Previously, we’ve covered the differences between local and international education for your expat kids and why you should live in a good school district, but are you aware that by relocating to Singapore, you’ve placed your child among the smartest high-school kids in the world?
Singapore’s claim to the title is largely due to three factors: style of teaching, quality of teachers, and competitive environment.
1. Style of teaching
It is no secret that Singapore’s government and its citizens place a high emphasis on education, as they believe education to be the deciding factor of success in this information age, both from an individual and national context. As information is easily available at the tip of your fingers, it’s no longer enough to just rote learn, children need to be pushed to exercise creativity in order to differentiate themselves from the machines. According to OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, “The emphasis on the application, the creative use of knowledge is very, very strong in Singapore and other Asian countries.”
In Singapore, students are not separated according to their abilities and learning pace. Instead, teachers treat students in a class as a whole, electing instead to wait for the academically weaker pupils to master the basics in each chapter or concept before moving on. This allows the students who have quicker mastery of the subject to sharpen their skills and at the same time, cut down the costs of having teachers hold extra classes.
Additionally, there’s less emphasis on rote learning and more focus on problem-solving skills. The idea is to do away with memorising formulas, but to put more thought into how to find the answers. By using this method, students are encouraged to use their imagination and logic, so that they understand how and why a problem should be approached in this way, as opposed to memorising a formula that they may not directly encounter in their future line of work. For example, how many of us need to apply the formulas for finding sine and cosine in our jobs now?
2. Quality of teachers
In order to achieve creativity in the use of knowledge, having quality teachers is important. There is no point in having the passion and drive for knowledge if the person teaching your children does not share the same passion and drive, or the skillset and intelligence to do so as the people your child associates with regularly largely influence the latter’s formative years. For example, if you or your child’s teacher communicates with your child in broken English, how can you expect your child to have a perfect command of the English language?
According to Marc Tucker, the president of the U.S. National Center on Education and the Economy, “They source their teachers from among the best kids coming out of their high schools,” which helps Singaporeans retain their smartest citizens in the country. This in turn, strengthens their education system, contributes to the economy, and maintains their status as the country with the smartest high-school kids in the world.
3. Competitive environment
Although it is important for public policy to emphasise education, which leads to better teachers, it is also important for those who are learning to keep wanting to learn and perform better than their peers. A competitive environment is a healthy way to keep people motivated to work harder or achieve specific goals, which translates to self-improvement and ultimately, a thriving society. Without it, people may end up complacent, which eventually leads to stagnation.
The importance of a competitive environment can be found in this article by Strait Times, which names Singapore as having the world’s second-most competitive economy in 2015, behind Switzerland. The study also shows that Singapore has shown consistent performances across economies in a study that includes categories such as infrastructure, health and education, and technological readiness.
Meet Aidan Na, 5-year-old genius
Don’t believe us? Meet (metaphorically speaking, of course) Aidan Na, who possesses an IQ of 142, making him one of the smartest kids in the world. According to Live Strong, which quotes the National Association for Gifted Children, in general, the average IQ score is 100, while truly exceptional scores are above 140, and Aidan fits right into the latter category.
Before he was two, Aidan could already read and recognise the alphabet, count to 100 and converse in full sentences. His fast development drove his father, Allen Na, to let his son take the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales IQ test at age three. The test is one of the three tests that is officially recognised by Mensa International.
According to Allen, his son was so smart that after he observed them unlocking their smartphones, he could deduce the password combination and use it to access YouTube to watch educational videos. Aware that his son’s high intelligence quotient does not equal emotional intelligence, as well as the possibility for overly smart kids to be competitive, Allen tries to get his son to focus on the process, rather than the outcome, be it in problem-solving or play.
Currently, Aidan goes to Pat’s Schoolhouse Sembawang Country Club, a preschool in the north of Singapore to further his education. The school believes in nurturing a child’s confidence in order to produce a child that is not only intelligent, but resilient as well. Allen has already contacted Mensa Singapore, as he is interested in letting his son join the prestigious club, and the organisation has confirmed that Aidan’s IQ scores qualifies him to be a member.
As you can see, although Aidan is a born genius, he still requires all three factors: A style of teaching from his parents that goes beyond rote learning, high quality teachers and a competitive environment from Pat’s Schoolhouse, in order to be one the smartest kids in the world. Just imagine, if his father didn’t care about his son’s rapid development, Aidan wouldn’t have been discovered to possess an IQ of 142, nor would he be provided with the appropriate education to hone his skills—he might still be stuck learning to form full sentences with other children his age.
Were you impressed by how the environment in Singapore makes for fertile soil on which the smartest kids are nurtured, especially with Aidan Na? If you need a head start or advice on getting your kids the best education, connect with our resident Education Experts here or leave your questions below.
Cover photo by Bimzz