Category Archives for Critical Thinking Resource

Freeganism in Singapore

Freeganism in Singapore

Freeganism is a practice and ideology of limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources, particularly through recovering wasted goods like food. The word "freegan" is a portmanteau of the words "free" and "vegan".

Recently, Channel New Asia (CNA) published a story about 38-year-old Mr Daniel Tay, a self-proclaimed freegan who goes through the trash of others to find items he can eat or use, as a way of life. Reactions from readers ranged from admiration to sheer disgust. 

One might assume participants of the freeganism movement do so for economical reasons. However, some participants do it to make a statement against excessive consumerism and unnecessary food wastage. Others do it for fun. 

This festive season, adopt the freegan's love for sharing. Go through the items you are about to throw away and consider donating those that are still usable to a charity organisation. Every bit counts.

Questions to Consider

1. What does Daniel mean when he says he hopes that in future, "dumpster diving is either normal or obsolete"?
2. Would you become a dumpster diver in Singapore? Why?
3. What can you do as a Singaporean to reduce food wastage?


QUESTION: Should Singaporeans adopt freeganism? 

Yes; if all Singaporeans adopt freeganism, there will be less food wastage. Also, there would be less pollution in the seas, as less plastic would be wasted or discarded. People can also benefit by getting items for free, and not spend more money on purchasing them. By getting things for free, not only do people save the food that are still edible, but people may also be more willing to share with others .
Freegans may also find expensive, valuable items that can still be used -- after all, one man's poison is another man's meat! In the video, Daniel found a working coffeemaker and a telescope during his dumpster dives.

~ Vanessa Teoh, Primary 5

Start preparing for the PSLE this holidays

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

The Importance of Reading

The Importance of Reading

As the exam period comes to an end this month, students will finally be able to find time to do the things they like. Hopefully, they find time to indulge in one of the most timeless hobbies- Reading. 

Other than being the most effective ways to improve one's proficiency in any language, reading also reaps a myriad of other benefits.

1. Be Well-Informed

The accrual of knowledge is most commonly accomplished by the act of reading. No one is born with information readily available in his head. Even the most intelligent person needs to fill his mind with meaningful data before he can analyse and express an opinion on a subject. Being the most information dense of all media, it is no wonder print continue to be the most common tool for learning.

2. Improve concentration and mental capabilities

The cognitive process of reading forces the mind to focus and think. Reading is quite simply a process of drawing meaning from a line of symbols (the alphabet). It is impossible not to think while reading. The same way how games and puzzles sharpen the mind, reading helps increase brain power and improves memory. 

3. Boost Self-Esteem

People who are illiterate suffer from low self esteem. They miss out on the joys of being able to text on the phone, understand an award winning foreign movie, singing karaoke, buying the correct toiletries... the list goes on. Most importantly, being able to read well is a prerequisite to getting a better education. When one gets a good education, it is more likely that he will do better in life, and ultimately feel better about himself.


Start preparing for the PSLE this holidays

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."- Margaret Fuller

Please click the links below for book recommendations:

Recommended 2017 book list for children

Booker Prize Winners (1968 to present)

Guardian 2017 Booklist for Children

Discussion: The Multiple Faces of The Homeless in Singapore

Discussion: The Multiple Faces of The Homeless in Singapore


Derelict – a person without a home, job, or property.

Destitute – extremely poor, without the means to provide for oneself.

These two words come to mind when one thinks about the homeless sleeping on the streets. A few weeks ago, TODAY ran a news report about the homeless in Singapore and the revelations defied conventional perceptions about them. For example, a large fraction of the 180 interviewed were gainfully employed. More than a quarter owned flats. That is far from the definition of a derelict or a destitute.
Before one breaks out the champagne, and conclude that the homeless situation is not as big a problem as it seems; one needs to understand that although some made conscious choices to be homeless, the circumstances that led them to such choices are often unhappy ones.

