I saw this on Facebook today HERE.
According to MOE Science Teachers, the rules of English punctuation are different in Scientific English. Can MOE provide citations to manuals of Scientific English that state the rule as follows: In scientific english, commas are not required to indicate a pause in reading? I have heard of scientific jargon but I have never heard of scientific grammar rules. In their effort to differentiate students... the A from the A*, teachers have gone beyond testing what was never taught. They're now testing wrong grammar that was never taught.
This would be funny if PSLE stakes weren't so high... if our children didn't get hurt (and not understand what they had done wrong)... if children who write perfectly good English weren't branded merely "A calibre" and not "A* calibre... and thenceforth shunted to a lower class (just because they didn't know wrong grammar). Seriously, if you're gonna use a particular question as a DIFFERENTIATING QUESTION, you should make sure that it's a GOOD item. It's not funny. It's a national tragedy because these things happen in schools right across the nation.
Coming on the heels of a parliamentary pronouncement by the Senior Minister of State, Indranee Rajah, that tuition adds no value to students, this only shows MOE's capacity for denial - which I wrote about HERE. This capacity is so great that MOE actually denies the rules of English Grammar and makes up their own.
(1) Imagine the scenario of a first man telling a second man as they both get slowly dehydrated in the hot desert, "It's not hot. It's all in your mind. It's actually freezing cold." Clearly, the first man is delusional. The freezing cold is all in HIS mind.
(2) Similarly, MOE (through Indranee Rajah) tells us, "Tuition is unnecessary. It's all in your mind." Clearly, MOE is delusional. The "unnecessary" is all in THEIR mind.
(3) Similarly, MOE is telling this parent of a child in a brand name primary school, "The need for a comma to indicate a pause is unnecessary. It's all in your mind." Clearly, MOE is delusional. That commas are unnecessary in scientific speak, is all in THEIR mind.
For the record, my kids had no tuition. However, Little Boy wasn't taught what he needed to know to tackle PSLE. He self-studied using materials I imported from all over the world. The materials and the teaching given by his teachers were not enough.
It is IMPOSSIBLE for teachers to teach the new PSLE syllabus effectively in classes of 40 using crappy textbooks. We ask TOO MUCH of our teachers. Many cannot THEMSELVES cope with the Higher Order Thinking questions. This stresses teachers too. Why expect teachers to teach what they do not master? Why expect our kids to do what the teachers cannot do? I would like to see every primary school teacher take the PSLE every 3 years to see if they can score A* too.
If you can't read the post above, I have magnified the question and reproduced the text below in large font.
This P6 science question is taken from a paper that is set by a local brand name primary school. The majority of the students who took this test gave the answer as (4). The science teacher insisted that the answer is (2). The reason given was that sentence D should be interpreted to mean that only light energy is given off when an electric current passes through it.
The children, as well as many other adults who are well versed in the English language, unanimously agreed that the students were correct to interpret the sentence as meaning that the bulb will give off light energy (though it does not rule out other forms of energy) only if an electric current passes through it (so if there is no electric current, the bulb will not give off light energy.
The HOD called to clarify that her teacher (and therefore the dept) is correct. She apparently said that there is nothing wrong with the statement, and that it is not meant to be read in an 'English' way, but rather in a 'scientific' way. She then proceeded to read the sentence aloud, pausing after the word 'only'. When it was pointed out to her that there is a need for a comma after 'only' if it is to be read with a pause, she insisted that that was the 'scientific' way of reading the sentence, and went on to qualify that laymen would not be able to distinguish between the scientific reading and the English reading, but that the students, having studied the subject for four years, were expected to tell the difference. According to her, this would set the A* students apart from the A students.
Since when has our English language developed a 'scientific' dialect?! And if you cannot apply standard English language rules to reading the questions of a paper set in English, then perhaps we need to clarify that the paper is written in Scientific-English instead? What kind of nonsense is this?