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GENERAL (SOCIAL)

1) ‘In spite of more information, man is not more informed.’ Comment


2) ‘People should be free to say and do as they wish.’ Discuss.
3) Do you agree that we live in a dangerous world?
4) Do you think we are obsessed with progress today?
5) There is no such thing as privacy today. Comment.
6) ‘Addiction is the bane of the modern world.’ Discuss.
7) Without our past, our future would be a tortuous path leading to nowhere.’ Do you
agree?
8) Account for the increasing fascination with celebrities in modern society. Do you
think this is a cause for concern?
9) “Increasingly, money is the prime motivator for many people in the world today.”
Discuss.
10) Stress is healthy. Discuss
11) ‘Inspite of more information, man is not more informed.’ Comment
12) ‘There is nothing wrong with being individualistic'. What is your view on this?
13) ‘More must be done to protect the rights of children.’ Discuss.
14) Foreign talents are detrimental to a country’s social cohesion. What are your views?
15) Travel is the best form of leisure. How valid is this statement?
16) Apart from making money, why work?
17) ‘The future of our world looks bleak.’ Do you agree with this statement?
18) We live in a world of excesses. Discuss
19) “Equality is still a myth.” Discuss
20) Is there anything a country can do to keep its most talented people?
21) Discuss the value of a vibrant arts scene to a world class city.

QN ‘In spite of more information, man is not more informed.’ Comment

Topic: Presence of more information ; Issue: Man in not more informed in spite of that.

Definition of key terms:


Question implies that despite a larger body of knowledge and more access to them, man is not
more knowledgeable / wise / acting as though he has the knowledge.
Stand:
Yes-No stand. The balanced approach would acknowledge that due to a larger body of
knowledge and more access to them, man in some instances has become more knowledgeable
/ wise and acts according to the knowledge he has. On the other hand, there are also instances
where despite the information, man’s action indicates that he is none the wiser.

Points:
1. Medical health: More information arising from advances in medical science – e.g. human
genome, microbiology, more information about harmful effects of smoking, certain diet
More informed – higher awareness of illnesses and cures, earlier detection, even new
diseases are contained relatively quickly, e.g. SARS, outbreak of polio in Indonesia.
Effect of “Supersize Me” on fast food industry.
Not more informed – new disease outbreaks still occur, often due to lack of responsibility
of people and govt (e.g. bird flu in Vietnam, food scare in China and Hong Kong), still
little concerted effort from world bodies to fight problems such as AIDS. No. of smokers
in the world not decreasing.
2. Advent of the internet, able to access any information with a click of a mouse.
More informed – People are indeed more knowledgeable and no longer kept in the dark
about things. Change the way students are taught and notion of expert in any field. Even
knowledge of how to make a bomb can be easily found on the internet. Changes in

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politics and media reporting apparent due to people being more informed by the internet –
e.g. blogging
Not more informed – proliferation of false information make people more confused
3. Environment: More information is now available about environmental problems caused
by the greenhouse gases, natural resources running out, environmental pollution.
More informed – Actions taken by govt to reduce problem – E.g. Kyoto Protocol, Joint
effort to fight forest fire in Indonesia.
Not more informed – Widespread disregard for environmental conservation – E.g. Kyoto
protocol not rectified by all, green cars not very popular.
4. Religion: More information available on various religious beliefs as translations are
widely available. Religious texts no longer esoteric texts known only to privileged few.
More informed – more people taking up religious beliefs not traditionally known to their
race, greater tolerance and understanding in some countries.
Not more informed – extremist ideology and stereotypes still exist. Islamic
fundamentalism, treating of Muslims as terrorist, cults still thrive (mass suicide cults in
Korea).
5. Economic: Disadvantages of trade barriers, monopolies and even patents (argued in
article by Stiglitz in ST) known to many.
More informed – FTAs, privatization, antimonopoly law put in place to curb problems.
Not more informed – Protectionist policies still exist, E.g. EU textile quota for China,but
these controls are still in place and little is done to remove them. Power of Microsoft
hardly curtailed, patent laws continue to deny cheap drugs to poor countries.
6. News: More reporting done by various media. More independent press.
More informed – allows people to look at issues from different perspectives, prevents
information from being hidden from people. E.g. Many independent newspapers in China
reports on issues that central government would like to prevent its people from knowing,
govt unable to control all of them (Newsweek, June 05)
Not more informed – Western bias means that people do not always get both sides of the
story (i.e. the whole truth). E.g. Reports on Iraq often focus on perspective of the west.
Domination of large western media companies. Inaccurate reporting can have
repercussions, e.g. inaccurate news of Quran being burnt in Iraq. Sensationalisation can
lead to illogical responses in people.

QN: ‘People should be free to say and do as they wish.’ Discuss.

Question Analysis:
The question requires students to discuss ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ and show an
awareness of the
- context in which one operates could influence the degree of rights one can exercise
- circumstances in which it may not be possible and/or desirable to do so exercise one’s
rights fully.

Yes, people should be free to say and do as No, people should not be free to say and do
they wish … as they wish…
 since they have fundamental Rights to  as rights to different freedoms can
Freedom. contradict each other.
In the UN declaration, a series of 30 articles Our right to a safe and secure environment
(or statements) protect the rights of all come with the responsibility to safeguard this
people to enjoy a number of freedoms. These right and keep the environment safe in the
are the set of rights that the UN believed that form of common laws and statutes stipulated
all people should be entitled to, regardless of by the state. This means that people should
where they live. These given rights to certain live their lives in ways that are deemed as
freedoms would largely include how we go lawful by the government or face punitive
about with our lives daily i.e. free to say and measures. In another words, they may not get

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Yes, people should be free to say and do as No, people should not be free to say and do
they wish … as they wish…
do what we wish. to be free do and say as they wish if either of
them is considered as unlawful by the state
e.g. gun ownership is prohibited in many
countries, such as Singapore.

 because of the argument of the ‘harm  because of the flaws in the assumption
principle’. of the ‘harm principle’.
The ‘harm principle’ has been a key The ‘harm principle’ assumes that everyone
argument for one to say or do as one wishes has a sound mind and the capacity to make
so long as one does not cause harm to others. decision. It does not make provision for the
Some argue that people have the right to mentally and physically weak who are
harm themselves as it is only their own dependent on others to make decisions for
responsibility to decide what is best for them and look after them e.g. the
themselves, even to the extent of harming handicapped, the old and destitute.
themselves with bad personal habits such as Furthermore, the ‘harm principle’ fails to take
smoking, consuming alcohol and not into consideration those who have the
watching their diet. The key argument is so capability and are of sound mind to make
long as no other person is hurt, there are no decision but simply, just refuse to take care of
reasons that one cannot say and do as they themselves and need to take direction from
wish. others. Therefore, not all are able or willing
to say and do what they wish.

 because it promotes intellectual and  because it is not possible for one do so


political discourse which are critical to under special and emergency
growth and economic progress. conditions.
Not having the freedom to say and do as one Arguably, the most important single function
wishes would mean that there is restriction of government is to secure the rights and
and code of conduct with clear ‘out of freedoms of individual citizens. To protect the
bounds’ markers to abide by. The argument sovereignty of a nation especially in times of
is that such an environment would stifle the crisis, marshal law may override individual
rigour in intellectual and political discourse rights and people do not have the right to do
which could only lead to a nation of and say as they wish. In times of peace,
followers without the desire to innovate and selected/identified individuals in some
think out of the box. It is critical that for the societies are required by law to give up
sake of growth and progress in society, there civilian lives to serve in defending the country
must be a pool of ideas and innovation e.g. national service in Singapore.
generated by the people to push the frontier
in terms of new knowledge creation for
economic growth.

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Yes, people should be free to say and do as No, people should not be free to say and do
they wish … as they wish…
 as experience is the best way for one to
learn from successes and mistakes.
Learning is most effective when It is
intrinsically motivated, instead of being
socially motivated (extrinsic). The argument
against conformity in the form of a
prescribed set of actions to demonstrate
when living in community due to societal
pressure demands is because it does not
enable the individual to take personal
responsibility for his own action and allow
person to grow, develop and mature from his
own successes and mistakes.

QN Do you agree that we live in a dangerous world?

Examine the question


• Do we live in a dangerous world?
• What are the dangers?
• Why are they a danger to us?

In what way is the world a dangerous place?


political instability
- civil war/ war between nations
- terrorism and the unpredictability of its target
- weapons proliferation and arms race

economic instability
- interdependence of economies
- currency speculators
- overheating economies of developed nations like the US and developing nations
like China (a ticking time bomb)

social unrest
- racial discrimination
- gender inequality
- rise of neo-Nazis, anti-migrant political parties
- food safety
- disease management
- drugs/ guns/ pornography/ internet crim
- environmental threat
- global warming
- unpredictable weather conditions
- pollution of land, water, air

However
- We are participants and thus do have a say in creating the world we desire

QN Do you think we are obsessed with progress today?