The most common reason for people to have no roof over their heads is income level. A cleaner with a monthly salary of $1,200 can hardly make ends meet even without having to pay for room rental, which on average can be $600 to $700 a month. In this regard, the government has done its part by coming up with the Public Rental Scheme where small flats can be rented from as low as $26 a month, depending on household income. The condition of having to apply with another family member or single Singaporean citizen made many homeless who are used to a reclusive lifestyle, or already abandoned by friends and family; difficult to partake in the scheme.

Alternative solutions might include halfway houses or three-quarter houses, but these might only appeal to the religiously inclined.

Read The Full Article Here: 
Singapore's homeless struggle to find support

Questions to Consider:

Q1. In your day-to-day activities, can you recognise a homeless person when he crosses your path? Does a homeless person look ‘homeless’? What is your opinion?

Q2. Do the homeless know the options and help that are available to them? Do you think the government is doing enough to ameliorate their situation?

Q3. What do you think we as citizens can do to help?

Like it? Share it!

Creative Campus has a slew of activities planned for Primary 1 to Secondary 2 (2018) students.

If you are looking for enrichment activities that will give your children a decisive advantage and help them stay on top of the game, check out what we have to offer this December.

General Paper 2017: A Post Mortem

General Paper 2017: A Post Mortem

Each year, when the General Paper exams loom, my emotions are a tumult of excitement and anxiety: excitement because I absolutely love the challenge posed in the GP exams. As an educator, GP delights me no end as the questions indeed require students to think and evaluate critically, and write cogently on a myriad of current-day issues. So, to be able to navigate the GP papers well is a relevant skill today.

The anxiety arises because I know how hard my students and I have worked over the course of 2 years in preparation for the exams, and, of course I want them to do well--hence the inevitable nerves.

My cohort of students come from different JCs, with varying grasps of GP. I'm not looking for As across the board, but I am expecting improvements in scores as a reflection of their effort put into the subject.

Still, GP2017 is now done and dusted. I've checked in with my students and now weigh in on General Paper 2017...

Paper 1 was a fair paper, offering a good mix of topics for candidates to choose from. 

The ever popular science and technology-related questions took a back seat this year, though Q2--on the use of animals for scientific research--is fairly accessible to most. Those who focused on media-related issues had 2 rather manageable questions to choose from.

The key to acing the GP essay is in the evaluation and analysis, so those who merely listed factors and/or went about essay topics in a 'pros and cons' manner would have presented limited arguments. These scripts would not score well in their content.

In preparing our students for Paper 1, we are delighted to have addressed the following questions particularly well 🙂

Q3: In your society, to what extent is it acceptable for public money to be used for the acquisition of works of art?

--The key to acing this question is to address "acceptable" and "acquisition of art works", rather than simply evaluating whether public funding should be applied to the arts.


Q5:Is regulation of the press desirable?

--The reasons for "desirability" should be addressed, including 'who', and in what way, regulation of the press benefits.


Q8: Examine the role of music in establishing a national identity in your society.

--Candidates should examine what the SG national identity is. They would need to address the extent to which music impacts the establishment of that national identity. Students should not focus excessively on the other factors that influence the development of our national identity.


Q10: 'Practical ability is just as important as intellectual skills.' How far is this true in your society?

--At the onset, candidates need to address what 'practical ability' and 'intellectual skills' are. Then, they need to weigh in on how and why in the context of SG, these two aspects are of of equal importance, or one outweighs the other.


Paper 2 comprised 2 passages on sharing and collecting personal data online. 

Most students found the paper manageable though the Application Question (AQ) took an unexpected turn in its phrasing, requiring students to address how far (they) agree with the arguments presented by both authors, in the context of (their) society. This is a slight deviation from the typical AQ asking which author the candidate agreed with in the context of their society.

Some students found it difficult to justify their responses with concrete evidence.  

One possible approach to the AQ is as follows:

First: Candidates can address a similar argument presented in both passage.

