My fellow tutor-blogger Kevin Seah expounds beautifully on the sheer power of reading in this article.
One of the things that most perturb me about our education system in Singapore today is that students hardly read anymore. I am not referring to reading textbooks and prescribed works of fiction and non-fiction. I am not referring to voluminous GP “reading packages” forced down students’ throats.
I am talking about independent reading, the kind where a student flits across a library picking up books on everything from psychology to history to information technology (and a gardening magazine along the way) just out of sheer curiosity. The kind where a student reads a newspaper because she genuinely wants to learn about Lance Armstrong’s moral justifications for using performance-enhancing drugs and the level of risk of an accountant or flight attendant’s job being taken over by a robot.
Most Singapore students today do not even read one book outside the school curriculum per year. The great majority also do not read newspapers on a daily basis, or even every other day. I just met a former student of a top 5 JC who managed to get through JC hardly ever touching a newspaper. It is quite remarkable that she actually managed to score a C for GP, but just think of what she could have accomplished had she cultivated a reading habit.
Dear students, I know you are all bogged down with bucketloads of homework, tests and CCAs. But you must also make the time to learn about the world outside your textbooks and develop a healthy curiosity about the real world around you. When you leave school, you are not going to live in a textbook. You are not going to be faced with textbook problems. You’ll be faced with a constantly changing, morally confusing world filled as much with opportunity as with risk. Therefore you must always be keen to learn and explore. Reading is not the only way, but it is certainly one of the most robust and proven ways to learn. Education is more than school; it transcends any building or syllabus. When you seek to educate yourself, on your own terms, by reading at least 15 minutes a day, you receive, as the Americans like to say of their liberal arts programmes, “an education fit for a free man, and not for a slave”.
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