Being Educated.

by Patrick Liew on January 3, 2014

As we embark on a new year of study, it bodes well to reexamine our understanding of what it means to be educated.

In particular, we need to
broaden  our understanding of  intelligence, meritocracy and success.

We need to redefine them so as to help our students meet the changing needs of society and thrive in the brave new world.


We need to recognize that there are multiple intelligences and mental intelligence is just one of them.

Moral intelligence is just as important as intelligence of the intellect. Altruistic intelligence can be more important than logical intelligence. Taking action is more important than just acquiring information.

Every student has a unique set of gifts, talents and interests. We need to help him develop his strengths and pursue positive passion and aspiration.

By helping him to expand his potential and leverage on his strengths, he will be able to optimize his contribution to the people and environment around him.

Therefore, we need to develop the student in a wholistic and balanced
way. He must know how to research, analyse and apply knowledge even in the unfamiliar settings of a fast changing digital economy.


Meritocracy should not therefore be measured by academic results and achievements. In particular, it should never recognise and reinforce students who game examination system to achieve good grades.

It should also not be based on forging ahead at the expense of others and neither should it be about achieving a higher academic ranking and leaving others behind in life.

In the process of producing better results, the student should also reach out to help others raise their level of performance and accomplishment.
He should share in the responsibility of helping others who do not enjoy the same position and advantages as himself.

We should commend and reward those who stand out and stay ahead on the basis of their talents, results and hard work. However, it does not mean that those who are behind them have a negative attitude, are not talented, and are not working hard to improve their achievements.

We should not leave any students behind and we should help them find ways to catch up and improve themselves.

There should be different tracks to help every student achieve success.

Even if he is a late developer or has been sidetracked in his growth, he should be able to rejoin the others and achieve the best possible outcome. He is able to pursue different careers in his lifetime and make a success out of them.

The purpose of meritocracy is to unite and not to divide the people, to advance their interests and not to serve any personal interests. It is to to raise the tide for all – and not for any exclusive groups- to achieve a better standard of living.


Success should not just have one definition. It should not be defined by the student’s school and his academic results.

Success is not just about having more personal income, possession, power, prestige and position. More importantly, it is about how the student will make full use of what he has so as to help others and improve the environment.

Success should have  many definitions and be defined from the perspective of every student’s unique personality, advantage, and aspiration. It has to be measured from the benefits generated by the student for the economy, community and society. It’s also about how he will go out of the way to put to right many of the wrongs that crossed his path as well as the wrongs that are out there in the world.


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