...that (users') information is constantly being collected about their location, demographics, behaviour and habits [Psg 1 para 4] and anyone with an online presence is continuously... broadcasting their personal data [Psg 1 para 4].


This is true in SG because:

  • 70% of Singaporeans are active social media users on-the-go, more than double the global average
  • internet penetration rate in SG is among the highest in the world at 82%
  • we have access to most global e-commerce sites like Amazon, Taobao and social media sites: FB Snapchat, Instagram
  • algorithms and bots are always picking up users' information, evident in how online ads are displayed according to the respective user's preferences and searches. Google search results on a particular keyword also differ from user to user, depending on their search history.
  • a user's location is also immediately detectable so various recommendations can be pushed out by websites. E.g. UBER and Grab services, location app on FB etc

These factors culminate in a constant collection of personal data by various online sites, which are then used to market to the user.

Second: Candidates can then take the above argument further by referencing Psg 1 [para 1] "If you are not paying for the product, you are the product"...since for most companies, "their services are monetised either by marketing portions of web space to advertisers or through peddling [users' data to organisations]" [Psg 1 para 2].​​​​

  • Student can cite how all online sites and articles feature ads [eerily curated to suit their preferences and interest]
  • Author's point is of limited application in SG due to government regulation e.g. Personal Data Protection Act [briefly state what PDPA does e.g. governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal data to maintain individuals’ trust in organisations that manage data].

Finally: Candidates can address an argument in Psg 2 and present a qualified agreement. For instance, Psg 2 para 5: the author argues that in natural disasters or emergency situations, 'swarm intelligence' or information is useful as more information collected means a more powerful swarm response to the disaster.

  • Agree--in the recent terrorist bombings in major cities and the Hong Kong typhoon, many were able to use the Safety Check app on FB. Similar applications and programs can therefore collate data more comprehensively and enable more thorough response to disasters.
  • However, author's argument is limited in veracity because the infrequency of disaster and low probability of becoming a victim of disaster simply cannot justify the sheer amount of personal data being collected on a daily basis, and used against the individual for marketing and profiteering purposes; or worse, as a tool for crime or other nefarious activity against the person. E.g As it is, SG ranked 6th in a 2016 study on global card frauds. The study looked at risky behaviours like leaving a smartphone unlocked when not in use, shopping or banking online without security software, and responding to e-mail or calls asking for banking information. The instance of identity theft and fraud can only escalate if information is readily and easily "swarmed" online.
  • The adage "nothing is ever deleted from the internet" remains true and personal data protection should be prioritised.

Note that: By limiting or qualifying agreement of relevance of the authors' arguments, a candidate fulfils the 'extent' or 'how far do you agree' aspect of the question.

Our J1 students are already preparing hard for General Paper 2018. We take a break from lessons until January 2018. I look forward to more intellectual sparring and argumentation with my students in the new year!

~Contributed by Geraldine Chew [Ms] 6 November 2017

Celebrating Home-Grown Talents

Celebrating Home-grown Talents

Current affairs have always been a key feature of our curriculum. In our experience, discussing topical issues can boost students' critical thinking skills and make learning more fun. Creative Campus has been able weave current affairs into our lessons across all levels. This can be done even for critical years. News stories have been incorporated into the oral communication section of the P6 course. We are committed to helping our students stay up-to-date with the big issues because we believe that this will enable them to stay relevant in the new economy.

The following is a sample P6 lesson which demonstrates how current affairs can be tied in with PSLE needs. Preparing for PSLE Orals can be be a fun learning process. Students in the Essay and Oral Writing programme are given five minutes to respond to a news feature.

Click on the following link to watch the full video.

Oral Practice
Topic 1: Singaporean Comic Wins International Prize
A Singaporean artist's graphic novel has topped the list of nominations for the Eisners, the Oscars of of the comic book world. Sonny Liew tells the BBC about the challenges he faced in making the book, which has been criticised by the Singaporean government for "potentially undermining" its authority.

