Curiosity propels a child to learn, discipline enables him to perfect what he learns: Chan Chun Sing

Curiosity propels a child to learn, discipline enables him to perfect what he learns: Chan Chun Sing

“It is said that when a child is confident, there is no challenge too big to overcome. On the other hand, when a child loses confidence, there is no challenge too small that the child will not fear and succumb to,” said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing. And that’s so true not only for a child but for adults too.

“For our Little Red Dot to keep shining, we need to enable our people to be competent to earn our keep with the world as our hinterland and markets. We need to engender the confidence in our people of our place in the world, and to chart our own destiny, and we need to distinguish ourselves as a people with our principles and values,” Mr Chan said.

Not easy being a child in today's world of the internet

Mr Chan noted that it is not easy being a child or teenager in today’s world of the internet. Unlike in the past when we perhaps compare ourselves with our neighbours or classmates, today’s children compare themselves with the world.

Confidence to accept themselves

But things in the online world can look too perfect, Mr Chan said. The incessant need to compare, and to keep up with the Joneses can have a most negative psychological impact on children’s self-esteem and confidence. Hence, it is more important that ever that our children and teenagers are equipped with the confidence to accept themselves, know their strengths and build on their strengths.

Confidence to compete in a globalised world

"The foundation of all competencies is the combination of curiosity and discipline. Curiosity once ignited will propel a child to learn. Discipline once ingrained will enable a child to pursue, master and perfect whatever he or she desires to learn."

In this respect, teachers has a big role to play in igniting curiosity and inspiring confidence in students. Mr Chan related that when he was in Primary 3, he could only read picture books because he came from a non-English speaking background. However, his form teacher, Miss Loh inspired confidence in him to read by bringing him to the school library one day and encouraging him to choose a thick book, and to read one page at a time. When he had completed reading the book, his teacher asked him to help out by being a librarian. His curiosity was piqued and his confidence grew.

Chan Chun Sing

Many of the things our children learn in schools may be outdated by the time they enter the job market. But the confidence nurtured in them to keep learning will stay with them, Mr Chan said.

However, confidence must be balanced with vigilance against complacency,” he added.

Economic success alone will not make us a nation and a people

Economic success alone will not make us a nation and a people. What it does is to buy us time to ‘build our confidence to chart our way forward and bond us as a people through thick and thin, regardless of race, language, religion, ancestry or starting point in life’, Mr Chan said.

“Ultimately, in a fast-changing world with growing uncertainties, it is our values that will anchor our generations, as they navigate the complexities of the new world,” Mr Chan said. These values which will distinguish us aas a people and nation are: openness & inclusiveness, meritocracy, integrity and being principled.

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