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Minimum requirements of the question
• Candidates must show an understanding of the terms ‘obsession’ and ‘progress’.
‘Obsession’ can be defined as an over-emphasis on something that leads to unhealthy
consequences. ‘Progress’ can be defined as making improvement.
• Candidates should point out that while progress is something we should strive
for, an obsession with it will lead to negative consequences & point out what some of
the negative consequences are e.g. mental, emotional, physical stress which leads to
breakdowns (at an individual, family and societal level), loss of human compassion
and virtues like patience, love and concern for others, losing sight of the other aspects
of life like family ties, a social conscience, duty to God, a lack of appreciation for the
finer things in life like the arts, culture – no soul).
• Candidates should evaluate if in general, we are obsessed with progress today.

Bonuses
 Good candidates should be able to point out that a balance must be struck between
wanting to make progress and holding on to what is good
 Good candidates should be able to point out what are some of the characteristics of
society today that may drive one to become obsessed with progress
 Good candidates would also be able to contextualize the discussion in terms of the
country or region they are discussing and look beyond Singapore

Potential pitfalls
 Candidates fail to show an understanding of the negative connotation of the word
‘obsession’.
 Candidates fail to show how obsession with progress can lead to negative
consequences.

Possible arguments
Yes, we are obsessed with progress today.
No, we desire progress but are not obsessed with it today.

QN There is no such thing as privacy today. Comment.

Minimum requirements of the question


• Candidates must clarify the term ‘privacy’. Privacy = having one’s own private
space respected, not having one’s whereabouts tracked or one’s personal life
monitored, having rights to one’s own personal information.
• Candidates must point out why in today’s world, it may be increasingly difficult
to protect one’s privacy. Some possible issues to discuss: Threat of terrorism –
therefore need to track people’s travel patterns, need information, background checks
on visitors to one’s country. Threat of epidemic outbreaks – need to track closely
again to prevent spread. Security devices – fingerprinting on biometrics card,
surveillance cameras set up in many public areas to ensure security but also is a
violation of one’s privacy. Cameras and other recording devices in handphones now
make it difficult to have privacy – rise of citizen journalism. One leaves behind one’s
electronic trail today in using credit cards, computer account, handphone etc. One’s
genetic information may be sought after by insurance companies, employees of the
future etc.

Bonuses
 Good candidates should be able to point out that basic respect for one’s own private
space and personal moments is not at odds with the rise in the need to ensure public
security

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 Good candidates should point out that even if one can be tracked, as long as one has
got nothing to hide, he need not fear that he can be traced and in most cases and as
long as one does not have a record, one’s privacy will not be violated
 Good candidates may also wish to discuss how increasingly the public feel that they
have the right to know more about the private and personal lives of their leaders etc.
(although there is still a limit to how much of a person’s private life should be made
public.)

Potential pitfalls
 Not being able to recognize the tension between the need for privacy and the need for
public security or transparency

Possible arguments
Whilst it is increasingly difficult to ensure one’s privacy is protected, it is still possible to
have moments of privacy today.

It is virtually impossible to enjoy complete privacy in today’s world.


‘Those to whom much is given, much is expected.’ Is this a fair statement?

Key terms:
• Students are expected to know be very clear about how certain individuals have
gained much from society, and how they should be expected to repay the society in
return.
• Students should also consider why there is a need contribute back to the society
which an individual have gained from, and why that individual may not see the need
to repay their ‘debts’.

Question Type:
• This is a direct argumentative question.
• Students are expected to evaluate the validity of the statement.
• To do that, they need to explore the reasons why an individual should give back to the
society which he/she has benefited from.

Possible areas to consider:

Prominent individuals who give back to their society include:


• Aung San Suu Kyi
• Bill Gates
• Martin Luther King Jr.

• Students are expected to explain what they have gained from society (education
received, massive amounts of money made etc.) and how they feel morally obligated to
repay the society through their respective ways.

• On the other hand, students are also expected to give balance by considering why
some people do not see this as a moral contract and thus not feel the need to return the
favour to society. They may see success as something they have earned through their own
hard work and not a privilege provided to them by society.

- E.g. Local scholars who chose to break their bonds with the government
- Citizens who have chosen to migrate to countries in search for greener
pastures

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QN ‘Addiction is the bane of the modern world.’ Discuss.

B. DEFINITION OF KEY WORDS:


• addiction – 1) A condition of physical dependence on something, especially a
narcotic drug
2) An extreme devotion to something like computer games, online surfing,
chatting, gambling, sex, extravagant spending such as in shopping, etc.

• bane – A cause of ruin or mischief; ruin, destruction or woe, poison


• modern world – contemporary or prevailing or existing society
• Discuss – consider or examine closely by arguments, for and against the issue

C. POSSIBLE APPROACHES:
a. Students can take the view that ‘Addictions is the bane of the modern world.’
b. Students can also take the view that ‘Addiction is the not bane of the modern
world.
c. Since this is a ‘discuss’ question, both sides of the question have to be discussed.
Students have to present a matured perspective of the answer.

NOTE: Students must be well prepared to discuss all possible aspects of the term
‘addiction’.

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D.POSSIBLE POINTS TO CONSIDER

Addiction is a bane of the modern world. It is not a bane of the modern world.

1 Individual Level Individual Level


• It destroys the individual • Not all forms of addiction may be bad
physically, emotionally and as some such as computer games and
psychologically. gambling can help individuals to become
All these will cause poor health creative and come up with their own games.
→ increase medical There are cases of how individual obsession
expenditure to seek treatment that leads to invention of new games by the
→ making him poorer → addict who then go on to make good in life
affects him emotionally as he can make a career out of it. Under
and psychologically → also control, some gamblers have turned
affect his family. professional and make a living out of it.
• Individual is financially poorer as they
cannot stay long in a job because his addiction
affects his work performance and thus
productivity. Also his constant absence from
work affects his productivity too.
• He could also be socially shunned by his
colleagues, friends, relatives and family.
• If the addict is a child, his academic
performance will be affected, he may become a
dropout.
• If she is a housewife, she may neglect her
children and husband and this may lead to
family break-up.
• If she is a female, she may a victim of
sexual crime, blackmail and other crimes.

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2 Familial Level Familial Level
• Family (parents, sibling, wife or children) of • It thus becomes a source of income to
addicts suffer both physically, emotionally, them and his family and as such, his
psychologically economically and socially. addiction may not turn out bad eventually, if
• suffer physical abuse if addicts’ needs are he is under familial control and the same
not met. time support.
• Addicts’ family also suffer emotionally and • Also even under addiction, family can
psychologically, in that they under constant fear be bonded to give support to the addictive
living with an addict family member, fear of individual.
attack → they become emotionally and
psychologically traumatised, especially for
children who do not how to react to such
unreasonable behaviour.
• Addict’s expenses on drugs and other
obsessions could cause family to become poorer
as it has to feed his addiction.
• Family may face criticisms from relatives,
friends and they also may be shunned or even
isolated by them
• Family break-ups

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Societal Level Societal Level
• Addiction of the individuals can trigger the • Addiction of any form can help to
increase in crimes and make it a lesser safer create jobs for those who are not employed.
place. For example, when there is demand for
- Fear of robbery, rape and other offences that computer games, gambling etc, it can help
are related to addiction. to look out for creators of computer games
- Other problems may trigger as juvenile and the different of types of gambling
delinquency rate rises as adult addicts are poor forms. As such, indirectly jobs are created
role models to their children and this causes for these creators and this demand for such
their offspring to go wayward and as a result people can also indirectly lead to the
they become a problem of society. creation of other jobs, such as in technicians
in maintaining gambling machines or
distributing and selling them.
• Society will thus have a variety of
computer games and other forms of
gambling entertainment forms to choose
from during their leisure time.

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4 National Level National Level
• Country will have to suffer economically if • The country can benefit when jobs are
her human resource is an addiction of any form, created because there is a demand for
as it will not be attraction to foreign investors. certain addiction such as computer games,
• The country has to spend huge sums of gambling etc. For example, Singapore sees
money providing rehabilitation for this addicts the needs of certain people locally as well as
building halfway houses, paying people to in the region or in the global scene for
supervise and monitor them. gambling, hence, she is building two
• The government has to double up its casinos to meet these local and global
security forces such as the police and Internet needs. Casinos are known to churn out
watchdogs to keep the streets safe and the huge national revenue to sustain the
cyberspace free of undesirable sites, materials country’s mega projects like roads and other
and individuals such as paedophiles and sexual forms of transportation and energy plants.
perverts. • Also such interest demands for certain
• Insecurity of the country due to addiction addiction can help the country further draw
can affect the tourism industry. in tourists and increase its revenue when she
holds competition. For example, yearly
Singapore holds computer games
competition and we just had a poker game
competition recently.

5 Global Level Global Level


• When there is demand for certain • Internationally, certain types of
obsessions as a result of an initial supply of addiction such as computer games,
such obsessions, this will cause a further gambling and also spending etc do not only
proliferation of such operators of such help increase countries’ revenue, it can
obsessions, for example, gambling, increase their competitiveness and also help
pornography, online trafficking of drugs. create jobs and thus increase the income of
Lead to global insecurity as the Internet has allowed their citizens. Poor country like Philippines
addiction of citizens of many nations to flourish and does have casino on land as well in ships
increase in numbers. and it helps the country and her citizens
economically.

