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Benjamin Yang
Works at Learner's Lodge
Attended LSHTM
Lives in Singapore
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Benjamin Yang

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A BIG thing happened in Singapore (no, not the gold medal), and it is to my big dismay that there was nary a peep in the broadsheets (but of course) and even students that I teach were largely unaware. The bill on the contempt of court has passed despite objections.



I was initially elated that NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin actually stood up and raised concerns (see video http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2016/08/16/nmps-vote-yes-to-new-law-on-contempt-of-court-despite-no-clarification-to-concerns). Her raising issues with the bill was extremely important. Because she is an NMP, she does not represent any constituency and is party neutral. She is also representing voices of the youths, a group that I too work closely with as well. Her points were poignantly put across and clear.


Not only that, she also sat down with other NMPs to suggest changes to certain phrasing of the bill.


But on the actual day, the NMPs withdrew their recommended changes and voted YEA together with the other pro-party members. This was a big shock. The way she voted was like a big 180 degrees u-turn from her stand and the reason was that the law minister has answered her concerns satisfactorily. Unfortunately, whatever clarification seems to have not been made available to the public.


The bill will have an effect on this personal blog. Although my blog is mainly surveying and commenting about the Singaporean eduscape, it is inevitable that sometimes, court cases arise that is either because of/in relation to the eduscape, directly or indirectly. And if the case was not concluded, I am not allowed to talk about it if I look at how the bill is worded (although the law minister says otherwise). And one such example? That of Benjamin Lim who committed suicide after police interrogation about a case that implicated him. At that point of interrogation, there was no accompanying adult person from the school nor family even though he is considered a minor.


Everyday it seems like Singapore is becoming more and more sanitized with less and less freedoms. I was catching up with a friend few days back, who is a foreigner. She asks if that matters because societal and political stability have afforded inhabitants on this island mostly carefree days.


I disagreed. Because the youth will have a new set of challenges ahead of them (these days dinning subjects revolve around apps talk, imagine the same conversation will draw blanks a decade ago) and the current SIT DOWN SHUT UP behavior is molding a generation of people who will not think creatively and go out and solve problems whilst at the same time, technology is engineering people http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/technology/as-technology-shifts-more/3053152.html out of their jobs.


So what is the cost of the lost of a little freedom now? I think it will be magnified manifold in the lost of opportunities in the future.
By: Howard Lee Few would have expected the amended Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill – some might even call it the Contempt of Court Bill on Steroids – to be passed with anything short of the hasty efficiency of our People’s Action Party government. In fact, anyone who thought that there would be any reconsideration,…
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Benjamin Yang

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The school going cohort is getting smaller annually for some time now. This has put immense pressure on MOE because of their enormous headcount. And that is not forgetting the ecosystem that depends it (NIE, NIE trainees, administrative staff, service providers, construction industry that helps to build new schools or renovate the older ones, etc). So right now every Singaporean school going children counts.


So it is not surprising when it was announced recently that private schools need explicit permission to admit local students.


The ministry cannot be seen as allowing locals the option of choice. Especially when it involves students departing the MOE system to go into alternative schooling systems. Because some of these schools http://news.asiaone.com/news/education/new-school-charge-expat-kids-half-usual-fees really care for their own students. What if the local students succeed in such schools gasps.


So who will get the coveted permission to gain admission into such schools? The http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/cant-keep-a-good-woman-down worst students that MOE cannot handle. These kids, the worst performers drag the national averages down anyway and are not easy to handle. So the private schools can be the 'dumping ground'.


It is no wonder that people outside of Singapore routinely see http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/05/asia/singapore-smartest-kids  glowing reports of the education system in Singapore consequently.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is keeping a closer watch on children who are not part of the mainstream school system.Previously, permission from MOE was needed only for Singaporean children who wished to be homeschooled or attend Foreign System Schools such as the Singapore American School.But smaller, full-time private schools, some of which base their programmes on overseas education models, will also now need to get permission from MOE if th...
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And so a 'whistle blowing' poly grad asks why the application to local universities were rejected except for the institution that is at the bottom of the hierarchy when he/she had a nearly perfect GPA and a medalist for the course.


This is not surprising. Having taught in both poly and subsequently JC later, I have to admit that the academic rigor is much higher in the latter. From my observation, scoring a near perfect GPA does not account for much. One of the greatest reasons for quitting my lecturer position in one of the local polytechnics was because of my moral disagreement with the grade inflation. I, together with fellow colleagues were pressured to deliver the A grades so that the students upon graduation can go on to score brand name university admissions. This was considered great achievement and publicity for the school.


Over time however, the value of the A grade is cheapened as more and more students start getting the near perfect GPA. And the quality of the students was dropping even as the GPAs were rising.


The person mention about achieving stellar O level results. Although trying to build a strong case, this also highlights his/her shortfall in understanding the current education landscape. The person failed to realize that majority of the Crème de la crème have gone on to bypass the O levels straight into IP/IB/special programs, the resulting students who go on to take O levels therefore have less competition and thus the 2nd tier of students based on performance now move on to the 'top' by default.


