Picked this off beat article from the Economist’s News from the Schools section.
Reacting to feedback from recruiters about graduates’ lack of social graces, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is starting etiquette classes for its under- and post-graduate business students. The classes, compulsory for all MBA students entering the school from August 2007, will cover Western dining, Japanese tea appreciation, wine knowledge, grooming and formal communication skills.
Foo Yuk Meng, head of NUS’s MBA careers services, says he at first feared that declining standards might be a solely Asian phenomenon. But talks with his American and European counterparts convinced him it was a global problem. He believes a culture of text-messaging and short e-mails has eroded traditional business-communication skills; he says several Western schools are looking at following NUS’s example.
Berno: I think it’s unfair to attribute the declining social graces to the culture of SMSs and short emails. I feel that in this case, the University has over stepped in its education duties. Rather, I question the objectives of the remedial “social grace” course.
Japanese tea appreciation?
“Oh, this sencha taste so refine and delicate, it must be from Uji.” – I only mentioned Uji here, because it is the only tea growing region in Japan which I’m familiar.
What worse if someone is pretend to know about wine and plays out what’s being taught in school among real wine connoisseurs.
I picked on these two topics because it risk being phoney. I can relate to the need for professional business communication, international culture awareness and differences and how to handle difficult situations. But let’s not pretend, not all Singaporeans are into wine appreciate and tea drinking. Now, getting silly drunk is a different matter altogether.
The point I’m driving at, being sincere in our interaction should be enough. Show genuine interest in the person you engage and display basic manner and respect the people around is sufficient. Why is Singapore education system still trying to rolling out robots and parrots?
Maybe there are others who think such classes are necessary. If so, how does this need reflect of the students? Need to spoon feed on everything thing? That just deprieves one from the joys of learning.