Addiction to spending helps country to hold


mega sales once or twice a year to attract
shopaholics worldwide, and they do very
much increase the national revenue of
countries’ and help create jobs and thus
raise the standards of living of these
nations, poor and rich alike

Conclusion
Addiction of any form if not controlled properly, can go out of control and may have various
impact at different levels, hence, some forms of control have to be in place to ensure dire
consequences do not prevail. However, if with a well-regulated mechanisms to see things do
not go out of control, these addictions may turn out to be favourable for many groups of
people.

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QN ‘Without our past, our future would be a tortuous path leading to nowhere.’ Do
you agree?

B. DEFINITION OF KEY WORDS:


• past – The study of the Past(History) is the continuous, systematic narrative and
research of past events as relating to the human race as well as the study of all events
in time, in relation to humanity.

• future – time to come


• tortuous – extremely painful
• path – course/direction
• nowhere – without any sense of direction

C.POSSIBLE APPROACHES:
• Students can agree with the given statement to a great extent, that is, without our past,
our future will indeed be a journey which leads to an undetermined destination.
• Students can agree with the given statement to a small extent, that is, without our
past, our future will not be a journey which leads to an undetermined destination. We
would be able to still carry on with our lives.

D.POSSIBLE POINTS TO CONSIDER:

AGREE – Without our past, our future will DISAGREE – Without our past, our future will not
be meaningless be meaningless

1 Helps us understand people and societies We can understand people and the development of
• Our past offers a storehouse of societies just by experience and through
information about how people and observation.
societies behave.
• No what how much we know of the past, it is
not able to predict the future accurately.

Example:
Example: We can observe the way a group of people behave in
The history of the Ancient Civilisation – certain given situations and learn to make decisions
China, India, Egypt tell us a lot about the through that observations. For example the current
culture and practices of the ancient people. situation in Indonesia, Taiwan etc.
With this information, we can try to
understand the current practices and
behaviour of modern man.

• An exclusive reliance on current data


would needlessly handicap our efforts.
How can we evaluate war if the nation
is at peace—unless we use historical
materials? How can we understand
genius, the influence of technological
innovation, or the role that beliefs play
in shaping family life, if we don't use
what we know about experiences in the
past?

Data from the past must serve, however

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imperfectly, as our laboratory, and data from the
past must serve as our most vital evidence in the
unavoidable quest to figure out why our
complex species behaves as it does in societal
settings. This, fundamentally, is why we cannot
stay away from the past: it offers the only
extensive evidential base for the contemplation
and analysis of how societies function, and
people need to have some sense of how
societies function simply to run their own lives.

2 The past helps us understand change and The past is not a reliable source to understand
how the society we live in came to be change and how we live – head nowhere
• The past causes the present, and so the
future. Any time we try to know why • Too many changes have taken place
something happened—whether a shift indicating changes but still they persist and
in political party dominance in the life proceeds in a normal way.
American Congress, a major change in
the teenage suicide rate, or a war in the Example:
Balkans or the Middle East—we have
to look for factors that took shape a.World War I and World War II – evidence of a lot of
earlier. changes but there are still wars that have occurred
• Sometimes fairly recent events in the after those two major wars. For example – Vietnam
past will suffice to explain a major War, Iraq War
development, but often we need to look
further back to identify the causes of
change. Only through studying the past,
can we grasp how things change; only
through the past can we begin to
comprehend the factors that cause
change; and only through the past, can
we understand what elements of an
institution or a society persist despite
change.

• The importance of studying our past in


explaining and understanding change in
human behavior is no mere abstraction.
Example:
Take an important human phenomenon such as
alcoholism. Through biological experiments
scientists have identified specific genes that
seem to cause a proclivity toward alcohol
addiction in some individuals. This is a notable
advance. However, alcoholism, as a social
reality, has a history: rates of alcoholism have
risen and fallen, and they have varied from one
group to the next. Attitudes and policies about
alcoholism have also changed and varied. The
past is indispensable to understanding why such
changes occur and in many ways analysis of the
past, is a more challenging kind of exploration
than genetic experimentation.

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• One of the leading concerns of
contemporary American politics is low
voter turnout, even for major elections.
A historical analysis of changes in voter
turnout can help us begin to understand
the problem we face today.

3 The importance of the past in our own lives We can still proceed on with our lives without
• The past when it is well told is giving the past a consideration.
beautiful. Many of the historians who
most appeal to the general reading • We have other sources in the form of literary
public know the importance of sources to feel inspired.
dramatic and skillful writing—as well
as of accuracy. Biography and military Example:
history appeal in part because of the
tales they contain. a.’Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

• Data from the past as art and b.The plays by William Shakespeare
entertainment serves a real purpose, on
aesthetic grounds but also on the level c.Harry Porter – fantasy tale of courage and bravery
of human understanding. Stories well
done are stories that reveal how people
and societies have actually functioned,
and they prompt thoughts about the
human experience in other times and
places.

• The same aesthetic and humanistic


goals inspire people to immerse
themselves in efforts to reconstruct
quite remote pasts, far removed from
immediate, present-day utility.
Exploring what historians sometimes
call the "pastness of the past"—the
ways people in distant ages constructed
their lives—involves a sense of beauty
and excitement, and ultimately another
perspective on human life and society.

Examples:
a.The study of the Greek civilization is indeed a
work of art. Myths of early battles with
Mycenaean Troy are preserved in the works of
the story – teller – or tellers – given the name of
Homer.

b.The Renaissance which means ‘rebirth’ is the


name given to the renewed interest in the art,
architecture and learning of Classical Greece
and Rome, which inspired people to try out new

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ideas, and marked the end of the Middle Ages
and the beginning of Modern Times. The
movement began in Italy in the 14th century, and
eventually influenced all of Europe, reaching its
height in the 15th and 16th centuries. The most
powerful patrons of the Renaissance were the
Medici, a family of Florentine bankers who
encouraged artists and scholars to work in their
city. Florence was the home of great artists such
as Leonardo da Vinci(1452 – 1519) and
Michelangelo Buonarroti(1475-1564), architects
such as Filippo Brunelleschi(1377-1446) and
writers such as Dante Alighieri(1265-1321).

4 The study of the past contributes to moral Moral understanding which is essential to our lives
understanding can be learnt and acquired through religion and
• The study of the past also provides a academic literature.
terrain for moral contemplation.
Studying the stories of individuals and • Religion can provide the way to ensure that
situations in the past allows a person to we all live a fruitful life. The teachings of the
test his or her own moral sense, to hone various religions are a great source of
it against some of the real complexities inspiration to everyone.
individuals have faced in difficult
settings. People who have weathered Example:
adversity not just in some work of
fiction, but in real, historical The teachings of Buddha in Buddhism, Jesus Christ in
circumstances can provide inspiration. Christianity and Prophet Mohammed in Islam have
guided the lives of millions of people.
• This use of a study of the past—a study
not only of certifiable heroes, the great
men and women of history who
successfully worked through moral
dilemmas, but also of more ordinary
people who provide lessons in courage,
diligence, or constructive protest.

Examples:

a.1963 – US President Kennedy was


assassinated in Dallas, Texas

b.1965 – Malcolm X, African American militant


leader, is assassinated in New York.

c.1902 – Australia: women win the right to vote

d.1917 – In 1900, Russia was one of the most


underdeveloped places in Europe. Most people
lived in poverty, under the oppressive autocratic
rule of the Tsars. World War One led to
starvation and a huge loss of life, which fed
growing discontent. In april 1917, the leader of
the the communist Bolshevik party, Vladimir

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Ilyich Ulyanov(known as Lenin) returned to
Russia from exile. His influence spread fast and
in October he and his supporters stormed the
palace in St Petersburg and seized power. The
new government acted through a Congress of
Soviets: the6y centralized control of the land,
murdered the Tsar and his family and held onto
power through a campaign of fear, known as the
‘The Red terror’. They won a civil war(1918-
1920), despite support for their opponents, the
Whites, from foreign powers anxious to stop the
spread the revolution. In 1922, Russia became
the Union of Soviet socialist republics (USSR).

5 Knowledge of the past provides identity We can form our own identity without the need to
• It also helps provide identity, and this is know the past.
unquestionably one of the reasons all
modern nations encourage the teaching • Not all of us know our backgrounds and
of the past in some form. Data from the family lines. Despite that, we have managed
past include evidence about how to make our lives successful and meaningful.
families, groups, institutions and whole
countries were formed and about how
they have evolved while retaining
cohesion.
Examples:
a.For many Americans, studying the history of
one's own family is the most obvious use of the Examples:
past, for it provides facts about genealogy and
(at a slightly more complex level) a basis for a.Bill Gates
understanding how the family has interacted b.Martin Luther King
with larger historical change. Family identity is c.Mahatma Gandhi
established and confirmed.

b.Many institutions, businesses, communities,


and social units, such as ethnic groups in the
United States, use the knowledge of the past for
similar identity purposes. Merely defining the
group in the present pales against the possibility
of forming an identity based on a rich past.

c.Histories that tell the national story,


emphasizing distinctive features of the national
experience, are meant to drive home an
understanding of national values and a
commitment to national loyalty. For example
the history of Singapore development and
growth.