The A level/IB/NUS high students are deemed to more academically capable (the exams are at the other extreme with some of the toughest and mst stringent requirements) and therefore offered majority of available university admissions.


What does this mean for the secondary school going student?


If you want the highest chances of getting into the local university, then an A level/IB/NUS high route is the most direct and offers the most opportunities. But the journey is tough. Not for the faint hearted.


But if you want sometime to explore your options and develop practical skills, the polytechnic education still have a lot to offer. And in the event if application is not successful you will be equipped for employment at the very least - to fill the rank and file blue collar workforce, the original motive of the MOE when the system was created.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/cant-keep-a-good-woman-down Some however, find their way out of the doldrums and refused to be defeated and go on to achieve much later in their lives.
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I don't have sympathy for MOE despite knowing the ministry have a lot on its plate. Because they force schools to  keep up appearances so that the latter can be used as positive examples for the rest of the world.


The first casualty of the whole appearance game unfortunately (and surprise) is the teachers. Should the school teachers only have to focus on teaching from tomorrow onwards, I bet you I will immediately lose my rice-bowl and the tuition industry will immediately turn belly up.


School teachers are treated like shit (want an example? http://theindependent.sg/teacher-allegedly-warned-by-moe-not-to-protest-unfair-treatment-and-risk-landing-in-trouble). There I said it. Majority of them start out being bonded to MOE and the superiors know it. So they start tai chi'ing all kinds of scut work to them because they know there is nothing the fresh grad teachers can do about it. They can't leave without completing the bond otherwise they get slapped immediately with penalty repayment terms. Most can only soldier on unhappy, disgruntled, overworked until they are burnt out. The rest just switch off when they are at work, looking forward to when they can pack up and leave for the day.


I remember my ex-colleagues when I was in school. The more senior ones. Talking to them is like to talking to a cesspool of negative energy. Why are they this way? Because they were once young and were treated like shit. As years pass by the negative energy grows because they don't have industrial value nor an exit strategy to try their hand on something else.


With no where else to release this negative energy, they pass it on. To new fresh grad teachers and to the students. So students, who are right at the end of the pecking order will have to suffer through lifeless classes where their teachers read straight out of PowerPoint slides who are disinterested about the students who then become disinterested about studies.


Will it ever change? Perhaps. When the MOE change their KPI to the gross happiness index of teachers.
A Facebook user Mohan Sinnapillay claims that his daughter is being unfairly penalised by the Ministry of Education (MOE). She is a teacher in a public school, and was sponsored by MOE for a diploma in education course at the National Institute of Education (NIE) soon after completing her A Level exams. She had to serve a…
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The reason why I love teaching biology is because every single concept can be applied and/or observed to real life. Sometimes, this extends beyond biology into to social phenomenons.

Like this recent http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/fresh-law-grads-feeling-squeeze-weak-economy-and-competition article for example, with dire warnings about the job prospects of freshly graduated lawyers. A check with an HR director friend in a mid-sized local law firm confirmed the same views. However, almost 10 years ago, the situation is http://commentarysingapore.blogspot.sg/2006/08/insiders-view-of-legal-profession-in.html  completely opposite. The shortage was severe with many firms paying top dollars trying to secure the oh-so-rare law graduate.


This picture fits into the model of frequency dependent selection, a concept taught in diversity and evolution in H2 biology.


The concepts describes the frequency of favorable alleles that decrease in favor over time because of the sheer numbers of organisms expressing a particular allele (think along the lines that if the amount of food for these organisms remain the same, increased numbers results in competition for the resources and insufficiency), consequently, it is no longer favorable, their frequency decline and those minorities that show the unfavorable allele starts benefiting instead and the tides turn. Some time later the minorities now becoming the majority experiences the same situation. So every few years, there is a reversal but the allele frequency never really reaches 0 (because before that point reaches the selection pressure shifts again).


It's the same with the newly minted lawyers as well. When in market demand, their jobs look attractive and many swarm into the course and career. And the schools facilitate that process. When increased numbers of graduates are released into the market over time, the job opportunities dry up. And with reports warning about the viability of career many would choose to stay away which will result in a reduction and the situation flips.


So how does one benefit or survive in this frequency dependent selection and not be one of the casualties?


It is the most important question isn't it? My suggestion? Acquire another favorable 'allele'. This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVXmYD0UPRQ TED talk by Knut Haanaes fully exemplifies what one can do.


As a tutor I try to be the same as well. Instead of repeating what I do ad infinitum, I keep trying out new pedagogies because I am not satisfied yet with the current iteration of my classes. I continue exploring for new technologies, ideas and ways to further improve the classes whilst in the mean time repeating what has already been proven to work well.
SINGAPORE — Two years after a warning was issued that fresh law graduates could find that jobs are harder to come by, the scenario appears to be unravelling on the ground, compounded by the weak market conditions. Firms have taken in a greater number of trainees, partially because the number of overseas graduates returning to Singapore to look for work has climbed, but the proportion of trainees retained has slid compared with previous years. Tho...
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Benjamin Yang

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Designed by Katerina Valsamaki, located in Greece. #minimal  
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Benjamin Yang

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Every year experienced teachers leave MOE to go into the tuition industry and new teacher trainees fill their roles. Overtime, the tuition demand goes up because the students are learning and making academic progress after attending tuition classes. They find the classes interesting, clear and motivational and in contrast school classes are drab, teachers read off their powerpoints and have shallow understanding of what they are supposed to teach.

