Not smart enough?

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.

Wine knowledge
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.


One thought on “Not smart enough?

  1. I actually like the idea of the course. The specifics I might disagree with. But in general I find many students do not know how to conduct themselves once they get into the business world. All too often they set their pattern by the first business person who installs themselves as a mentor. But I do not blame this on the text/short message culture. Rather I blame it on a lack of oppertunity for students to learn from their parents. Obviously if a student does not grow up in an environment of business parents they never getthe chance. Perhaps they learn only from TV or the movies and that will never do. Even students whose families are in business do not often afford their children the chance to learn “grown up” social skills. This has always been the case though so what is worse now? Perhaps nothing except that we expect younger employees to do things that only older ones used to do. A lot to think about here really.

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