The argument that it expands the vocabulary of primary school students and naturally improves the readability and effectiveness of their writing is the reason why primary school English in Singapore is as focused on grammar, vocabulary and technicalities.And while the system certainly has its merits, is the practice of assessing students’ writing abilitiessole on the usage of complex words, similes, metaphorsandstrict but uninspired grammar in primary schools really killing creative writing in Singapore and interest in the English language in general?
There’s no denying that the system does an excellent job of producing students who are highly competent in technical skills. However, the fear of failing to meet the grading criteria in examinations raises barriers against creativity in the classroom is very real. How many students would try to be original if it meant risking their grades and chances at success in life? And if students are resorting to memorizing “model” essays, word for word, to be regurgitated during their examination, I think it is a clear sign that something is seriously wrong.
A strict focus on grammar, vocabulary and technicalities in creative writing in Singapore is unnatural to language
It would’ve also prevented a lot of amazing literary classics from getting published. While it is necessary to enforce a certain level of standardisation for a language to be readily comprehensible to a group of language users, enforcing toostrict a focus on grammar, vocabulary and “technical” writing is counterproductive to creative writing – a sentiment that is even advocated by many of the greatest creative writers in the English language?
Mark Haddon’s breathtaking “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, a story told from the first-person perspective of a young boy suffering from Asperger’s syndrome,is the perfect example of how the use of simple languagebut with deep insight and empathy into the lives of the characters in the story can make for incredible storytelling.
The ability to craft a masterful piece of storytelling requires the writer to learn how to connect the dots between wide-ranging ideas and concepts, which are drawn from general knowledge as much as using one’s creativity. Classics like H. Rider Haggard, where the main protagonist himself describes himself as a “man of simple words”, are other examples of timeless literary pieces written using a simple prose but with incredible detail to characters, scenes and sequence of events.
Shakespeare himself was in the habit of coining new words and experimenting with new ideas, breaking many contemporary conventions to create some of the most amazing works in the English language. And the fact that English today has evolved so significantly from how it was written and spoken 600 years ago is proof that language is more versatile and fluid than the current system suggests. The teaching of creative writing in Singapore should be taking pointers from these examples to put our primary school students on the road to writing more creatively.
At the very least, a higher emphasis on creative writing in Singapore can help students develop stronger ideals and empathy for others
The current scientific consensus that creativity cannot be taught but only but only encouraged is also directly contradicted by a system that harshly punishes failure, which only discourages the development of fundamental behaviors and thought processes that characterize creative, innovative individuals.Rightfully so,many parents are also concerned that primary education in Singapore might be stifling their children’s freedom of expression and to find real happiness in life, as well as the ability to empathize with others through their ability to connect the dots in the sequence of events in other people’s lives.