As absurd as it may sound, I think it makes sense for the tuition industry to take over the education of our youth and the schools instead focus on exploratory development of the students because they cannot seem to get the education bit right. Rather than jeopardize the future of students, school should seek to develop skills and inculcate ethics and values so that they will be able to find a means of survival after school years leaving the education bit to the seasoned tutors.

On that front, this recent article of Admiralty Secondary School is precisely, why schools should pursue this form of education. Because they have the resources to set up fancy high tech spaces and are able to bring industry players into the fold whilst seasoned tutors have less resources but are good at lesson delivery and exam coaching.

Instead of demonizing the tuition industry, recognize that it is indeed an important pillar of education and reassign the priorities of the incompetent school teachers so that they can actually be useful in the development of the students. What do you think?
The future is here at Admiralty Secondary School in the north, where a high-tech space equipped with gadgets such as drones, robots and 3D printers was launched yesterday.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
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Architect: KIAS
Location: Chiba, #Japan
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Located in Berlin designed by GRAFT. Those are some lovely curves on a house!
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Located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia by Seshan Design.
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Located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India designed by SPASM Design Architects.
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Located in Torino and designed by r3 Architetti converting a shop space to a functional loft. #smallspace  
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Work
Occupation
I am a tutor, teaching H2 BIO A levels (Singaporean version)
Employment
  • Learner's Lodge
    Education Specialist, 2015 - present
  • MADucation LP
    Training Consultant/Entrepreneur, 2011 - present
  • Epigami Pte Ltd
    Dir, Business Development, 2014 - 2015
  • DocDoc
    Dir, Partner Management, 2013 - 2014
  • Singapore Polytechnic
    Lecturer, 2004 - 2011
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Singapore
Links
Story
Tagline
Making a difference in this world 1 student at a time
Bragging rights
Survived 1 week in HK with S$5
Education
  • LSHTM
    Clinical Trials
  • University of Bristol
    BSc Hons (pathology & microbiology)
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Benjamin Yang's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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This is the highlight of the basement foodcourt. You can see the q stretching as far as the eye can see. I have tasted the rojak and don't think it is any special. Though they don't skimp ingredients, and you get value from it. One thing of note, if you would get this as part of a meal, don't go for the bigger portions the sweet gooey syrup is sure to fill pretty quickly.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
The service is great for a Chinese restaurant! Highlight for the day was for me the roast chicken. Its rare to find chicken meat that is still juicy and not dry as bones after roasting. Best time to visit is the weekdays for dinners because you get a quiet unhurried experience when you can catchup with friends over dinner.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
This place is really popular with the lunch crowd ladies. When I arrived, there were no seats and we had to share a table. Food quality is high and I enjoyed my salmon and egg wrap and was pleasantly surprised by the crispy end of the wrap. Though the restaurant is health-food themed, my main gripe is the paucity of non-carb options. For those who worry about gluten, the establishment serve gluten-free items. Overall ambience is great and there is no bill-shock surprisingly. Most health-themed restaurants charge an arm and a leg for this. Major pros for those choosing this place to dine in, its immediately next to the MRT station. For those who drive, parking is extremely limited.
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Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
The EnergyOne Gym is well built and fairly well equipped compared to similar gyms (e.g. anytime fitness). It has a spacious toilet and shower and also a fairly big steam room with Jacuzzi. The 2nd level has a nice view of the pool as well as some more machines. For the price of the membership it is asking, this is definitely a worthwhile place to check out. A tip for those of you who are traveling by bus. Go to Boon Keng or Potong Pasir MRT and take buses that will drop you right in front of Safra. Buses from Toa payoh will stop opposite and it is quite a bit of a walk because there are no overhead bridges and jaywalking is dangerous as the road is fairly busy one.
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Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
124 reviews
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Went to this place recently in the weekend and to get coffee beans and found it closed despite the shop stating the same opening hours. It was pretty out of way and felt pretty lousy after that for a big detour and wasted trip. Found another roaster and realized the prices they charge is higher for the beans that come from the same geography. Not returning.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
A nondescript place which is not difficult to get to provided you know how to walk there. They do serve coffee there but I go there to get my coffee beans. Found that they have a better pricing for the roasted beans compared to other roasters and the coffee is just as good.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
This place screams posh in every way. The seating, the decor and the prices! Not bad for a chillout spot especially in the idyllic weekday afternoons. The macadamia nut latte left a positive impression. Service can be a tad slow do take note.
Public - a week ago
reviewed a week ago