1. What might be the benefits of reading comics? Would you recommend that children read comics?

Raeanne Wong
Reading comics helps and trains us to visualise the picture according to the story. Comics also tell the story in a very simple way, allowing us to understand it better.

No, I would not recommend that children read comics because I feel that young children should be exposed to proper stories which teach them to write with good phrases and good expressions, and also to give reasons, a beginning, problem, and ending of a story.  

Alexandra Foo
Reading comics is a bit like watching television, since there are pictures and a picture tells a thousand words. I recommend that children read only age-appropriate and grammatically-correct comics.

The content of the comics have to be appropriate for children or it may scar them since some adult comics are very graphic. If the comics are not grammatically correct, the children reading them may start speaking poor English and using slangs more often.  

2. Would you pursue a career in the arts or a sport? Why or why not?

Raeanne Wong
I would pursue a career in the arts because I am musically-inclined and have the passion for it. Hence, I also thoroughly enjoy myself when I do anything related to music. I attend music classes which serve as training for my music, and when I want to pursue a career, it would be much easier for me to do something that I have had training in. In a nutshell, I would pursue a career in the arts as I have been having music lessons since young and love doing music.

Alexandra Foo

I would pursue a career in the arts. I would like to become an author when I grow up. I enjoy reading a lot and I find writing a book lets me express my feelings and opinions about the world. Thus, I would like to become an author.

Gen X vs Millennials on Music Appreciation: Critical Thinking

Gen X vs Millennials on Music Appreciation: Critical Thinking

Last week, our secondary students were asked to read the following article and respond to the writer’s opinion [7-12 Nov 2016].

BOWIE, PRINCE AND A NOTE TO (BAFFLED?) MILLENNIALS BY AJ HARTLEY

The article: http://ajhartley.net/musings-non-writing/bowie-prince-and-a-note-to-baffled-millennials/

Commentary

In paragraph 4: Hartley states that in the past “the culture around pop music was positively tribal…The bands you listened to…it was about who you wanted to be, what you wanted to stand for…Music was life. It was identity.” In contrast, “there are so many more forms of easily accessible pop culture available today that music doesn’t have the exclusive force that it used to.” One of the questions we asked our students is if they agree with Hartley’s suggestion that the music one listens to can represent and mould one’s identity?

A Model Response, adapted from Dylan Lim’s essay [age 15], a student at Creative Campus

Firstly, I feel that the bulk of twenty-first century music merely entertains, conveying little meaning. Current songs aim to have catchy tunes and good rhythm, which allow the listener to simply enjoy and relax.

However, these songs rarely hold any deep meaning and usually comprise superficial repetitive lyrics. Selena Gomez’s Kill them with Kindness is an apt example — the chorus repeats the title five times.

Moreover, the more popular artists focus heavily on dubstep and electronic noises in their music, to the exclusion of meaningful lyrics.

For example, Kyga and The Chainsmokers compose mainly dubstep or electronic songs. Even in the few songs they have composed that contain lyrics, the lyrics hold absolutely no meaning, such as in The Chainsmokers’ Let me take a selfie.

However, there is a subset of modern music that advocates meaningful messages quite effectively. With all the strife in our world, some artists create music to respond to these pertinent issues in our communities.

Some explore discrimination while others respond to current events. Two good examples will be Michael Jackson’s Heal the world, which touches on conflicts stemming from discrimination, and the Black Eyed Peas’ Where is the love, which was released after the September 11 disaster. It was released again in light of the recent Paris bombings.

In response to AJ Hartley’s piece, I do agree that music greatly defined one’s identity in the past. Most fans of a certain genre rarely listened to another music genre. It almost resembled a form of discrimination, or a boycott of any foreign music.

For example, an R&B fan would mostly steer away from jazz or rap music, which was primarily listened to and composed by the African American community. In the past, fans also involved themselves in the various traditions that accompanied each music culture.

