Anderson JC GP Prelims paper 1 2017

JC General Paper
  1. Should small countries be allowed to take the lead in global affairs?
  2. To what extent can the Arts effect positive social change today?
  3. ‘Experiences are more valuable than material possessions.’ Do you agree?
  4. ‘People in the workplace should embrace, rather than fear, technological advancements.’ Discuss.
  5. ‘The news today deals with what is popular, rather than what is important.’ How far do you agree with this statement?
  6. Evaluate the claim that a more connected world has resulted in greater divisions.
  7. ‘Public figures today are overly concerned about what people think of them.’ What is your view?
  8. Consider the view that there is no value in slowing down in today’s competitive world.
  9. Discuss the appeal and value of creativity in your society.
  10. Considering the increasing threat of terrorism, are governments justified in limiting people’s rights?
  11. To what extent is animal testing acceptable in scientific research?
  12. ‘Economic development is favoured at the expense of the welfare of people.’ How true is this of your society?
Temasek JC GP Prelim Paper 1 2017

Temasek JC GP Prelim Paper 1 2017

JC General Paper

Temasek Junior College 8807 H1 General Paper Paper 1 2017

  1. Can government surveillance eradicate the threat of terrorism?
  2. Examine the claim that globalization creates equal opportunities for all.
  3. ‘The government is not doing enough to support local sportsmen in your society.’ What is your view?
  4. To what extent is a universal language desirable?
  5. Should people in your society be fearful of the future?
  6. ‘Graciousness is lost as society progresses.’ Is this an accurate reflection of your society?
  7. How far do you agree that technology gives us greater control in life?
  8. Consider the view that what is posted online is all talk and no action.
  9. ‘Failure should never be acceptable.’ Discuss.
  10. Do you agree that only parents should be allowed to discipline their children?
  11. Is volunteerism always good?
  12. ‘The world today values appearance over substance.’ Is this a fair comment?
The value of humility in modern society

The value of humility in modern society

JC General Paper

Came across this question in class which stumps a lot of my students in answering this… It seems so contradictory right… to be humble in our modern day?

Ok let’s see what are some characteristics of our modern society first. We are driven by our pursuit of material goals, increasingly status conscious and technologically driven. So where does the value of humility fit in?

1) Humility allows us to lower ourselves and to examine our shortcomings. This virtue is especially important when it comes to dealing with business and in reflection to improve ourselves. In this modern world where it is very competitive, it is advisable for us to always examine our business but it should not hit the point of analysis paralysis.

2) We should dare to show and flaunt our wealth, status or even ability to others in order to stand out in this competitive world, otherwise how would people even recognize and take notice of us? If we do desire social status or even respect in society, the easiest and fastest way is to of course demonstrate our signs of success and flaunt wealth. Many have turned to that on social media seen from posts from #richkidsofinstagram etc. Besides such frivolous way of gaining respect, a more important reason would be for marketing needs. Marketing needs could refer to “selling” ourselves to companies in order to get that coveted job or to sell products and services to encourage consumers to purchase. One would need to “scream” in order to stand out for others to even take notice of us. Humility definitely has no value and place.

3) Humility could be expected from leaders as they are placed in a position to serve others and to demonstrate empathy. An arrogrant leader would be a definite turn off to most people as we definitely would not want our leaders to come from a moral high ground or to even impose their power, status and influence on us. Examples of such leaders would be Mother Theresa, Ghandi just to name a few. But we should take note that humility could also backfire, especially if one presents oneself to be too meek, it could be a sign of weakness and a lack of confidence. This could bring others to exploit the situation.

To what extent is humility really relevant in our modern society? It would be dependent on the context of the societies that we are in and what is the purpose we are utilising it for 🙂

 

 

Youth Unemployment (Argh!!!)

Youth Unemployment (Argh!!!)