6 Studying the past is essential for good Good Citizenship can be inculcated through
citizenship Education
• A study of the past is essential for good
citizenship. This is the most common • Education is a very good tool that can be used
justification for the place of history in to nurture the younger generation to become

15
school curricula. Sometimes advocates good citizens.
of citizenship history hope merely to
promote national identity and loyalty Example:
through a history spiced by vivid stories
and lessons in individual success and The study of ‘Social Studies; in Singapore helps to
morality. The importance of history for instill good values and principles.
citizenship goes beyond this narrow
goal and can even challenge it at some
points.

Example:
The study of Singapore’s history – founding,
progress and continued survival.

• History that lays the foundation for


genuine citizenship returns, in one
sense, to the essential uses of the study
of the past. History provides data about
the emergence of national institutions,
problems, and values—it's the only
significant storehouse of such data
available. It offers evidence also about
how nations have interacted with other
societies, providing international and
comparative perspectives essential for
responsible citizenship. Further,
studying history helps us understand
how recent, current, and prospective
changes that affect the lives of citizens
are emerging or may emerge and what
causes are involved. More important,
studying history encourages habits of
mind that are vital for responsible
public behavior, whether as a national
or community leader, an informed
voter, a petitioner, or a simple observer.
Example:
a.May 1968 – student demonstrations broke out
in Paris against University conditions and other
issues, including US involvement in the
Vietnam war and quickly spread to other parts
of France. Revolution was in the air, as
suppression by the police led to violent clashes
between riot police and up to 30 000 students.
Workers joined forces with the students, ending
in a general strike against President de Gaulle’s
policies. He resigned as President in 1969.

b.1979 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the first


woman prime minister in UK.

c.1989– Pro-democracy demonstrations all over


Germany. The government gives in and the
Berlin wall is knocked down.

16
QN Account for the increasing fascination with celebrities in modern society. Do
you think this is a cause for concern?

Question Interpretation

• There are 2 parts to the question and you must give attention to both:
Account for… In other words, give reasons.
Is there a cause for concern? In other words, is this increasing fascination something that
society should
be worried about? Why?

• Pivotal key word: ‘increasing’.

• What is it about our modern society that makes people become more fascinated with
celebrities?

• Who are celebrities?


They can be singers (Britney Spears), politicians (Barack Obama who has a fan club),
sport stars like footballers (Beckham) or wives of footballers (Victoria Beckham/Posh
Spice), directors (George Lucas), talk show hosts (Oprah Winfrey), environmentalists
(Dian Fossey), newsreaders (Cheryl Fox), authors (JK Rowling), royalty (Princess
Diana), actors/actresses (Orlando Bloom, Fann Wong), hairstylists (David Gan), chefs
(Jamie Oliver), even scientists (South Korean, Dr Hwang)

• What do we mean by ‘fascination with celebrities’?


Tendency to be intensely interested in their affairs, from their daily routine to what they
wear, who they bed and who their current beau is… and also tendency to be captivated by
their beauty, appearance, antics, skills, their star quality, their ‘bad’ ways even…

Approach
The first part of the question is expository in nature. Simply begin the content paragraphs by
giving reasons for the increasing fascination and then proceed to discuss the reasons for why
there is a cause for concern. End by balancing the essay, i.e. why it is possible that there is no
cause for concern.

Possible points
Reasons for the increasing fascination:
Technological advancement, especially in the form of the Internet, has made the mass
media more effective in disseminating information (especially gossip and juicy news)
about celebrities, e.g. celebrity websites, celebrity directories, online fan clubs,
YouTube and blogs help to garner support for these celebrities or help them to gain
further notoriety (e.g. sex tapes of Paris Hilton and her boyfriend).
The mass media in modern society are savvy enough to exploit celebrities to increase
readership, circulation and profits, e.g. tabloids (which remain a very effective
rumour mill) and the advertising industry (look at media hype surrounding JK
Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). Celebrities are the media darlings,
for example, Princess Diana was literally hounded to death by the media; she and
playboy companion, Dodi, were in a car pursued at high speed by photographers on
motobikes before it hit a pillar and smashed a tunnel wall. The high society belles,
Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, have a retinue of paparazzi covering all their daily

17
exploits, from the mundane to the depraved, e.g. in May this year, Paris Hilton was
sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation for reckless driving.
The increasingly materialistic world that places a premium on looking good, the youth
culture, glamour, glitz and fashion. The mass media merely capitalises on this. For
example, the Emmys and Oscars are red-carpet fodder for the media. Look at the
attention given to who wore what? Was Jennifer Love Hewitt wearing a Dolce &
Gabbana cocktail dress topped off with a pair of Harry Winston star-shaped earrings?
Commercialisation translates glamour into dollars and cents, e.g. the use of celebrities in
advertising, e.g. product endorsement. Also, the world of haute couture, whether in
dressing, hairstyling or even interior designing, is now a socially-acceptable and
lucrative way of making a living, compared to the past. David Gan, a local hairstylist
charges something like $1000 per haircut for his celebrity clientele. The industry
fuels the look-good-feel-good culture and consequently, our fascination with
celebrities.
An increasingly affluent society has also helped to boost our fascination with celebrities.
Affluence gives people more opportunities to access information about them or be
like them, e.g. by wearing what they wear. Affluence also means that we can now
afford more time and money on entertainment and our lifestyle.
The fact that celebrities have become trendsetters (e.g. in dressing, dancing style,
mannerisms) also makes us pay more attention to them. They command public
interest. Note the glitterati and the mere mortals who are sporting Posh Spice’s ‘Pop’
(Posh Bob) hairdo.
With globalisation, celebrity now transcends geographical and cultural barriers.
They have become global phenomena.

Is there a cause for concern?

Yes:

When fascination turns into an obsession, it is a cause for concern. Fans have been
known to stalk their idols or even recklessly spend a fortune on mimicking their
lifestyle. Some celebrities with a cult following have even been canonised by
their fans, e.g. an Italian artist sculpted a statue of Princess Diana in a pose and
robes suggestive of the Virgin Mary. Apparently, some of her fans even have a
‘Diana room’ in their homes, filled with memorabilia of the princess. Celebrities
have now replaced religious figures.
However, celebrities are flawed in many ways (including Princess Diana) and are
therefore, poor role models (and certainly not saints), especially for the young
and impressionable; drug-taking (Lindsay Lohan goes in and out of drug rehab),
alcoholism, anorexia (Nicole Richie; note impact on the young and their self-
image, e.g. thin is fashionable), sex scandals, multiple remarriages, shotgun
marriages (Britney Spears was married to her first husband for 2 days), etc. The
negative values (e.g. promiscuity, crass materialism) and attitudes towards sex,
women, marriage and parenthood that they purvey could threaten the very
foundation that society is built on, given that people are so enamoured of them.
In fact, it becomes really worrying when flawed celebrities become the yardstick for
our aspirations.
Celebrities’ excessive focus on physical beauty and the way they acquire it, e.g.
through cosmetic surgery can have a deep impact on society. Fans, especially the
young, have been known to go under the knife to look like their idol. As a result,
increasingly, the young lose their individuality. Such behaviour also promotes
instant gratification (quick fixes without reflecting too much on the
consequences). Perhaps even more insidious is how celebrities influence our
attitudes towards beauty. Our looks define us. Is this an indication of how

18
shallow society has become? In fact, looking good is not enough, we have to look
perfect. What will this pressure to look good do to us?
It has been said that celebrity lifestyles are a collective fantasy. Our fascination with
them is a form of escapism. While some think that there is nothing wrong with
escaping from our mundane lives, it is especially worrying when people cannot
distinguish between public and private, image and reality. The public persona
celebrities adopted is after all often larger than life.
It is even more worrying when the increasing fascination becomes a common pastime
for the masses and technology continues to help feed people’s voyeuristic interest
in the sordid details of the celebrities’ lives. Do we want a society that lives
vicariously through the celebrities’ excesses?
The insidious effects on consumers e.g. celebrity endorsement rakes up sales. Some
consumers genuinely believe that the product is good because the celebrity says
so. However, blind faith in such products and the celebrities does not help us to
solve the root of the problem, e.g. fat burners to replace a healthy diet and regular
exercise to solve weight problems.

Not really a cause for concern:

The young who are especially prone to being enamoured with celebrities will eventually
grow out of it (just a phase), like the generation before them, and therefore, there is
really no cause for concern.
Our fascination with celebrities is merely to satisfy our curiosity. It is harmless.
Human beings are endowed with the capacity to reason and oftentimes, most people know
the difference between reality and fantasy.
Increasingly, the celebrities who realise the power they have are beginning to wield it in a
positive way, (e.g. celebrity philanthropy). Oprah is top of the list in terms of public
donations and Tiger Woods is fifth. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt give generous
amounts to ‘Doctors Without Borders’ and ‘Global Action for Children’. They use
their power to shape public opinion and make the world a better place, e.g. Princess
Diana and her fight to change the stigma attached to people who have Aids. We
should not be too concerned here then as the positive balances out the negative. That
is the way the world works anyway.

