ST Apr 6, 2010
Have more faith in the Singapore system
SINGAPOREANS should be more confident in their country and not be swayed by outsiders who have no stake in how society here works, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said.
Responding to a student who asked if Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values stance, he said: 'We need to be more self-confident.'
He related how when he became education minister in 1997, he was surprised to find that teachers lacked confidence in themselves, even though they were doing a great job.
'Everybody was telling them that they were doing the wrong things,' he said. 'I said: How can this be? People are coming to learn from us, see how we teach, why we are successful. Yet our teachers don't have self-confidence.'
It led to Mr Teo resolving to set up a unit at the National Institute of Education for teachers to study why Singapore's education system works and how it can be improved further.
Notice that the student wasn't asking about self-confidence. He wasn't asking about "outsiders". He wasn't asking about what Singaporean teachers were doing wrong or right. He wasn't asking Teo to talk about his past projects in 1997 at NIE.
The student was asking Teo whether Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values.
Teo's response was, of course, totally irrelevant. Teo might as well have said: "Oh, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Birds have wings and dogs can pee. I hereby refuse to answer your question."
That response would, at least, have been honest. And confident. Although still stupid.