Have a more liberal and open-minded university education
LETTER | After 13 years of education in a controlled and strictly disciplined school environment, we send our children to college to broaden their horizons to prepare for the real world. They are already young adults with a sponge mind eager to absorb and grow in this new phase of their lives.
College is where we trust our children will learn to think sideways and outside the box to meet real-world challenges. We expect them to be mature and confident, able to grow and excel in the professions they have chosen and to compete with their peers nationally and internationally. Only then will they be able to make a difference in the world and open up new avenues thanks to their innovative spirit.
However, looking at the situation today and how our children do not have the freedom to be exposed to the realities of life, is this hope just wishful thinking? How can we open up the horizons of our children while their minds are still conditioned and caged? They don’t have the freedom to be adventurous, to meet new perspectives and to form their own perceptions and opinions. It only quenches their thirst for knowledge and the unknown.
One example is the abrupt cancellation of an online dialogue with Ramli Ibrahim, a renowned performing arts artist. This is a missed opportunity to grab the brain of someone who has pursued their passion in an art form of a different race and religion. What prompted an engineering graduate to embark on and excel in an art foreign to their “natural” psyche? They will never know or be able to cross borders like Ramli did – take a leap of faith to make his dreams come true.
I was fortunate enough to be a student at Universiti Sains Malaysia in the 1970s. The full exposure I experienced was like opening up a new world to myself. During the first year, I was exposed to a variety of subjects within the School of Humanities. These included visual arts, critical thinking, performing arts, communication, statistics, to name a few. Two of the 10 subjects had to be interdisciplinary, so I did international relations and sociology.
In the second and third year, I specialized in mass communication, but I still had to take subjects in several disciplines. So I added French, philosophy, photography and dance to my class. All of this was intended to provide a comprehensive education and knowledge that I had never experienced in my primary and secondary education.
The beautiful part of the system was also to accumulate course notes throughout the year. As such, we had to work hard throughout the year and there was less pressure on the end of year final exams. We would already know our grades for most subjects and could therefore spend more time and focus on the weaker subjects. It was less mental stress than when the final exams were 100 percent of your marks.
On a lighter note, I discovered that I could take better photos than my other travel companions – understanding light and composition – and managed to find my way once lost in France with the splash. French words that I still remembered!
My hope is more liberal and open-minded exposure to the real world and applicable life skills to survive in today’s competitive world. Education is the key to make this happen. Otherwise, our future graduates will remain unemployed, not in demand, and will end up being garbage collectors in Singapore as has turned out to be the case.
The views expressed here are those of the author / contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Malaysiakini.