Pitfalls
1. Not giving adequate attention to either part of the question
2. Not paying attention to the key word 'increasing’ and therefore, merely talks about
why we are fascinated with celebrities.

QN “Increasingly, money is the prime motivator for many people in the world
today.” Discuss.

Question Interpretation
The keywords in this question are increasingly, prime motivator, and today.
• This is due to the fact that there are other factors that motivate people such as
ambition, altruism, social responsibility, love, friendship, family, etc.
• Increasingly is an indication of the prevailing trend gaining strength;
• today, is an indication that this practice is more socially acceptable in the present
as compared to the past, and is part of the current social psyche.

Approach
The two most common approaches to this question are to either “agree” or “disagree”
(qualified by the degree of the stance taken). However, this will create a degree of situational
inflexibility when it comes to writing the essay. The best (or the most practical) way to

19
answer this question is to acknowledge that it is largely true (given the current social
situation), and to look at the balance between the desire for money and the other motivating
factors in life. Examine why money is increasingly the prime motivator, and look at the
reasons for this.

Possible Points
Money is very important in today’s world due to 1) materialism, 2) the high cost and
standard of living, 3) people’s concern with economic and social status and lifestyles,
and that money is the means by which important things are acquired and important
goals are achieved.
What are the positive and negative consequences with the obsession/preoccupation with
money? Is there anything morally or ethically wrong with wanting money
(earned/acquired through honest means)?
Does the concern with money result in the disregard for other important things in life
(such as family, friendships, and relationships)?
Establish the balance where money is important (in the sense that it is one of the key
driving forces in life), but people still pay attention to other important aspects of life.

Pitfalls
• Do not focus on specific issues on which money has had an impact (being a
workaholic, divorces, spousal/child neglect, juvenile delinquency, etc.). This has the
tendency for the student to digress on tangential points rather than the overall picture
that the question is trying to address.
• Do not focus too much on the role of money (as the means of exchange in order to
acquire things) in social situations (the desire to get an education, a good job, why
people work hard for promotions, bonuses, etc.).
• Address the need to compare the social context of money between the present and the
past briefly, but be careful about digressing into a comparative analysis between
“what was back then” and “what is now”.
• Do not focus on money as “being the root of all evils”. The question is geared
towards addressing the issue of money being the catalyst as to why people work hard
to achieve their goals and objectives.

QN Stress is healthy. Discuss.

Question Analysis
Q – Discuss
T – Stress and health
K –is (healthy)

Absolute term(s)
1. Is

Terminology
1. Stress:
a. A mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in
response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical
health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure,
muscular tension, irritability, and depression.

2. Healthy:
a. having or indicating good health in body or mind

3. Health

20
a. Soundness, especially of body or mind; freedom from disease or abnormality.
b. A condition of optimal well-being

Important Points
In my opinion, students may confuse the notion of ‘health’ with the general notion of ‘good’.
In other words, students may misread the question as “stress is good” and not address the
‘healthy’ element of the question. Can we accept students’ answers (with no bearing on
health) based on “stress is good”? (Open for discussion)

Stress is healthy Stress is unhealthy

Everyone deals with stress. Whether it is Any stress that is long-term and brings about
stress from family, from work or school, or long-term anxiety is considered to be bad for
from any other outside source, it is a part of a person’s immune systems (and general
our daily lives. In small doses, stress can help health). Anything that turns a person’s world
motivate us as well as enable our body to get upside-down is bad stress.
through tough situations.

There is a positive kind of stress called Stress can suppress the human body's
Eustress. It keeps a person excited about life. immune system, thus leaving a person more
It is basically a desirable form of stress which vulnerable to viruses like the flu.
is healthful and gives a feeling of
contentment.

Some of the examples of Eustress are:


a. Thrill experienced while watching a
horror movie.
b. Excitement of winning a race.
c. Accomplishing a challenge
d. Joy experienced on a roller-coaster
ride.
e. Happiness felt on the birth of a baby
f. Excitement while getting wedded
g. Buying a new car and many more

Positive stress is very important for a person Increased stress hormones can lead to
to generate maximum performance and memory impairment in the elderly and
output. learning difficulties in young adults.

In healthy doses, stress can make people feel Many studies show the negative impact of
challenged, motivated and invigorated. When stress on physical health such as blood
people are routinely under- stressed, they feel pressure, heart disease etc,
bored.

The immune system may benefit from short Long-term stress is unhealthy. If a person
spurts of stress too. The type of stress a suffers from continuous stress, his immune
person may experience when he has to sit for system will suffer.
an examination could be good for the person,
says a new study.
Most stresses that activate people’s 'fight or A diet book that's out now suggests that
flight' response are considered to be good. chronic, unrelenting stress can lead to
Our fight or flight response comes way back dangerous weight gain, at least in some
when we were living in caves and walked middle-aged men and women.
around with clubs. When we were threatened

21
by predators our fight or flight response was Continual stress can substantially increase
activated. This response mechanism still the chances of heart disease and stroke.
exists in all of us and it boosts our body's
natural front-line defence against infections Stress also can contribute to different
from traumas such as bites and wounds. symptoms that impact how the body
functions. Some symptoms are chronic back
pain, tension headaches, neck pain,
gastrointestinal difficulties, and chest pain
due to anxiety attacks, skin rashes and hives.

QN ‘There is nothing wrong with being individualistic'. What is your view on this?

Question Analysis
Q – What is your view
T – Individualism
K – Nothing wrong

Absolute Term
1. nothing

Terminology
1. Individualistic
a. An individualistic person asserts individuality by independence of thought
and action.

b. An individualist is someone who does things in his own way and has
different opinions from most other people

2. Collectivism
a. Collectivism is the theory that states that the will of the people is omnipotent,
an individual must obey; that society as a whole, not the individual, is the
unit of moral value.
3. Selfish
a. caring only about oneself and not about other people

Important Points

1. Students must not confuse individualism with selfishness. They are two entirely
different concepts.

2. Individualism is therefore opposed to views based on collectivism which stress that


communal, community, group, societal, or national goals should take priority over
individual goals.

3. Individualism is also opposed to the view that tradition, religion, or any other form of
external moral standard should be used to limit an individual's choice of actions.

There is nothing wrong with being A person who is individualistic is wrong.


individualistic Collectivism is right.

Some people live life to the fullest while The whole is greater than the sum of its
some live life like everybody else does; the parts.

22
latter is not an individualistic but conformist.

An individual is someone that stands out from Specifically, a society as a whole can be seen
the normal crowd. An individual stands up for as having more meaning or value than the
what he thinks is right and his own separate individuals that make up that
convictions, no matter what the cost he must society.
pay is.

There is nothing wrong with standing up for


principles, and living without worrying about
what others may think

Individualists also are really great leaders; Individualism is destructive to an individual


they help people with the task at hand because and social interactions in general.
of the fact that they do not want to fail.

Individualism is the base of most people’s Individualism results in unscrupulous


personality. competition

Everyone is unique and that is what makes the The contention is that people who hold to
world a great place to live. such an ideal become isolated and have to
deal with the "burden of personal
responsibility for success and their
psychological well-being"

To the individualist, the truth is more "Individualism" is seen by some researchers


important than anything else. What’s wrong as a cultural aberration which is incompatible
with that? with fully satisfying interpersonal
relationships.

If individualists are wrong, the Constitution Individualism creates barriers to intimacy


of the United States which was crafted by a and healthy relationships. It is difficult to
group of individualists is wrong. reconcile individualism with the ideals
regarding romantic love, i.e., "losing" oneself
in the relationship versus maintaining
autonomy; balancing the needs for autonomy
of two people in a relationship; justifying
sacrifice or inequity in a relationship; and
dealing with individuality and freedom as
well as role requirements and obligations.

It took a great individual, Abraham Lincoln, Some people blame the high American
to stand up against a lot of people to do what divorce rate on this cultural ideal of
he thought was right. individualism. McAdams (1989) feels that
such values exact too heavy a price on
commitment to communal organizations
which are concerned primarily with "the
common good."

Martin Luther King, an individualist who


believed in his ideas empowered black people
and stood up to racists.

Politically, true individualism means

23
recognising that a person has a right to his
own life and happiness. But it also means
uniting with other citizens to preserve and
defend the institutions that protect that right.
Collectivism often sounds humane because it
stresses the importance of human needs. In
reality, it is little more than a primitive
rationalisation for sacrificing people’s desires
of others.

Collectivism is the ancient principle of


savagery. Collectivism is not the 'New Order
of Tomorrow.' It is the order of a very dark
yesterday.

Contrary to what most people think,


individualism does not mean looting others to
satisfy one's desires. Nor does it mean not
being concerned about others.

Individualism, not collectivism or altruism, is


the root of benevolence and good will among
men.

QN ‘More must be done to protect the rights of children.’ Discuss.

Question Interpretation:
QTK Analysis: Question Word- Discuss; Topic- protecting the rights of children;
Keyword- more must be done

To Pass:
Candidates must be able to describe some of the rights of children and why these rights
must be protected. Candidates must also argue whether “more must be done”.

The UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child state that every child has certain basic
rights, including
• the right to life,
• his or her own name and identity,
• to be raised by his or her parents within a family or cultural grouping and
• have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated
• the right to express his opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon
when appropriate,
• to be protected from abuse or exploitation,
• to have their privacy protected and
• their lives not be subject to excessive interference.

To Score:
Candidates must be able to argue the case for increasing the protection of children. The
reasons may include the vulnerability of children, the prevalent abuse of children, the
neglect of parents and the state on protecting the children, the importance of children as

24
future owners and leaders. The better candidate should also suggest the measures that can
be taken to protect the children which may include legislation and specific social services.

Candidates must give examples of child abuse and exploitation. Other than abuse by
parents some of the following may be included:
• child labour
• trafficking and sale of children
• use of children in armed conflicts
• commercial sexual exploitation of children
• use of children for crime

Pitfalls:
The essay should not be written with only Singapore as the context. It should not
take a narrow view of protecting the children from parental abuse only.

QN Foreign talents are detrimental to a country’s social cohesion. What are your
views?

Students need to define social cohesion as well as understand the meaning of foreign talents
before being able to attempt this question.

Social cohesion: a country’s/society’s ability to stay together in times of difficulties, being


tolerant and understanding of one another.

Foreign talents: people of other nationalities that possesses skills and abilities that a country is
in need of.
Foreign talents are detrimental to social Foreign talents are not detrimental to social
cohesion cohesion
Bring with them values that conflict with Bring in positive values that help with
the host country’s values. social cohesion.

Western’s liberal ways of working and living On the flip side of the coin, foreign talents
sometimes conflict with Asian’s conservative may bring in values that indirectly helped in
and structured way of living. forming social cohesion for a country.

For example, foreigners setting up of For example, the westerners place a higher
cable/TV networks that broadcast shows that value on scientific research and development
local population may not agree with. AXN more than that of religious teachings.
networks broadcasts show like ‘Desperate
Housewives’ that portray acceptable rampant This focus on factual explanations for all
acts of promiscuity. These acts of things in life creates a force for economic and
promiscuity are being accepted by the social development in many countries.
younger generation of a country and thus When foreign talents come to a country with
create tension between the generations. such believes, they help to propel the country
to greater economics and social heights,
Such values are being slowly accepted by creating better lives for the locals.
local societies, they are conflicting with local
values such as being faithful to one partner Such improvement in lifestyles will create a
and abstaining from pre-martial sex. deeper sense of fulfillment and increase
tolerance. This will in turn led to better social
Social cohesion is thus disrupted as people cohesion as people become more accepting of
adopt values brought about by foreign talents one another.
that conflict with local values.
One example is Singapore where foreign

25
talents help in bring in economic
development due to their values and beliefs in
scientific research.
Foreign talents cause loss of jobs that Foreign talents will create social cohesion
creates disgruntlement amongst the locals. by inspiring local communities to work
harder together.
Foreign talents are seen to be taking away
jobs from the local community. For example Foreign talents often come into a country to
in Singapore, foreign talents are employed to take up jobs vacancies that cannot be filled
teach the locals languages, like the by unqualified locals. This situation may be a
employment of Chinese teachers from China. wake up call for the local communities that
Locals will thus lose these job opportunities they need to improve in order to progress and
to foreigners. achieve high postings in their careers.

Dissatisfaction is thus generated in local This is reflected in Singapore where a large


communities and some groups like the number of foreign talents are here to take top
elderly and the less-educated will be facing jobs while locals are employed as
more employment competition. subordinates.

For example, social cohesion becomes This motivates the local communities to
problematic as the locals do not see that the pursue further education and as a whole have
Singapore Government is acting in their one common goal. This common goal of
interests and start to distrust the government becoming better at their work creates social
because of their active recruitment of foreign cohesion.
talents. Whenever there is distrust between
the people and their leaders, there maybe
potential riots and protests that threaten to cut
the threads that bind the society together.
Foreign talents pose no harm to the social
cohesion of a country as they are mostly
adaptable and open minded.
Foreign talents themselves recognize the need
to be tolerant and accepting of the local
cultures and traditions. They often try to
blend in by learning and adopting the local
cultures and traditions. This means that they
do not aim create social discontentment
intentionally.
For example, one of the events for 2007
Singapore National Day celebrations is the
official swearing in of 19 people of different
nationalities to become Singaporeans after
working here for some time. This shows that
foreign talents normally do not create chaos
but would rather live in peace and harmony
with local cultures and further enhances
social cohesion.

Ethics is no longer a relevant consideration in the modern world. Do you agree?

Ethics is a set of rules/principals that governs an individual’s actions and thoughts.

Students are expected to understand the characteristics of the modern world and answer how
such characteristics will render ethics irrelevant.

26
Ethics is no longer a relevant consideration in Ethics is still a relevant consideration in the
the modern world because … modern world because …
ethics may not bring in profit. ethics acts as the guiding light in today’s
ever changing world. Things are advancing
The profit margin is the first consideration of at light speed and whenever in doubt,
many businessmen and going against ethics ethics is used as the yard stick.
to achieve maximum profits is a common
practice. Scientific discoveries happen so fast,
technology is being upgraded at an
For example the recent focus on China’s exponential speed, that whenever new
manufacturing industry highlights this inventions pose harm to human and the
inconsideration for ethics. One example that environment, ethics is used to limit the usage
The Straits Times reported is of baby milk of such developments. Cloning and weapons
formula manufacturers using harmful but of mass destructions are all subjected to
cheaper ingredients in their formula, causing ethical considerations and are tightly
children to grow up blind or being controlled by people of high ethical
malnourished from the consumption of such standards.
products.
Ethics therefore is still a relevant
In the world of business, whenever ethics and consideration in today’s world as many
profits collide, profits will most probably changes still need ethics to act as their judge.
win.
ethics is not practical there is a gradual change of people being
more educated and knowing their
Politicians use practicality instead of ethics consumer rights. Businesses are forced to
to make policies. be ethical in their practices or else they
face negative repercussions.
Pragmatism is adopted by politicians in
making policies for the people. For example, A new trend of businesses being socially
in Singapore, it is only practical that one is responsible is emerging. This is more
expected to look after oneself for life because prominently seen in food products where
of new rules making the purchase of annuity manufacturers select healthier oil, less salt
mandatory. It used to be expected of children and sugar. In Singapore, food items that are
to take care of their aged parents. However it healthy for consumption are awarded ‘The
is no longer unethical if children do not do Healthier Choice’ label and consumers will
that. purchase these products. Thus by being
ethical, their product sells better. The older
Therefore ethics is not a valid consideration days of being only concerned with profits and
in the modern world but practicality is. not ethics are slowly being phased out.

Ethics thus again become a relevant


consideration in the modern world.

being ethical will not generate enough ethics is still the basics/fundamentals of
viewers for the mass media. governing a country.

Stiff competition and the short attention It is only ethical that all people regardless of
spans of people nowadays mean that the high race and religion be given the same treatment
interest value of a piece of news is more as they are all citizens of a same country.
important than the ethical issues involved. Many countries have adopted this basic
The mass media publish information based ethical consideration and have made laws
on their newsworthiness. Sometimes by based on fairness. Without ethics, a country
publishing such news, it breaches ethical cannot have fair administrating of laws and
boundaries. One example is the publicity of regulations to the general public.

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the private lives of celebrities. It is rather
unethical as it breaches privacy and causes Ethical laws and regulations prevent chaos in
undue stress to the celebrities. However, due a country and therefore is still a valid
to the newsworthiness of their private lives, consideration in the modern world.
such information often gets printed and sold.

This shows that in the modern world, ethics


is no longer a consideration, newsworthiness
is.

QN Travel is the best form of leisure. How valid is this statement?

Analysis: This is an evaluative question and discussion must be limited to travel being a good
form of leisure. Answers that discuss other forms of leisure without comparison to travel are
deemed irrelevant. Answers that discuss only the pros and cons of travel are also irrelevant.

Dependent factor question

Yes, travel is the best form of leisure when or if No, travel is not the best form of leisure
when or if
When it is the best form of escape from the If travelling is expensive and one can get
harrowing facts of life because it creates the greatest similar experiences without leaving the
mental, emotional and physical distance from one’s country.
normal environment and context. This makes it a - e.g. Singapore is a metropolitan
superior form of leisure as compared to other forms country with various races existing
of escape such as reading, which only allows the harmoniously. Thus, one can mix
reader to escape in the mind, but not in body. around with people of other
- A study of 19 683 American travellers nationalities and races in common
found that 86% of travel to ‘get away’ and places such as shopping malls,
are happier upon their return. language classes, multi-ethnic forums,
community centres etc.
- Instead of playing a round of golf, one
can choose to play at one of the many
renowned golf courses here, which
are also frequented by people of
diverse cultures and beliefs.

When travelling can take one to places that cannot If travelling is stressful as it requires a lot of
be found locally, which will then allow one to gain planning for itineraries and contingencies.
new and authentic experiences, that cannot be This is especially so in the current political
obtained from other forms of leisure like watching climate of uncertainties such as terrorism.
television. Other forms of leisure such as playing sports
- e.g. one cannot ski in Singapore which has do not require as much planning.
no snow or mountains. - Most basic travel insurance plans do
- Experiencing snow in Japan is not the same not cover disruptions or loss incurred
as going to Snow City. during travel due to terrorists acts.

