‘The world would be a better place if more political leaders were women.’ What is your view?

JC General Paper

‘The world would be a better place if more political leaders were women.’ What is your view?

Question Analysis:

Female stereotype- more emotional; more nurturing and caring

Male stereotype: Stronger; more aggressive to push through policies; less emotional

Better place- economic prosperity; technological advancement; greater peace and prosperity for all; increased medical advancement to ensure

Some political leaders to take note: Aung San Suu Kyi; Margaret Thatcher; Angela Merkel

UK was once the ‘sick man of Europe’: Margaret Thatcher was known as the iron lady who can push through difficult times

Some possible arguments:

Men have greater tendencies towards aggressive acts that may spark war or even abuse of human rights (genocide). History has shown that men sparked destructive wars more compared to women. Examples of such dictators include: Stalin, Hilter, and even Pol Pot. This could potentially be due to the higher testosterone levels of the men.

Men are believed to be less emotional compared to women; hence they are able to base decisions based on rational thinking. Rational thinking is especially important during crisis times of a nation, and to look at things objectively. However, rational thinking should not take precedence all the time. Decisions should be based on emotions as well.

Female political leaders are believed to be more nurturing and hence better able to develop people under them/mentor them into better individuals and leaders. Female leaders are able to use their emotions to make decisions, have people’s welfare more at heart, to ensure a more nurturing workplace and society for all.

Females are less corrupted than men. But I’m sure there are black sheep among the females. Marcos’ wife has a large collection of shoes- 1000. This corruption scandal shook the country so much so that they set up a museum to house the shoes,  just to serve as a reminder to the public to be aware of the politicians’’ actions and potential corruption.

 Evaluation:

A good student should not just be arguing whether political leaders are better if they are female or male. He or she should take a step back and ponder about the larger issue- what kind of leaders can actually make the world a better place for all?

Should political leaders be decided on a gender bias basis? What matters is the innate quality of the leaders? A good leader should be one who has foresight, strong moral ethics and the leadership qualities.

PS: If you are interested in how GP is being taught in lessons, please have a look at our upcoming crash course in May.

Here’s the link: https://theculture.sg/2016/03/gp-crash-course/

To what extent is it possible to make the punishment fit the crime?

JC General Paper

To what extent is it possible to make the punishment fit the crime? 

This question is on the topic Crime and Punishment, and this is a pretty simple question for the A levels. Students need to be aware of the different goals of punishment such as for retribution, reformation and in extreme situations to incapacitate the criminals from ever committing the crime. Justice is to be administered out in the process, but how do we actually ensure that justice is being served in the right proportion? Let’s take a look at some of the issues that the judicial system may face while deciding on the sentence to mete out to the criminals.

Issues to consider:

  • The simplest way to make the punishment fit the crime is to follow the retributive goal of an eye for an eye. For instance, if the perpetrator stole $100, an effective punishment is to take $100 from the perpetrator. In view of this approach, one should always consider if this punishment would be an effective deterrent to stop the criminals from committing the crime? However, we should always take note that this punishment does not take into account resentment on the part of the victim, whether the victim feels compensated enough?
  • From an environmental perspective, we can consider the recent Volkswagen scandal on cheating emission. They have been fined for their “crime” of not fulfilling the environmental conditions necessary for the cars. However, one has to consider if imposing an economic cost just the end to the crime? The ones who are responsible for the cheating emission scandal got away scot-free, the liability is on the company. In such a situation, does the economic fine justify the crime? Also, it is difficult to pinpoint the real economic cost to the environment.
  • Another perspective to take a look at would be from the social perspective. How does a society like India deal with the rampant rape crimes? If we apply the retributive aspect here, would it fit the crime? There was a recent news about how an Indian guy raped a girl from a village, and the girl’s relatives took revenge by raping a girl from the perpetuator’s family. In such a situation, won’t the retributive goal of punishment be totally absurd?

All in all, we should always note that it is not easy to always make the punishment fits the crime. Sometimes, the crime is too hard to value by the judiciary system as the impact of the crime is widespread.

Consider the view that spoken language is more important than the written form.

JC General Paper

Consider the view that spoken language is more important than the written form.

This is one of the easier questions to attempt for this year, as it is just a simple comparison between the spoken language and the written form.

So what are some of the benefits of the spoken language?

  • We are able to decipher from the intonation the mood of the person delivering the speech. Written language is just presented in a very neutral form, which makes it hard to decipher the mood of the person. The tone is harder to pick up through written language, and interpretation can always be inaccurate. Through speech, we can always tell if the speaker is being sarcastic or even exasperated with us.
  • Spoken language is able to bring up the emotions of the speaker better, enabling the speaker to connect with his audience on a more personal level compared to the writer. In fact, many politicians are great oratory speakers who can rally the crowd together for a common purpose. Examples of politicians who are charismatic and convincing are Lee Kuan Yew, Obama and even Hitler.
  • Spoken language is a very economic form of writing that allows one to express their thoughts, similar to the written form. Spoken language through the advancement of technology can be easily edited especially if they are expressed through videos. This is similar to the written form where proofreading makes it easy to edit flaws and inaccuracies in writing.

