A few days ago I heard on radio a feisty debate on the effect of TV watching on young children.
I've long believed that TV should not be used as a baby-sitter. And so it was that we banned our son from watching TV (especially so-called children's programmes like Teletubbies) until he was two years old.
He was allowed to watch any amount of sport and news programmes, but no other TV was allowed. DVD and video tapes (back when) were OK if carefully vetted. There was a particularly good Beatrix Potter box set.
More importantly he was exposed to a lot of speech on radio, story CDs, to our reading and our face-to-face conversations.
As my blog stats show that the post on bringing up a gifted child was most read, parents interested in this, please do search for information on "children and TV-watching". Note who says what. Children's TV producers usually have a different perspective from academics.
Oxbridge entry 'still stubbornly linked to postcode' was another news item.
Can't say one is exactly surprised that the "richer" areas in the country have more students getting to Oxbridge.
I remember while I was in RGS reading some sociologists (who later became my teachers) telling us that children who lived in Queenstown (where I lived) was least likely to get to junior colleges and then to university.
(This was when Buona Vista was considered "ulu". There were no Clementi, Pandan this and that, Sengkang, etc.)
Instead of being detered by this finding I was determined to prove these sociologists wrong. And did.
But that was when Singapore was truly meritocratic.
Every neighbourhood school was likely to produce boys and girls going to RI and RGSS. Without the benefit of tuition and enhancement classes. We were the generation of WYSIWYG.
Now it appears that we have to be in the right catchment area to get into a good primary school, to get into a SAP/GEP/IP school, to get to university, etc. Not unlike the plight of many parents in the UK: School admissions fraud rises in race for best places.
What I do not understand is why selection is considered such a bad thing in this country.
Is it because UK is [supposed to be] a Christian country and so any talk of selection is Darwinist and therefore anti-Christian?
In fact this is -- ironically -- a largely non-Christian country. Despite what is an essentially Darwinist outlook the country spends a fortune to support the survival of the unfittest (the feckless, the lazy, you get the picture).
OK, maybe schools should not select on the basis of ability, as in academic ability. What about selection on the basis of good behaviour? Or other positive traits?
Even if children are not naturally academic, they could seek to excel in art, sport, drama, music, kindness, selflessness, etc.
If children are anti-social -- or if their parents think it is OK for their children to be anti-social -- then they should be given the lowest priority for schools, housing, etc.
Would this resolve the issue of misbehaving and disrespectful children?
We were actually having this heated debate at dinner table when husband said, "We made the mistake of giving free education."
When education became an entitlement (free textbooks, free exercise books, free stationery, etc) parents lost their stakeholder function, and quickly lost their interest.
Discipline at school is such a huge problem that teachers cannot teach and the able students -- and I believe there are gifted children in every school, whatever their biological parentage, because God is fair -- cannot learn and so, yes, they don't get to Oxbridge.
Wherever you find good schools (state or private) you find it is the parents who make a difference.
In paying schools, parents would not only push their own children. If other people's children stand in the way of their own children progressing, They would have words with the teacher/head teacher. No fear.
Selection by good behaviour is social engineering, you say?
The welfare state is social engineering on a mega scale, full stop.
And the chickens are coming home to roost. See: It should pay to be thrifty
[It's New Year's eve and I've not been as stringent as I usually am with the use of language here. Apologies.]