When travelling has long-lasting benefits as If travelling endangers one’s life or places one
compared to other forms of leisure that gives instant in a precarious situation.
but temporary relieve from daily stress and pressure. - travelling by plane may be
- Those who returned from vacation are more dangerous because of terrorist
relaxed even after returning home. This violence attacks, or being in a country
effect may last from 3 weeks to 2 months. which is experiencing a political

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- A study has shown that travellers slept chaos or racial riots
about an hour longer and enjoyed three
times as much deep, rejuvenating sleep
following their vacations as they did before.
- E.g. fishing in the Maldives is more
relaxing than fishing at Changi Beach.

QN Apart from making money, why work?

B. DEFINITION OF KEY WORDS:

 ‘Apart from making money’- ‘besides getting a pay/ monetary incentive

 ‘Why’- provide reasons

 ‘Work’- physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or


accomplishment of something for which remuneration is usually
given.

C. POSSIBLE APPROACHES

 This question requires the student to consider the given factor (i.e. making money)
and provide other reasons as to why people work.
 Although it is a listing question, success in this question will depend on the student’s
ability to provide compelling arguments, which consider the different facets of work
done by different groups of people (e.g blue collar versus white collar professionals)
and these reasons should be compared with the monetary incentive (or the extrinsic
motivational aspect) to show the relative importance of other reasons.

D.POSSIBLE POINTS

Arguments/ reasons for working

1) We need to work because of the need to earn an income to satisfy basic and other needs as
well as the needs of our family/People work because they want to be financially independent.
This is the economic motive for working.

E.g People (e.g. domestic helpers, construction workers) leave their homelands to work in
other countries because they are primarily motivated by the economic gains they can reap.
They send money home and after some time, some of these workers return home after earning
a reasonable amount of money. The financial motive is evident in this case.

We need to work if we wish to have a lavish lifestyle (e.g own expensive cars, property or
other luxurious goods). In Singapore, many aspire to own a vehicle and though cars are
expensive, Singaporeans do not mind if a large part of their salary goes to financing the car
loans and maintenance charges.

2) We need to work because work enhances our self-esteem by making us feel


productive/useful in society. This is the psychological benefit of work.

E.g The government of the United Kingdom recognises how work can help disabled
individuals to gain respect in society and enhance their self-worth. To this end, they have

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come up with measures to enable the disabled to stay in work or get a job. Support like skills
upgrading and advice to employers were some of these measures.

3) Work helps to widen one’s social circle. We are social creatures and work fulfils our social
needs (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) when we interact with our colleagues and make friends.

E.g In a survey released in May 2007, Germans have come out top in terms of spending time
with their work colleagues. Nearly 60 % claimed to love spending time with colleagues both
during and outside working hours. 57% of Italian respondents also said that they love
spending time with their colleagues.

4) Work gives us the opportunity to acquire new skills and gain greater knowledge. We can
gather useful experiences and learning points from the various skills upgrading programmes
at work or through our interactions with colleagues, especially colleagues who bring with
them extensive experience and who come from different backgrounds.

E.g Challenges at work will demand workers to acquire new skills to perform their jobs
better. Canada's New Government announced in May 2007 that it will focus on improving its
citizens’ literacy skills as it recognises that literacy is an important foundational skill that is
linked to employment and quality of life. The government said that literacy skills influence
the ability to continually upgrade other skills, to remain employed and to adjust to new
demands in the workplace. This example shows that when people work, they will have to
continually acquire new skills and these will serve as continual learning. Singapore has also
recognised this and our life-long learning programmes aim to impress upon workers of the
need to upgrade their skills.

E.g Due to globalisation, many countries have been experiencing an influx of foreign talent
and these individuals bring with them their unique and rich cultures to the locals and the
workplace is one platform for locals to become acquainted with their cultures and views,
thereby broadening their horizons.

5) Work is purposeful and makes life more meaningful.

E.g Occupations in the medical, service and education fields entail service to the society and
people find fulfilment in such jobs. Until recently, social workers in Singapore were not paid
handsomely but they were still willing to take up the job because they were driven more by
passion than monetary gains.

6) Employment is one crucial factor that fuels the economy of a nation and reflects the
capability of the government of a nation/ Work is vital to the progress of a nation and its
people.

E.g The International Labour Organisation stressed this year that creation of decent and
productive jobs - not just any jobs -was a prerequisite for reducing unemployment and
slashing the number of families working but still living in poverty. This in turn is a
precondition for future development and economic growth.

E.g Nations like Singapore which manage to keep their unemployment rates low are lauded
for their efficient and far-sighted governance. The success of a country is usually gauged in
quantitative terms- in terms of economic growth- and a high labour participation is vital to
good economic growth. Good economic growth rates lead to a better life for locals.

30
Conclusion:

Although making money is an important aspect for both an individual and a nation, work
provides many other intangible benefits that may be more significant than the monetary
incentive. These intangible benefits enable one to develop as an individual and achieve
greater success in other areas of life.

http://news.gc.ca/web/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=300389
http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/012607LB.shtml
http://www.onrec.com/content2/news.asp?ID=4875

QN ‘The future of our world looks bleak.’ Do you agree with this statement?
Analysis of terms:

Terms Explanation/Definition
Future Refers to the long term political, social and
economic situation
Our world Students will be required to see the question
from both a national as well as an
international perspective. One of the crucial
question will be that of whether there is such
a thing as a “shared future” for the citizens of
the world when it seems that invariably, some
nations will rise at the expense of others
Bleak This word denotes that the future of the world
is not a good one i.e. that the world will be
plagued by political turmoil, economic
downturns, and also the instability caused by
warfare.

Possible requirements:
Question will require students to make a projection with justification of the future of the
world based on current world knowledge. This question should be interlaced with relevant
examples from around the world and also demonstrate the awareness the challenges that
might surface from saying that the world does share a one common future. Of course this is
possible if we consider this question from the angle of issues such as the environment and/or
the possibility of global conflict arising (students can draw examples from the two world
wars) and how they will possibly embroil us all in a “bleak” future.
Students can also consider what the future might be i.e. if it is not bleak, are there conditions
for us to assume that it might be a brighter future for everyone? Skills tested are similar to
question above, with some emphasis on narration and the application of the current situation
to make an intelligent hypothesis.

Areas/Issues to consider

Future of the world is bleak Future of the world is not bleak…


Decades of so-called co-operation seems to There is enhanced and increased co-operation
have yielded little fruit as can be seen from amongst countries today at a level and scale
the defunct League of Nations as well as the that is unprecedented i.e. United Nations,
oft-publicized ineptness of the UN as in the ASEAN, EU
Mynnmar Crisis and the political situation in
Zimbabwe and many of the African nations
The collapse of communism can also be said The collapse of the Bipolar world - one of the

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to have unleashed the nationalist sentiments major forces that threatened the peace and
which have resulted in ethnic genocides i.e. security of the world for more than half a
Kosovo century virtually disappeared with the
This proves that there still exists many collapse of the Berlin Wall and
“fault lines” in the world today and they still Communism as well as the former Soviet
have the potential for drawing in more Union.
nations and peoples into the conflict as was This helps to make the world a more secure
the case in the First World War place as compared to the days of MAD,
Students should also recall lectures covering nuclear crisis such as the Cuban Missile
the clashes of civilizations as espoused by Crisis etc
Huntington and Sen
History often shows that civilization has Increasing political assimilation and
always been about conflicts (most of them similarity - Today, the tendency for most
bloody). With the increase in terrorism and nations is toward a capitalist and democratic
given the uncertain situation in the Middle (this point might prove to be contentious)
East today, there is little to give us the hope system of governance as predicted by
that there can ever be world peace Fukuyama
In line wit the two points above, many rogue
and/or renegade nations and groups have
access to WMD i.e. North Korea and Iran
There are many new and pertinent issues
today that can act as powder kegs i.e. rise in
food and oil prices
The strain and stress that is being placed on
the earth’s resources could also mean that we
are heading toward a previously unknown
catastrophe

QN We live in a world of excesses. Discuss.

“Excess” can be interpreted as any extreme or radical ideology and behaviour, going beyond
what is regarded as normal and proper, more than/above what is necessary and desirable. It
has a negative connotation and types of excesses can range from info overload, media
violence, materialism/consumerism leading to wastage of resources to ideologies like extreme
liberalism and radical feminism. Social problems like addictions of all kinds, excessive
dieting/eating can be covered as well.

One dimension of the discussion can focus on the problematic nature of deciding what is
‘extreme’ or ‘normal’ and ‘proper’. The subjective nature of these terms can be illustrated
with appropriate examples as illustration. For instance, the lifestyle needs of the average
person in the first world would be considered excessive for those living in third world
countries. In fact, students can uncover the false assumption that everyone in the world can
even afford the kind of conspicuous consumption.