What are some of the benefits of the written language?

  • Written language is deemed to be more personal in the context of courtship than speech. It appears to be more sincere to girls as it shows careful thought in the choice of words when crafting a love poetry compared to an oral declaration of love. After all, actions speak louder than words right?
  • Written language in the form of books/ letters is a good way of passing down information from generations to generations, especially in areas in where technology is not easily accessible.

Why should we be concerned with current affairs when most of them will soon be forgotten?

JC General Paper

Why should we be concerned with current affairs when most of them will soon be forgotten?

This question requires students to think and assess about the importance of current affairs – whether there is any point in knowing and even being affected by them since these news will be outdated soon. After all, we live in a fast changing world where information gets released quickly and get outdated almost instantaneously. If this is the situation that we are facing, then should we all still be concerned with current affairs? What are some criteria that will make one be concerned? Must the current affairs be relevant to our daily lives? What about those news that do not affect us directly- should we still take notice and be relevant? Finally, what constitutes “current”? What is the time frame for this?

Some plausible arguments that you can consider:

  1. We live in a globalized world, current affairs affect almost every single one of us, whether they have a direct or indirect impact on our lives. Even if these current affairs are soon to be forgotten, we can all have a learning point. E.g. news about calamities – teaches one to emphasize with others; to value life and to care for others especially in time in need. It serves as a point of connection for humanity.
  2. Current affairs that have relevance to our lives should not be so easily forgotten especially if their impacts/ ramifications are widespread. For instance, the 2008 financial crisis that left many in the US homeless and jobless will not be easily forgotten due to the emotional and financial hurt that it caused many people. In addition, the lessons of the financial crisis can always serve as a learning point for the government and economists, to decipher on how to better manage such crisis. This is similar to important political news as well.
  3. Current affairs that are unimportant such as the latest celebrity news may not have much relevance to our lives, and as such, there is no point in trying to be concerned with them. After all, celebrity news is usually tabloid materials, which makes one question the validity of the news. Why should we all be concerned with their latest break up or hook up? (especially since the purpose of these news is just to entertain and to stir up gossip to increase the viewership of the press).
  4. Ordinary mundane current affairs such as the latest happenings around our estate are still important to help us keep a sense of rootedness and belongings. Yes these news do get phased out really soon, but at least it gives people a sense of their identity. For instance, many big countries have regional newspapers to inform people of the latest news in order for them to keep abreast of information. E.g. Wuhan newspapers frequently reports on cases of crimes, weather so that the people can take note and take precautions.

 

 

 

How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion?

JC General Paper

 How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion?

Students should consider whether it is possible to censor off these unpopular views given how advanced technology is nowadays. Even if it is possible for the state to monitor and censor off these views, it is going to be a very tedious process of monitoring and expensive at the same time.  Students should also consider the benefits of opening up these views for discussion. How will society benefit from it?

Define terms

Unpopular views- views that are so “unpopular”; obscure that nearly no one knows about it OR views that are considered controversial/ against the mainstream

Some plausible arguments to consider:

  1. Unpopular views should be open up to discussion to help the growth and maturity of the society over time. Unpopular views in Singapore such as LGBT and the CPF issue should be debated so that we can see the society’s consensus on these controversial issues. At the same time, it helps individuals to be more open-minded and accepting of individuals who are different. If we are afraid of opening up a Pandora’s Box of social ills with these controversial issues, we can always ensure that these views are talked about in a measured and controlled manner. For instance, we always have the Hong Lim Park where we can discuss these issues. (However, we should note that free speech is not always evident here, as your names have to be recorded and you would need to apply for a permit to speak at the Speaker’s Corner).

 

  1. Unpopular views that are released at an inappropriate time should not be opened for discussion at all, especially when the country is not ready to deal with it. A case in point would be the insensitivity of Amos Yee releasing a video defaming the respected late Lee Kuan Yew while the nation was moaning about his death. Unpopular views regarding the tyranny of his rule will only serve to tear the social fabric of the nation apart. The timing is not ripe for Singapore society to debate and discuss about LKY’s rule and the type of political system we would like moving forward.

 

  1. It is getting increasingly harder to censor these obscure or even controversial views because of the advancement of technology- especially that of social media. Given how quickly messages and tweets can be passed around through social media, it is very hard to monitor individuals’ posts. In fact, social media liberates and empowers individuals to voice out their opinions, and given how vocal our youths are, it is only a matter of time that unpopular views surface in the media. When that happens, it may potentially serve as a learning point for society on how to deal with it.

