Does homeschooling prepare one for life better?

As the world becomes more academically competitive, with one’s knowledge level becoming key for one’s future job, and ultimately, one’s future. However, is school the only way through which people can learn? Relatively recently, there has come about the option of homeschooling, where people learn by themselves at home. Is this a viable alternative to the traditional schooling methods? This essay will prove how the benefits of attending school are exclusive to the school grounds, and homeschooling cannot provide these advantages.

Proponents of homeschooling argue that the education system is a one-size fit all policy. In most cases, the students with some learning difficulties are mixed together with the more “gifted” children into one class. This largely disrupts their learning process. In comparison, when they are at home, they have the opportunity to draft out their own curriculum to cater to their education needs. This presumes that schools cannot provide such specialised education. The truth is that the school curriculum nowadays are across a wide spectrum – some of them provide planned and guided education for children with learning difficulties, while others provided a more advanced scheme of education. For example, in Singapore, there is the Singapore Sports School which caters towards students who want to hone their athletic skills, while placing their academics at a lower priority. Premier learning institutions like Hwa Chong Institution have the Centre of Scholastic Excellence, which allows better students to take up subjects at a greater depth so as to facilitate their learning in their areas of interest and expertise. Schools also provide a continuous monitoring so that none are left behind. The constant tests and examinations is key for parents, schools and students themselves to understand how well they are assimilating the new knowledge that they have gained in schools. It is important to keep track of our own progress such that we can change the parts that we need to for our own benefit. By contrast, this cannot happen at home if parents are irresponsible, and students do not have a focused task at hand. With a lack of a proper goal, he may falter in his studies, not knowing what and when to improve. From here, we can already deduce that learning can happen on a scale beyond what learning at home can bring.

Without a rigid system, they have more flexibility to plan their time, critics argue. Why should students be forced to wake up so early in the morning? Education should either be about learning the content, or it should be to be fun, and expecting a child to follow a certain format would kill their interest to learn. Furthermore, it would be harmful for the student if they do not go through the proper courses of education. Sooner or later, these children have to integrate back into the system for their tertiary education, so it is vital for them to have the necessary academic requirements that are exclusive to the education system. The rigour of education needs to be put into place during their schooling so that a stronger foundation is built since young. This is essentially what tertiary institutions and employers are seeking for in today’s knowledge based world. Therefore, students of the current education system do benefit in increasing degrees as compared to their peers studying at home.

Opponents of the traditional schooling system argue that they should are able to focus better on the important subjects, instead of continually being affected negatively by other classmates. This distracts their intellectual learning. On the other hand, they do not recognise that nowadays, many platforms have been set up to ensure that children have the chance to report cases of negative influence from their peers. Furthermore, there is even an increasing chance of positive influence. When we look towards those who do better than ourselves and make them our role model, we also begin to learn from their studying methods to improve ourselves. This can help a child to develop intellectually by combining his strengths with others’. By contrast, a student who studies by himself lacks this positive external influence which is necessary for continual development. Schools nowadays can provide the teaching expertise as many education institutions set higher education standards for teachers. These teachers can then guide the students to rub others off positively. On top of that, there are great amounts of resources to help the child, and this can exist in tangible forms such as science lab apparatus and also intangible forms such as learning plans and studying programmes. This proves that holistic development has become a must in the education system, and traditional schooling methods better provides for this.

In the end, it is still clear that for a large majority of students, the way to go is still to undergo the traditional schooling process. What is to be expected are not the old-fashioned methods that parents would recall, but are improvised ways of teaching to suit the student as the system evolves. 

Any comments on the topic?

Citizen Journalism and its Impacts

Documenting the present, studying the past and foreseeing the new has always been the one area that Man has developed. From olden methods of carving incidents on cave walls to the current day Internet technology, things have progressed extremely quickly in the world of journalism. Today, as people gain more opportunities to take advantage of the vast technologies present, they start to use it to describe certain interesting incidents that occurred throughout their day, or even use it to express their opinions about the events in their country or the world. The revelation that nowadays, anywhere, anytime, people can post anything is catching fire, and this has created much craze about citizen journalists.