For example, one could identify a loyal rock fan by their long hair and exaggerated fashion sense. In comparison to the present, which music industry is dominated by tunes composed chiefly to entertain, I do feel that music played a more significant role in the past; it was key to a sense of identity for many.


Read, think and write about real-world issues that impact oneself and One's society.


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A Teen’s Perceptive View on “Affairs of the Heart”

A Teen's Perceptive View on "Affairs of the Heart"

Write Music Video Review on Ok Go’s The Writing's on The Wall

Lynn Hong, At Age 15

You cannot help but be left slack-jawed and absolutely amazed after watching Ok Go’s The Writing on The Wall. The quirky representation of the song through the use of optical illusions is a welcome and lively twist that makes this video extremely memorable.

Although some viewers may be left slightly disorientated by the spinning camera shots in the later half of the video and befuddled by the optical illusions, the video scores on its clever use of perspective and illusions, and on its cohesiveness with the song’s main message.

The song’s primary message is that a couple is breaking up due to a growing distance between them. However, the speaker still wishes to end the relationship on a high note. This difference in perspective of the estranged couple is made all the more apparent by the use of optical illusions in the video.

Viewed from a certain angle, it may seem as though the band member is floating on thin air against a patterned background. When the camera angle shifts, you see that he is actually standing on the ground. Another example would be the words “I think I understand you” painted on a wall. Again, it is reduced to incoherent lines and fragments when the camera angle shifts.

The video comprises a string of fun and intriguing optical illusions which clearly illustrate the difference which each person’s perspective makes. It literally goes from a perfectly understandable sentence to a scrawl, demonstrating the differences in opinions and perspectives between this couple. This very visual and amusing representation of the song’s message makes the video highly enjoyable.

If you were to mute the video, the visuals alone create a joyful, almost whimsical wonderland and an exuberant atmosphere with its quirky illusions and colourful props. However, accompanied by the somewhat despondent and resigned melody, it combines to create an interesting experience for the viewer.

On the one hand, a break up is eminent, but you are chuckling away heartily at the antics and illusions. Although the main message of both video and song is sad, you thoroughly delight in it. This contrast further serves to bring out the contradiction in the message, that the parties want to have fun and be happy even in their last days as a couple. It not only allows you to see and hear its message, but feel the song’s intent as well.

All in all, it is a thoroughly enjoyable music video with a delightful twist of whimsy that very effectively brings out its main message.

Ms Geraldine Chew, Lynn's Teacher

"The lyrics of the song speak about being in a relationship knowing that breakup is imminent and unavoidable. Lynn's review was particularly incisive in conveying the sense of order and chaos; and her appreciation of the video’s predominant play on optical illusions."

The Changing Nature of Work

The Changing Nature of Work

The onset of the digital age has meant that the nature of work is also changing at an unprecedented rate. “Disruptive” is the new buzz-word, with companies harnessing technology to shake up conventional industries. The revolutionising of processes and industries underlies a bigger question: how will the structural nature of work be changed? Are we doing enough to prepare our children with skills that can adapt to the demands of a changing economy?

The advent of the digital age has far-reaching implications. The rise in disruptive technologies is amidst a wider decline of single skill-set jobs and an accompanying shift toward roles where soft-skills and mathematical skills are paramount.

[1] A collaborative approach in the workplace also favours job-seekers with trans-disciplinary skills that are required to inform decision-making about complex problems.[2] With jobs being gradually phased out due to disruption and automation, the ability to think critically and synthesise complex ideas will be a necessity.

The pace at which global trends emerge also means that our younger generation will develop a global sensitivity and be up to date with current affairs. Businesses like Airbnb have disrupted traditional industries such as the hotel industry, threatening jobs in hospitality, for example, by allowing homeowners to rent out their homes to strangers.

An education that encourages a love of learning, or a wider sensitivity to global trends, is thus an essential first step that complements the spirit of innovation that is highly prized in the changing world economy.

