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Schooling and Education for Globalizazion: Prescriptive Experimentation of Education Change in Singapore

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This book is about Singapore's experimentation with the risks and uncertainties of globalization. As with experiments and experimentation, there are many pathways to go about “testing” and finding “solutions” to a problem. While the nature of experiment and experimentation is such that there is no guarantee of success, even if there is, there could be unintended consequences or failures, the argument presented in this book is that Singapore's experimentation with globalization is performed with calculation what I call “tactics” and “tactical globalization” to work with the benefits that globalization brings and against the risks and dangers of globalization.

Beginning this chapter, the focus is on schooling and education as the site of experimentation, and education policy as a tool for harnessing the experiment. Because schools are disciplinary institutions where behaviors, dispositions, ethics are regulated, cultivated and shaped, experimentation with the cultivation of the kind of subjectivities an education system works to produce is one “calculated” way of preparing young generation of Singaporeans for the new globalized economy.

Contradictory as it may sound, Singapore's experimentation with schooling and education for globalization can be described as “prescriptive experimentation”. This is because in Singapore, the way education policy is formulated and implemented has always been top-down and uncontested. There is an uncompromising, authoritative and mandating aspect to education policy-making where policy articulation carries with it disciplinary effects for subject formation and the economy. In this chapter, I attempt to study the “prescriptive experimentation” of the working of education policy in constituting education change in Singapore. It would be far too ambitious, however, to detail every single education policy that has contributed to Singapore's education landscape in a chapter. Hence, I narrow the focus to the Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) policy implemented in 1997 and a few other significant education changes that follow on after the TSLN policy implementation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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