Before plunging directly into the impacts of this new trend, let us first examine the work of a citizen journalist. He is not trained officially in the art, but is instead part of the general population of people that have interest in a certain topic and have decided to air their views. He also writes on informal platforms, for instance through their blogs, where many people usually look towards. Although journalism is definitely not new, the process of citizen journalism is different. It usually depicts the certain event much more simply, and its research may not be as greatly done.

Then what are the different impacts of this novel idea? Pessimists argue that such websites allow for the propagation of certain opinions that are not well substantiated. This may erupt into assertion wars, with both sides merely asserting to the other that they are correct in every sense. What is so inherently harmful about this kind of discussion is that it breeds unhappiness, and given the fact that the Internet is less restrained than face-to-face interaction, fiercer arguments are formed. One good example would be STOMP in Singapore. It is dedicated to certain submissions of uncivil or discourteous behavior, which means that it gives way for multiple criticisms. On the other hand, this argument is hinged on the assumption that many people will accept such criticisms badly, or will follow through with such discussions. Many people in society are becoming much more civilized, with a majority able to tell what is reasonable and what is not. This means two things. First, more people will restrain themselves, and will not post such assertive comments because they know that they will be criticized for it. Second, people that see such insensitive and hurtful comments are willing to rise up against it. For instance, in the incident where the Permanent Resident student from NUS commented that “Singapore has more dogs than humans”, people immediately showed their disapproval towards him. This shows that society has the ability to discard and reject such harmful comments. Citizen journalism, in fact gives way for people to open others eyes to certain trends that are worth taking note of. If they are true, then people will definitely accept such comments, and this breeds more constructive comments.

Opponents of citizen journalism also comment that citizen journalism destroys the value of traditional journalism because its speed becomes the only reason why the latter is viewed more. They claim that therefore, people only see one side of things that people have chosen to talk about, and they do not see the well-vetted, researched topic that traditional media brings about. On the contrary, the entire reason for citizen journalism to become more speedy and far-reaching is that it can give a summary of events to more people, and a faster rate. In order to attract people to see their article, citizen journalists are obviously going to choose to comment on the more prevalent areas of the news and its main points, and this is sufficient. Once it piques the interest of readers, then the readers will have a greater incentive to look at the traditional journalist’s article, to understand the topic better. Its great speed and reach also allows for the expression of better values in society. For example, news of a catastrophe reaches people faster, and this means that help can be delivered faster. In the 2008 Mumbai bombings, it was a means through which people gathered information to create a more organized scene. In addition, since the general younger population is turning to such simpler ways of reading the news, it is much easier and effective if corporations and governments reach out to this new section of people through citizen journalism platforms. For example, back at home in Singapore, during the General Elections, the government used Facebook and Twitter to update voters of their newest developments, which means that more people are essentially going to be involved in politics at a young age, something that Singapore’s government seeks to do. Obviously, citizen journalism puts a different spin to things, making life more interesting and allowing people more opportunities to be active in modern society.

  Critics mention that people start to abuse the media more. One characteristic of citizen journalism is that it goes viral like a wild bushfire, which indicates that people tend to exploit certain aspects of the news, without considering the wider scheme of things. As a result, many people are wrongly drawn into such false concepts which breed a lack of trust in citizen journalism in the long run. However, it is exactly this characteristic that allows people to form more meaningful groups with a common interest. Citizen journalism makes use of the vast internet space to develop its own form of discussion, for example in Facebook groups or blogs. In such Web 2.0 technologies, people can respond to the posts made, and give their own opinions, and here is where more ideas are thrown into the mix for consideration. This marketplace of ideas gives space for many more ideas to be refined, so that a better understanding is held in this community of people with similar interests. For example, WikiNews is a web-based framework that runs parallel to the worldwide know Wikipedia. This gives opportunities for people who are excited by similar concepts to share their knowledge amongst each other. Therefore, this improves the understanding of many people.

