in any case, if anyone deigns to visit this place before the critical exams start tomorrow, here's some entertainment.
See also the reply by Mr Mike Evans (Head of English).
I've never been good at GP; don't think I ever will get good at it. Just look at how I'm writing now — if you think this is even C-grade stuff, you're sadly mistaken. I'd say 8/50.
Perhaps these are the incoherent, unstructured, poorly-argued, silly views of a bitter person who can only be contented with an average of 20-odd marks. Usually the only people in class who do worse than I do for the essay are Jonathan, a fellow writer for R(a), and Su Ching, the chief editor. Gangwei, our graphics and layout editor, comes close. Perhaps I'm just whining about my poor grades.
But why keep it all to myself? I might as well attempt to drag this ramshackle of an assessment system down with me.
Is the importance of General Knowledge greatly overrated?
I try to read the newspapers, and I take a look at the Economist when I walk past the growing stack in my room. Laziness is obviously not something to be proud of, and probably why I do so badly in GP. But I comfort myself in the knowledge that at least I know when the class is laughing at me, and not with me. But the question I always ask myself is this: What's the point of knowing so much about the world when you know so little about yourself and the people around you?
I'm not saying we don't need general knowledge. What I'm saying is that our immediate surroundings should be of far greater importance. Instead of troubling yourself with how the UN can mediate between Country X and Country Y, why not think about how you can ease the tension between the two classmates in your class who never seem to see eye to eye? Since you can remember that such a percentage of pollution will lead to our living that many years less, why don't you pick up that small piece of litter under you seat and throw it away?
I might one day apply the knowledge I've learnt from the Economist. For example, when my friend tells me that he doesn't have enough money, I could barrage him with how the woes of inflation, the devaluation of the US dollar and the instability of the Indonesian government have led to a reduction in capital such that I cannot cover my opportunity costs. Or I could carry on a proper conversation with him, with both of us none the wiser.
To add to the frustration of attempting to understand the market situation in East Asia relative to the United States, I have this nagging suspicion that many an entrepreneur who knows that much less than my classmates is still that much more successful than most of us will ever be.
And most importantly, the things I read about what people are doing across the globe don't help me much, don't teach me much. They only depress me. One more murder, one more war, one more statistic to quote in my essay.
If all of us GP students could feel just that little bit more for the people around us, even if we knew that little bit less about the people not around us, we would be happier, and those around us — those that we can affect, those whose problems we can actually provide solutions to — would be happier as well.
"The Argument has little true application in the lives of normal people." How far do you agree with this statement?
Another question is this: Since we know so much and talk so much, why don't we do something? You only argue about something when you feel strongly enough about it, and when you want to do something about it. I see no point in rattling on about education in Singapore or the ethics of gene therapy in Saudi Arabia when we aren't going to do anything about it, when no action is going to be taken at all. What's the point of thinking so hard, sorting out facts into examples and counterexamples, deciding on a stand, if you can't even understand how ITE students are faring, or how an infertile mother may be desperate for a baby?
The ability to form an argument may be an important tool. But once again I question its relevance to everyday living. Does coexistence with your neighbor or the auntie who sells lemon tea require you to form an argument? Did Martin Luther King really prepare an introduction (with definitions and stand), a body (with examples to provide substantiation and counterarguments, no less) and a conclusion (to sum up the speech and restate the stand)? Even as a leader of tomorrow, will argument really be the way to motivate your followers?
As a person, why would you ever want to learn how to win a person to your side through an argument when all it might take is a smile and some courtesy? Who, apart from examiners and interviewers, would really be impressed by the huge sums of general knowledge a person has stored in his processing appendage when such a person doesn't know when he's said too much or when he's overstayed his invitation? In fact, I'd hate it if a person argued with me over something -- and even if he were on my side, I'd find it irritating for him to produce an argument for me. That's why nobody does it in everyday life. Doesn't it make sense, then, that we shouldn't do so much of it in the classroom?
"Objectivity and logic run counter to human nature." To what extent
is this true?
During a speech, what is more likely to move the crowd — high-strung passion and fervour or a clear, logical sequence of points and substantiation?
When you talk to a person, are you more likely to move him through tears and laughter or a clear, logical sequence of points and substantiation?
What would the GP teachers find more interesting — a sentimental narrative or a clear, logical sequence of points and substantiation?
What do we need more of — a few words of comfort and advice or —
A clear logical sequence of points and substantiation?
GP is useful, and its effectiveness in testing our command of the English language is as good as that of any other test. But like all other things in our education, its being tested has led to an unhealthy fixation on things that don't seem to click with the humans in us.
(Might that be one of the reasons the GP tutors find it so hard to maintain our interest in the subject? Why I'd rather read a book than my GP Bulletin anytime?)
So, what is the point of writing a GP essay?
As of this moment, it's so that I can pass my promos.
I can just imagine my GP teacher shaking her head mournfully.
You haven't been able to form a clear, logical sequence of argument. Too few examples and too little substantiation. You can't expect anyone to take you seriously.
perhaps all i can do now, is to hope that they will actually have some sympathy and not kill us off.