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University Education and the Defect of Reason June 13, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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And so the “Wars of the Roses” in the blogosphere continues. with the KTM, the self declared neutral (though de facto he is pro establishment) doing a post on University education. As said earlier, it is important in this debate to distinguish the two issues, namely, the criteria for university admissions and the “generosity” to the foreigners.

 With regards to the University admissions, I have nothing much to add as much has been discussed by some of the more level headed commentors on Aaron’s, Mr Wang’s, Bart’s and the KTM’s posts. What I do want to add is a certain story with regards to the issue.

Certain courses in the local universities do require one to sit for interviews and some even require the applicants to sit for further tests. A long time ago Ned was one of the applicants. Unfortunately Ned was thoroughly trounced during the interview and sent running with his tail between his legs. Such failure naturally made one bitter. However before one concludes that Ned was one of them whiners, the story does not end. Naturally Ned decided to prepare for the next battle and to channel his bitterness into constructive use. So rather than do what Aaron says he did,  namely not to blame zheng hu and carry on, Ned continued to be du lan but did not in anyway allow this to affect him. Rather than sit on his bottom and whine he stood up and whined all the way 😛

Eventually he faced the same interview (albeit different interviewers) and was asked this question, ” So do you think the system is fair?”

And that, is a loaded question. It is undeniable that many people who have been rejected will be quick to jump the “unfair” bandwagon and call for crucifixions and what have you. Opposing something reflexively without any thought is a sign of gross stupidity. Before whacking the system indiscriminately people should pause to consider whether they would be doing the same if they had been successful. While those who have benefited from the system should not sneer at those who have not benefited so much, likewise those who have not benefited should not in anyway hide behind a veil of self pity and blindly hit out at everything about the system. But that is what is happening here! There are people engaging in ad hominems and refusing to even engage or acknowledge the other side. This situation is not dissimilar to the debate on homosexuality where emotions and not reason rule the day.

And back to the interview process? While it is undeniable that some of the more deserving (but this is highly subjective) are denied a place (as Ned felt that he had been denied those years ago) the fact of the matter is the system of interviews is a rather practical one. It is true that people can wayang their way through the interviews, no doubt some people can attest to such a situation. However it is unrealistic to expect a faculty to actually shadow applicants 24/7 just to find out their personality and all. There is currently no practical method to assess the true character of a person (in fact some people never show their true colours until its too late; ie TT Durai, David Rasif etc). And if you consider it, the interview is rather fair given that people normally judge a person based on first appearance and first impression thus if you cannot give a good impression then people will tend to discount you at first glance. Such is the principle behind the interview system.

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