In conclusion, the impact of citizen journalism is vast, and it will become a powerful tool if applied correctly. The questions to ask ourselves – how do we best mitigate the different forms of harms that may come about? And how do we allow ourselves to further boost and accentuate the benefits that are presented.

The war between Technology and Ethics

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein’s words are exceedingly true. Technology has unconsciously seeped into our lives, and this can have two effects. Technology can either boost the world’s development, but it can also give way for different people can make use of technology unfavourably. This topic essentially assumes that there is something inherent in technology that can cause people to become less ethical. Ultimately, technology can be characterised in three different ways. First, its advances are sudden and rapid. Second, it is pervasive, and can be very tempting to abuse. Third, it confers great power upon mankind. Technology, in fact, has not made us less ethical, but in fact can make us more ethical in some cases.

Technology is largely popular among technology, because it is constantly changing, and provides new forms of hope, and lifestyles for today’s people. As a result of this, people are not sure how they should treat certain new technological developments which exists in the grey areas. For example, the creation of the first cloned being, Dolly the Sheep in 1996 sparked off much controversy. People were worried that the technology created would be applied to humans, which would end up being very dangerous. However, history has shown that our current system of ethics is very reliable. The basic ethics in man has not altered much, as people are generally told not to harm people, and to respect the sanctity of human life. Just because technology changes, it does not mean that our basic ethics changes. Furthermore, technology affirms the general sentiment that ethics is kept. Shortly after Dolly was created, there was discussion between the developed countries at great length. In the end, there was an agreement in the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Cloning, calling for member nations not to infringe upon human dignity in any way. In addition, the use of medical technology has proved to be useful. As a result of vaccinations, the number of people dying from malaria has dropped from 20 million to a mere 8 million, and there has been an increase in the average life expectancy. This reflects the strength of Man’s ethics, as people reverted back to their fundamentals before delving into the usage of technologies in the grey areas.

Proponents of the topic would also argue that the fact that technology is all around us allows for great exploitation. Criminals would have more means to do unethical things, for example identity theft and data mining using computer programmes. This means that more people will be harmed by the lack of ethics. In addition, the fact that technology was the catalyst for such unethical actions would mean that technology is the cause of all this. However, the thing is that the benefits greatly outweigh the harms caused. Technological advances have created the opportunity for us to do much more. For example, the “pervasiveness” of information technology has allowed for the rapid dissemination of information. The Internet has provided Web 2.0 platforms to spring out, for example blogs, Facebook and Twitter. This allows for events from one end of the world to be seen at the other end. The fact that technology is the one being used shows that technology is merely a tool, and does not inherently change us. Conversely, criminals will not stop being criminals even though the Internet is not available for them. Furthermore, ethics is boosted through the available technology. For example, in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, social activism was given a leg up when the Internet allowed them to convince others to follow in their footsteps. Not only did it allow for more immediate aid for the people there, it also gave rise for willing donors who do not want to go all the way to Haiti. Evidently, the pervasiveness of technology can be turned into a concrete benefit, instead of making more people unethical.

 Some would assert that technology confers great power upon mankind. Technology is the means through which many people are harmed, and the degree of harm even increases as technology improves. For instance, the creation of the atomic bomb during the Second World War proved that technology is capable of making humans commit unethical acts. Thousands of people were affected by the radiation for countless generations as a result of Man’s actions, and this is clearly against one’s ethics. On the other hand, there are many possible explanations for the use of the atomic bomb, some of which are legitimate. When we look at the bigger picture, we note that the bomb was used mainly to stop Japan, a country who was also committing unethical acts. In addition, there can be different plans to ensure that such technology does not fall into the wrong hands. For example, smallpox, a deadly disease, can be used as a dangerous biochemical weapon, and is thus kept into two laboratories only around the world. These forms of check and balances can be used to ensure that unethical people are stopped, which in itself is an ethical act.

Technology has indeed pushed humans beyond the boundary, providing both opportunities benefit mankind and to the power misuse it, killing people. However, as of now, Man’s ethics has held out, ensuring that people are, in fact able to keep themselves in check. The question is – how long will this continue?

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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.