Associate Professor Lim Lee Ching shared about the significance of having a place for cultural education. His insights can be found in chapter 15 of the anthology The Heart of Learning, an essay titled ‘The Place of Cultural Education’. This book was produced in 2017 by the university to commemorate its transition to an autonomous university.
Written by Edmund Sim
Culture and education are instrumental in shaping a society. They also exert great influence over one’s way of life and is almost impossible to determine which has greater significance over the other.
With the rising tide of technology, competition between humans and robots is becoming inevitable. Job displacement from machine automation has raised demands for teaching of skills and values that cannot be undertaken effectively by robots. Individuals having qualities such as critical thinking, strong cultural and language literacy will not just set them apart from their peers but will also make them valuable contributors to society in many ways.
So how can society find more space for culture and language literacy in its ecosystems?
Here, we shall share four pieces of advice from Associate Professor Lim on raising one’s level in culture and language literacy:
1. Read widely, beyond academic and professional interest. Read randomly and purposefully. Knowledge is the primary factor that distinguishes adaptability and dexterity between humans and robots. It is also the fuel that drives life and a tool to meet the demands of success.
2. Explore and make travelling experiences count. On top of chasing food, shopping and Instagrammable moments, be immersed in the local culture. Read the local papers, meet the seniors, spend time in the residential heartlands, go to the local markets, visit the museums and libraries. Strive to broaden your perspective and build lasting community relationship.
3. Be skeptical. Learn to ask why. Learn to assert why not. Learn the infinite ambiguity that rests between why and why not. Question every bit of data that is available. Keep asking “so what” until there is no more “so what” to ask. Challenge the dominant narrative. Louder is not “right-er”. Learn to resist confirmation bias. Understand what Occam’s Razor is. Assume the “Other’s” perspective. Understand that the world is not binary. Understand that not everything is “subjective”. Understand that not everything is a “social construct”. Understand that not everything is liminal.
4. Shut down the digital device from time to time. Go read a book.
A strong foundation in culture and language will result in more rounded individuals, providing the ability to see things from different perspectives and to make informed decisions. It will also encourage the celebration of diversity, making communities tolerant and pleasant to be in.