It is also worth noting a gradual shift in the nature of work away from conventional nine-to-five employment [3]. With a rise in those who opt for freelance or project-based careers, work is likely to become less singular and more multi-faceted over the next generation.

It is likely that multiple careers during the lifetimes of the younger generation will become the norm, and a curriculum that encourages broad-based thinking will stand our younger ones in good stead by encouraging them to explore a diverse range of interests.

At Creative Campus, we continually complement the teaching of English with current affairs to encourage a wider love of learning. We are aware of the stringent and challenging requirements of the school syllabus and additionally, the skillsets and love for learning we wish to inculcate in the children that will maximise their opportunities for success.

We are experienced in creative writing techniques and regularly intersperse our curriculum with real-world issues. Do sign up for our weekly newsletter to be kept abreast with our offerings as well as for discussions on current affairs.


[1] Kruchoski, P. 10 skills you need to thrive tomorrow – and the universities that will help you get them. (2016, August 19). World Economic Forum.

[2] Torkington, S. The jobs of the future – and two skills you need to get them. (2016, September 2). World Economic Forum.

[3] Thompson, D. A World Without Work. (2015, July/August). The Atlantic.

The Importance of Current Affairs

The Importance of Current Affairs

Addressing Real-World Issues, One News Article At A Time

Here is an article we utilised as a platform for class discussion:

In this article, we learn that Disney has a hand in making prosthetics look cool. (For PDF version click here)

Iron Man, Elsa or Star Wars? With British company Open Bionics, the sky is the limit.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What are some of the inherent problems with most prosthetics?
  • Why is it important to change the perception of prosthetics amongst users and observers alike?
  • How else children develop their self-confidence without relying on material tools?
  • Have a look at the video. Do you think it’s a fantastic solution? Why?

Creative Campus is no stranger to weaving real-world issues into our syllabus. Even before the Ministry of Education advocated the importance of 21st century competencies, our curriculum has engaged students’ interest and inspire learning.

We have emphasised the importance current affairs since Day One. Hence, our English enrichment lesson are crafted in an accessible and compelling manner. This approach has helped many of our students stay informed and broadened their minds. The skills that students learn will stay with them all the way through to General Paper and beyond.

Don’t take our word for it. Check out what our ex-students have to say.

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Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

One of the most famous quotes attributed to Ludwig Wittgenstein goes, “The limits of my language means the limits of my world”. If this is indeed true, then it is truly regrettable that some of the words that we find in other languages have no precise English equivalent. Do have a look at some of the words and their meaning, and see if you agree!

1. Utepils (Norwegian)

This singular word refers to the act of enjoying a beer while sitting outside on a sunny day. Perhaps not too applicable to Singapore since the weather is too hot for anyone to sit in the open?

2. Komorebi (Japanese)

Just as the Italians coined the word ‘Chiaroscuro’ to refer to the artistic interplay between light and dark (the term itself is derived from the Italian words for ‘light’ and ‘dark’, in fact!), the Japanese have a specific term to refer to the sunlight that shines in through forests, creating a scattered or dappled effect. The English have co-opted the Italian word into its dictionary. Might we suggest they do the same for this nifty Japanese term?

3. Tingo (Pascuense)

Do you have an annoying neighbour who’s always borrowing everything from kitchen seasoning to home repair essentials? Be careful! The Spanish have a word to refer to such a person, although it also carries the connotation of “gradually stealing everything out of a neighbour’s house by borrowing but not returning.” One has to wonder, though: what kind of terrible experiences they must have endured to have such a specific word coined!

4. Itsuarok (Inuit)

Are your friends frequently tardy and keep you waiting? Isn’t it a frustrating experience when you wait for 30 minutes, sometimes an hour for a friend who doesn’t seem to respect your time? “Itsuarok” captures this frustration of waiting for someone to turn up, although, given that the word doesn’t have an English equivalent, we might want to just give those friends a piece of our mind instead.