JC General Paper

This post is a continuation of the previous blog post where we would examine the situation of youth unemployment in developed nations. But first let us understand a little bit of context of how youth unemployment comes about… Well, many have said that it is due to the structural changes of the economy, ie basically a mismatch of the skills of the workers and the economy. How did these structural changes even come about? It could be due to technological developments that displace many from their jobs due to automation, and of course the need for more specialized skills in this technologically-driven economy.

Let’s talk a look at the youth unemployment rate in Asia for a start: the highest would be Hong kong at around 15%, followed by Taiwan at 11%, South Korea at near 10%… where do you think Singapore fare? Well a quick search indicates about 6% as of 2016-2017. Singapore has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world by international standards, be it for youth or general unemployment rates even if they have been creeping up recently due to structural changes here. Life for these youths appear to be so challenging and bleak that there is a new term to describe their situation in Korea -” Hell Korea”. For those who are interested, you could take a look at this video interview where young Koreans talk about their future and whether they desire to stay there in the long run:

What is the purpose of this post? It is to highlight that the world’s economic structure has been changing fast, and it is a reminder for all young people to change and adapt in accordance to it. Your academic qualifications are no longer enough to bring you to the place and the company that you desire to work in: Young Graduated & Unemployed.

Employers expect you to have some related experience to the job. Well, I guess this has been what we have been waiting for, the day where grades no longer define us… unfortunately, it is the family background, connections and opportunities that would define and divide us increasingly…

 

Let’s talk about sense of belonging…

Let’s talk about sense of belonging…

JC General Paper

Recently I have been hooked on this youtube video: 

What caught me in my tracks was the lyrics of the song, other than the composition of the song. The lyrics go like this, “Who could bring me to fly high in the sky? … Maybe I don’t belong here and have to leave; enough with the suffering just kill me heartlessly; it is the centre of dreams yet it is out of reach; it’s the holy land to reach your dreams yet it is so bewildering; many were killed in the cruelty of reality here and disappeared; so many of them were fooled into the traps here yet all that remain are lifeless corpse.”

I could totally identify with the lyrics being a young adult myself who have many friends who are currently at the crossroads of life, struggling to find a job that could balance their dreams and the responsibility of feeding their families… on top of having to deal with the crushing expectations that society has of us, and not to mention that the job market isn’t exactly favourable right now. This has gotten me thinking about the lives of the younger Singaporeans, about our generation and whether we feel a sense of belonging and that we would have a stake of the city’s dreams and prosperity.

I do not know about you, but what do you make out of your future? Do you feel and could identify with the protagonist in the music video about how city life could be a place where many are seduced to come, and leave feeling disillusioned? City could be a place where dreams are crushed instead of fulfilling them?

Let’s talk about our future! (the youths specifically)

Let’s talk about our future! (the youths specifically)

JC General Paper

Once in a while, A level questions would like to test something hypothetical, about the future and whether prospects are going to be more optimistic or pessimistic. Of course, most of the focus would be on the youths since they are the future. It would be advisable to attempt questions that are more general, as it allows you to have greater scope and breadth in the essay.

Well the future would be more optimistic: Poverty rates in the developing nations have been dropping; medical technology has been improving to eradicate diseases through vaccinations; creation of more jobs and opportunities through technology developments, lower start up cost for businesses with technology as a leveller; the world being more open to peace, negotiation and diplomacy;

The future could be more pessimistic: greater uncertainty and disruption due to technological advancement(artificial intelligence in displacing workers); job security would be a thing of the past, rising youth unemployment in the developed countries; fiscal imprudence and debt crisis in Europe and USA; rising income inequality; a more volatile and risky geopolitical world that is open to nuclear warfare and terrorist attacks

Thus from what we see, there remains a lot of potential for the world moving forward, but these potential can always be thwarted with these threats as well. How we are moving ahead would definitely depend on the youths to decide already and the type of government that they are electing to mitigate these crises!

