focus on achievement or success as the main indicator or person worth etc

Your second point is relevant and good =D great job

You can also add like Asian society contributes to elitism. Like we are very concerned abt studies, sch name etc and give examples like New Moon Chicken Essence endorsing top students and all.

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Old 14th June 2012, 08:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Essay Help? (Elitism)

Originally Posted by swordfish00 View Post
Hello people! I'm currently writing an essay about elitism in the Singaporean education system, hoping to get some pointers!

My stand is that the Singaporean education system breeds elitism in two ways:

1. By segregating students based on academic ability from young, these kids often remain in their respective groups/streams through secondary, JC and uni, practically their whole lives.

E.g. top primary school class -> top sec school -> top JC -> law/medicine/etc. prestigious University course -> upper class of Singaporeans (likely that their kids will end up going the same route, if their parents weren't like that already)

This gives them little opportunity to interact with the other 'classes' of society, leading to a lack of empathy for the masses, since they're so confined to a certain lifestyle / social circle. My question is - does this mindset qualify as elitism? If not, how else can I elaborate upon the above point/examples to link it back to elitism?

2. Due to the fact that Singapore's education system is based on meritocracy, those who've made it to the top may feel that they're better than the rest, and fully deserve their elite status. However, this obviously isn't true- firstly, they may have had a more privileged upbringing (greater access to tuition, enrichment activities, etc.) and secondly, the education system only judges by exam results, which is merely one facet of what makes up a person. (tons of people just don't get that.) Just because one has better exam results doesn't make one a better person.

(These are just the main points, not the actual writing)

Advice/feedback greatly appreciated!
Firstly, you need to have a very good idea of what 'elitism' is defined as. You are also allowed some latitude to a small extent to define it in the Singaporean context.

e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism (-ltzm, -l-)
n.
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
2.
a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

Once you have a definition of what elitism is, you can then begin to address 'elitism in the Singaporean education system.

Some points for consideration:

'Elitism' doesn't just cover intellectual superiority: what about social/financial status? We might have some RJ kids making the occasional disparaging comments, but we don't really have rich kids flaunting their wealth in school, as compared to the flashy cars, branded clothings of the western society.

Also, do we have control, or domination by a certain class within our government schools? In Japan we might have yakuza kids lording over their own fiefdom in their schools, fraternities/sororities in western schools, etc.

Compared to the 2 points mentioned above, is mere meritocracy a better alternative?

Why intellectual 'elitism' is a regretable necessity for most/all education systems
1. Difficult to teach students of different learning capabilities in the same class.
2. If good performance wasn't sufficiently rewarding, there would be no incentive to work hard. National standards would inevitably decline

I think you have roughly covered some of the cases that agrees that elitism is present in the Singaporean education system, however you should always learn how to see the other side of the picture even't if you don't necessarily agree with it.

Depending on how the question is phrased ( this is really very important ), sometimes arguing from the less popular point of view would score you more points as you'll be able to shine more prominently. Of course certain questions would be phrased in such a way that it's impossible to argue for the other side. You don't have to agree with what you're writing, but it'll be very useful if you could argue for both sides of the fence.

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Old 15th June 2012, 09:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Essay Help? (Elitism)

@lancelot: Yeah I didn't think of this point at all! Okay will be doing more elaboration family-wise. Thanks!

@jerrie: It's far clearer when you spell it out like that, thanks a lot!

@sweetlemon:

"Why intellectual 'elitism' is a regretable necessity for most/all education systems
1. Difficult to teach students of different learning capabilities in the same class.
2. If good performance wasn't sufficiently rewarding, there would be no incentive to work hard. National standards would inevitably decline"

Hmm my current alternative viewpoint is that the ministry has taken some measures against elitism (integration / outreach programs etc.) and didn't consider the above. I should incorporate it for a fairer look at the whole thing... Thank you!

once again thanks so much guys!!

Yep hopefully my essay won't ultimately turn out another boring mediocre thing.

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