Education should only be concerned with what is useful in life. Discuss.

JC General Paper

Education should only be concerned with what is useful in life. Discuss.

I would expect that this is a very popular examination question for this year. Education has always been a favourite topic for the cohort.

Define terms

Education: seen as a route to have a better life, to make more money. Usually Asian parents are very concerned with education compared to Western parents. They are so fixated on education that stringent mothers are termed “tiger mom”.

What is considered useful in life- making money (pragmatic view); having good relationships; the need for spiritual development (altruistic view)

What do we really need in life? Students can refer to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a good point for reference.

Some points that students can consider:

  1. Education should of course equip students with the right skills and knowledge for their jobs.
  1. Education should not just be for pragmatic purposes. The value of education is to equip people with the right skills and morals to conduct themselves for the greater society.
  1. Information gets outdated very quickly in this knowledge-based economy. It is highly likely that students are prepping for jobs that do not even exist or even studying information that could be outdated for the industry when they join the workforce. If that is the case, education should always broaden itself to instilling skills and values to students.
  1. The intangibles in life such as the attainment of good relationships and the need for spiritual development cannot be taught through a formal education setting. The most that schools can do is to infuse more collaborative projects with one another and to equip students with some tips on interpersonal skills through modular talks and training.

 

 

How far is increased prosperity for all a realistic goal in your society?

JC General Paper

How far is increased prosperity for all a realistic goal in your society?

For the examination of this question, students will have to consider 3 main points: increased prosperity, realistic, your society (Singapore context). Students should also note that there is an absolute term “for all” which has to be carefully considered and evaluated at the end of the essay. How realistic is it really to ensure that everyone will have an increased standard of living/ greater wealth? One should always consider the fact that not every individual in Singapore is interested in attaining increased wealth- there are definitely black sheep who just want to be idle, be engaged and addicted on vices like drugs and gambling. The focus of the essay then should be whether there is equal opportunity through our meritocratic system to help everyone attain prosperity.

Some points that you can potentially consider in your essay:

  1. Singapore adopts a meritocracy culture, in which everyone is given fair and equal opportunities to succeed in life. Students can talk about the compulsory education for everyone here. Every student is valued and if a student can excel in their studies, they can always go for a scholarship or even a bursary award. These are given independent of one’s background, awarding of such incentives is based on one’s merit. For the lower income families, there is presence of tuition grants even in the university. Not to forget we also have free public libraries in Singapore where any hungry individual can visit to borrow books to harness one’s knowledge and improve themselves.
  2. One can always improve one’s income and employability through the many government schemes to help one to be in the cutting edge of society. For instance, we have the WDA which offers highly subsided training up to 90%. Employees can always make use of such schemes to increase their skills and to improve their pay after the upgrading.
  3. There are systems in place to ensure that there is a redistribution of wealth to the lower incomes in Singapore. These people can have increased prosperity. Examples include our GST vouchers and our progressive income tax system. Welfare payments by the government though few compared to welfare states are still instances in which the government tries to reduce the income gap and to transfer some prosperity to the lower income.
  4. Students ultimately should note that every individual is in charge of their own prosperity as no one owns them a living. Some people are not driven, ambitious, and are willing to waste their time and effort on vices. In such situation, should the state even be responsible for arresting their lack of an increased in opportunity?

 

2015 A levels H1 General Paper (8807) Paper 1 Suggested Solutions

2015 A levels H1 General Paper (8807) Paper 1 Suggested Solutions

JC General Paper

As predicted correctly, this year’s paper has a fair mix of topics that we have proudly identified for students!

We have kindly highlighted the questions whose topic we have correctly predicted.

  1. “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” To what extent is this true? (Media)

  2. How far is it possible for one country to forgive another for its past actions? (War and terrorism)

  3. How effectively is public health promoted and managed in your society?

  4. “No cause is ever worth dying for.” Discuss.

  5. Consider the argument that the main purpose of television should be to educate rather than simply to entertain. (Media) 

  6. In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced? (Environment) 

  7. “Parents have no right to impose their own values and beliefs on their children.” Discuss.

  8. “Books serve little purpose in education as technological developments become more sophisticated.” How far do you agree? (Traditional media vs. S&T)

  9. To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent? (Arts)

  10. Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great? (S&T)

  11. When a government’s finances for social welfare are limited, should they be directed towards the young or the old?

  12. “Human actions should be based on scientific fact, not religious faith.” How far do you agree with this statement?

Are you interested to know if you have answered the questions correctly? Click on the questions for a short suggested outline for each of the question by Ms Chen!