Let’s talk about poverty

Let’s talk about poverty

JC General Paper

As we all know, essay questions on poverty are usually popular among students. It is an easy topic that usually asks about the reasons for poverty, whether this issue can be resolved, and whether people are poor due to their own personal failings.

With that, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why ppl are poor… Of course, one has to understand that world developments are not even, and that there is a need to discuss both relative and absolute poverty, and to differentiate reasons for poverty in the first and the third world.

First world context: Poverty can always happen due to the inability to keep up with the high cost of living, personal failings such as being lazy, engaging in vices such as gambling or being addicted to alcoholism, external and unfortunate circumstances such as racial discrimination, being afflicted with a terminal illness or even being born with disabilities that cut one off opportunities

Third world context: Poverty in this sense would be in absolute terms, define to be living less than USD1.25 a day. Reasons could be due to corruption of government, presence of incompetent government that could not harness the resources of the place efficiently, cultural stereotypes such as the caste system that entraps people’s minds, natural disasters and even the presence of war.

As we could see, the reasons for why an individual is poor are aplenty.  Could we possibly say that one is poor due to their own failings? Poverty is a very complex and entrenched problem that we see in our world today, it is systemic and could possibly take generations to eradicate it. At times, an individual could also be powerless to deal with the situations that they are born into. Thus, to what extent is really poverty the fault of an individual?

For societies that follow a fair and meritocratic system, should we take on a more compassionate and humane approach towards people who are poor?

Let me know what your thoughts are on this issue! I would love to hear from you 🙂

 

What distinguishes a truly great work of art from a merely average one?

What distinguishes a truly great work of art from a merely average one?

JC General Paper

A truly great work of art: ability to attract the attention of its audience, invoking passion and strong emotion in them while at the same time, allowing for artists to disseminate their message clearly through their work. It may not necessarily be in terms of pricing. An expensive piece of art may not be truly great if it does not fulfil these conditions.

First and foremost, an artwork must have the basic quality of being aesthetically pleasing in order to make a strong impression on its viewers. Form, colour, composition and the like are a testament to an artist’s mastery over his craft. It is such qualities which invite viewers to analyze the artwork at a closer level. FX Harsono’s installation of butterflies arranged as fine dining food was only so successful because of the artist’s tasteful arrangement of the dead insects in a tidy fashion, emulating the arrangement of food in a restaurant.  Without this, the work would have been considered a hideous desecration of nature, abusing carcasses of life forms for the sake of art. Even in the modern art world where installations are the most prevalent medium, artists still respect the very basic needs of composition and form in the creation of their artworks.

Indeed, strong and powerful symbolic elements are required to be present in an artwork should it even desire to be considered a great work in the first place. American artist Joseph Beuys often made use of felt and fat in his performance pieces to symbolize warmth and a sense of claustrophobia; the use of these materials eventually became a symbolic trademark of all his famous artworks such as ” I like America and America Likes me”. The symbolic value of aesthetics enables an artist to use his artwork to relate with the audience, even with those who are not practitioners of art.

A controversial side to assessing the greatness of art lies in the name of the artist affecting the value of his works. The public and even members of the artistic community are sometimes guilty of the over-glorification of works done by famous artists. For instance many of Andy Warhol’s artworks gained much attention and acclaim despite their being variations of his past works. His prints of celebrities are mere variations of his Campbell soup prints along with his various Mao Tse Tung colour renditions. Critiques and viewers often overanalyze Warhol’s works and those of other artists, such as Damien Hirst’s display of dead animals in tanks. The name of the artist does in fact affect our opinion of their artworks, giving them far more credit than they are worth.

Therefore, an artist’s skill, concept and even the era he was born in would determine the very success of his works while those who fail to meet these requirements would eventually become nameless and unrecognized…

Ps: note that this is just a snapshot of some of the pointers for this essay… it has been contributed by an ex student whose essay was published in his school handbook.

Responsibility of Protecting the Environment

Responsibility of Protecting the Environment

JC General Paper

Environment is a common and easy essay question that could potentially come out for the exams… Students should always analyze their essays from a stakeholder’s perspective to give a more holistic evaluation.