However, some yardsticks can be used to show that clearly some of the movements and
trends are clearly extreme: religious fundamentalism that drives followers to commit acts of
aggression, extreme dieting that leads to eating disorders, militant pro-life movements that
has seen acts of violence against doctors and their abortion clinics, consumerism that results
in environmental problems and social problems (like the debt crisis that households face), etc.
The principle of harm to self and others is one obvious yardstick.

A good discussion will not merely be a description of various types of excesses but will
examine their causes and contributing factors as well as the consequences. For example,
causes and contributing factors for materialism include:

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- the media – aggressive branding and marketing, manipulation of consumers by
advertising, glamorisation of the excesses of celebrity lifestyles
- financial institutions like banks that are all too eager to offer credit cards and loans
- the weakening family bonds where parents have little time for their families and
tend to compensate for this with material objects for their children, breeding materialism
and consumerism

Checks and balances can also be identified and evaluated for their effectiveness. The role of
the government (eg the reining in of advertorials that mislead consumers or public campaigns
to strengthen the family unit), counter-movements like No Shopping Day and the effect of
inflation/rising costs of living can be assessed. How much do these help to check this
phenomenon? Can this culture of excesses be balanced by measures taken by different
groups?

Perhaps some of these excesses are inevitable as societies become more affluent (eg
consumerism) and better educated, leading to greater awareness of issues (like environmental
conservation).

QN “Equality is still a myth.” Discuss.

Clarification of key terms


• Equality – refers to a value or ideal state in which sameness in terms of privileges,
rights, employment, etc, are conferred to everyone regardless.
• Myth – something that is not true but generally believed in and accepted and
perpetuated as truth.
• Still - something that happened / occurred in the past and continues to the present.

Overview of Question Requirements


• This is a rather controversial issue that has defied definitive answers or response.
• If students agree with the proposition, they would have to prove how equality was not
attained in the past and still is illusive presently and vice versa if they disagree.
• Having said that, students need to recognize the fact that equality is an ideal and by
that very nature is difficult to achieve and sustain.
• This however does not mean that efforts have not been made to achieve this with
some degree of success.
• But for a more nuanced treatment, students may want to make a distinction in their
understanding of Equality.
• Equality can also be seen to be an absolute concept in which differences and injustice
do not exist.
• There is therefore an element of reasonableness in this proposition which students are
advised to agree with.
• But to do justice to the concept and to accommodate its application in the real world,
students must differentiate between absolute equality and general equality.
• This will allow for the necessary balance.

Acknowledging why people think Equality is not a Myth


• If equality is seen in its general application or form that is required to be present for
any society to function effectively, then there is no myth.
• This is so because society needs to adopt a pro-equality policy for all for the society
to function effectively.
• People must believe they are seen as equal as everyone else in the society.
• Hence, there must be a certain form of equality perceived in society e.g everyone’s
equal in the eyes of the law, everyone has the right to education, women’s rights,

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no persecution of any section of society on account of race, religion etc. In this
area, modern societies have indeed gone a long way in making equality a reality.
• This is also because without this, the society will not progress and will degenerate
into conflict and anarchy.
• This will be destructive to the development of the society.
• Societies that do not practice this generally are aberrations and often do not last long.
• A case in point will be the practice of Apartheid in South Africa or Slavery in
America and much of Western Europe in the past, which had caused grievous
harm to generations of blacks.
• However, with the eventual destruction of that way of life and beliefs, and universal
recognition of rights to everyone regardless of their race or colour, equality can be
seen to have been achieved.
• Equality can therefore be considered not a myth.

But are we really Equal? Is there really Equality?


• But if we regard equality as an absolute ideal, there is a case to be made for it still
being a myth.
• The world with all its digital divides, have and have nots, is not equal. The much
proclaimed level playing field plays more to those with access to wealth, information,
technology etc. Even the concept of Communism which is based on the Utopian ideal
of equality amongst man has not been achieved and in fact proven to be a failure.
• In any social structure, there is always a power play between the powerful and the
privileged who exert their power and control over the proletariats. This is done to
derive more benefits to themselves over the common people. This can be seen even in
the power structure of the Politburo in the former USSR as well as China in which the
top Party members are given more power and privileges when compared to the rest of
the populace. Even for such societies, equality is a myth.

• In the realm of Nature itself, is there anything equal about us? In fact, it is a fact of
nature that no 2 things are ever the same. There is bound to be some variation .
• Besides, each and every characteristic of a human is determined by the genes and
the environment among other things, the result of which no two humans come out
the same!
• Not only are we not created equal but we are not developed equally by the passage
of time and the environment around us. There is a great amount of randomness in our
developing lives. A chance employment, a chance encounter with another individual,
exposure to some motivating or inspiring sources may cause a major redirection of
our individual life path to be completely different.
• Sadly, we are not even equal under the law. While we have tried to make citizens
equal under the law, the efforts fall far short of success. If you have enough money,
you can brutally kill your wife and her friend and still be a free person (OJ Simpson).
And it your are a poor person suspected of such crime there is a good possibility that
you will be severely punished, even executed .
• How much money, power and well connected you are, will have some impact on
how we are treated as citizens.

QN Is there anything a country can do to keep its most talented people?

There are “push and pull factors” or reasons on this issue but note that it concerns the
“most talented’ who can contribute to the advancement of innovation, research and
development, a vital feature of competitiveness in today’s world. They are also the group
who would possibly be candidates for leadership in society.

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Ask the question why people are drawn away from their homeland to another city or
country in the first place. There are economic, social, political, cultural, environmental,
geographical reasons and of course personal choice..
There is also the dilemma of developed countries which give citizens a good education,
recognized almost worldwide and then to find they are in great demand elsewhere and they
take up careers overseas, sometimes on a permanent basis.

Possible strategies to retain talent, local and foreign(slightly different strategies)

a) local talent needs support (scholarships) and courses of their choice in education
that develop their talent as they may never return if they have to go away to study.
b) There must be suitable job opportunities for the talented
c) Life should not be too pressurizing as constant a high stress level and overwork
drive people away
d) Too much emphasis on material success is a narrow view of life. There are those
who seek something else – sports, the arts and are marginalized in certain
conservative societies as slackers or dreamers.
e) Stiff competition (meritocracy? )from kindergarten to university makes many
people miserable so the education system should be reviewed
f) There must be sufficient education on ways to relax and enjoy leisure in addition
to provision of interesting activities for fun and relaxation.so that there is a wide
range of leisure possible.
g) The govt should seek their views and adjust policies if possible
h) The arts scene should be developed as talented people seek aesthetic appreciation
and entertainment as such things stimulate their mind
i) Inculcate and nurture, from young, a sense of identity and pride in citizenship;
make them realize they are stake-holders

However, if the talented perceive they have less freedom than they want and what they
search for is not to be found they will move away. Some come back later after the
experience and contribute more from their experience and developed skills.

QN Discuss the value of a vibrant arts scene to a world class city.

The answer should show understanding of key terms:

“value,” - its contribution to the character, uniqueness, attractiveness of life in the


cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic senses

“a vibrant arts scene,” -


a) the presence of a dynamic and rich aesthetic life in the sense of having a community
or many groups who are people with ideas, conceptualizing, innovating, designing ,
producing, performing, developing a wide range of the arts (drama film, theatre,
dance, music, painting, sculpture, fashion, design, literature etc.)

b) the presence of a sufficient number who enjoy and attend arts events and some who
are qualified to appreciate (critically discuss) the different art forms

c) of the organisation of international standard arts performances, exhibitions and events


all year round, staging world renown performers and drawing an audience that
includes foreigners who fly in from other countries, collaborating with other cities
and arts centres/ musuems.

“world class city” -

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a) a city which has a high standing and influence on others and claims to
have reached a high standard of living; it should have achieved quality of life in
many aspects comparable with the top cities of the world – e.g. London, New
York, Paris, Tokyo and now Shanghai or Beijing and
b) has a sufficient percentage of citizens who are active in one way or
another in the arts scene, many of whom are rich and interested enough to support
and participate in arts events.
c) a city which has excellent arts venues – theatres, museums, has the latest technology
necessary for elaborate arts projects
d) has talent (e.g. musicians, orchestra conductors, film directors, sound/ lighting
experts etc) to make arts events or projects possible.

What is the value of a vibrant arts scene to a world class city?


a) it helps make it ‘world class.” It is part of the identity of world class cities to have
a rich arts scene - it is not world class without it
b) it attracts people from all over the world so it will attract the talented (who may
do R&D etc), the wealthy (with money to invest), the entrepreneurs(who like to
be in a stimulating environment), the innovators and inventors (who are inspired
by the arts) to work and live in such cities, raising the quality of its workforce
and possibly producing new ideas
c) it enriches the life of such cities with its cosmopolitan residents and diversity of
cultural and artistic activities and events
d) It is a source of fun, excitement and satisfying leisure activities (quality of life)
for all interest groups
e) It gives a city its unique character according to what it is famous for
f) It is educational, enriching the citizens in the arts reflecting their citizenship in a
cultured world class city
g) It could lead to the establishment of institutions for teaching and training in the
arts e.g. SOTA, Yong Siew Toh Academy etc thereby supporting the rich arts
scene with performers and audience
h) It balances life in a world class city which is usually preoccupied with commerce,
industry and politics.

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