Developed countries

Governments in developed countries have the necessary skills, influence and resources to aid the protection of the environment. They would have the financial means to invest in necessary science and technology which could improve the environment. At the same time, they would also possess political clout to enact policies to force companies to comply with their environmental standards. Education and campaigning to change the mindset of the people towards the environment would be within their means as people are generally more educated and aware.

Businesses could practise corporate social responsibility, and stand to gain since green consumers are more likely to purchase their products. Consumers are more concerned with the origins of their products they buy today. As such, MNCs could influence these green consumers to raise awareness about environmental issues using their products.

Individuals could make a difference by starting with themselves first. A small step could go a long way such as supporting Earth Hour or even car pooling.

NGOs no doubt would have more political clout than individuals, and do not have the same restrictions that are placed upon government agencies. They do not have to balance certain commitments such as the living standards in the country. This would result in them having greater flexibility when it comes to their operations and should be able to achieve more. \

Developing countries

Governments have the sole responsibility for the enactment and enforcement of policies to protect the environment. Unfortunately, their main priority is to ensure economic growth rather than the protection of the environment. Developing countries are more likely to have unstable government and corruption is usually rampant making it difficult to care for the environment. E.g Shell engaged in dodgy/shady dealings with the government officials in Nigeria in order to gain a foothold in the country.

Businesses are usually in the primary and secondary sector which focus on the harvesting of raw materials and manufacturing. These are highly damaging to the environment as the mining process results in large amounts of pollutants and waste. Many of their factories are owned by MNCs, and they would have little say in the production methods used.

Individuals concern would be to earn sufficient money to stay alive, they would not mind harnessing the earth for the raw materials or resorting to more efficient methods of clearing the land if they could help to save some money for them.

Considering the situation in both developed and developing countries, who do you think should be responsible for the environment?

Singapore Budget 2017- What it means for Singaporeans?

Singapore Budget 2017- What it means for Singaporeans?

JC General Paper

Future Economy: What is in store for all of us?

Recently, news have been focusing on changes in technology that bring about new prospects for certain segments of the population but disenfranchises others. Some would call it the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. This is a situation in which disruptive technologies streamline processes making work more efficient and productive, leading to increasing number of Singaporeans being structurally unemployed. One instance could be seen in the transportation industry with the entry of Grab and Uber, reducing the need for traditional taxi drivers who would not embrace technology. Of course, this situation would be made worst when Uber and Grab introduce driverless cars, eliminating drivers as a viable occupation for many people.  As such, the Singapore state appeals for Singapore citizens to embrace technological change. This point on embracing technological change is also highlighted on the Singapore Budget website.

Singapore plans to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution by becoming a Smart Nation. The Smart Nation initiative aims to rally the collective efforts of people, businesses and government to work together to support better living, create more opportunities, and support stronger communities by harnessing info-comm technologies, networks and big data… As such, this year’s budget emphasizes a lot on helping SMEs expand overseas especially into regional markets through the help of government funding, and of course to embrace technology.

What exactly is the main message of the budget? I think it serves one aim, to inform Singaporeans that their jobs are no longer secure in this uncertain and volatile economy, and that they would need to take action right now if they would like to income-proof their earnings. This would be in terms of being more open to technological changes in the workplace. Of course, the budget sends a strong message that the Singapore government is aware of these structurally changes and challenges in the economy, and that they would support Singaporeans as much as possible.

If you are interested in more budget discussion, you could keep up with the discussions about Budget 2017 on https://www.reach.gov.sg/budget2017;

 http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2017/home.aspx;

https://www.facebook.com/REACHSingapore/

PS: This article is not meant to be an analysis of the budget 2017, as I’m not tutoring economics. It is meant as a context for students to understand the Singapore’s economy and to think of the various social issues, and how policies affect various stakeholders in society.