So there have been many jokes made about the new name of Eunoia JC. There have also been many criticism. Including how the MOE people may have gotten the pronunciation and meaning wrong. Even mainstream media has come in to criticise the choice of name (how rare for Straits Times to criticise something that the Government has done…).
Then I read that apparently most of the students who will be going to the new JC (i.e. those in the Integrated Programme in Catholic High School, St. Nicholas’ Girls’ School and Singapore Chinese Girls School) do not like the name. A Secondary Three student from Catholic High School said most of his schoolmates “either didn’t know how to comprehend” or “made jokes” about the name. He said: “Some think it’s just a terrible choice” and added that a popular suggestion from students was “Trinity” because it represents the three schools coming together.
Apparently, MOE came up with the name ” after consultations with stakeholders, including students, parents and staff of the three partner secondary schools, as well as chairmen and representatives from the three secondary school boards and Eunoia JC Advisory Committee. The name was chosen as it resonated best with the college’s vision, mission and values.”
And this is my main problem – the whole process of how the name was chosen. As much as MOE can say that there were consultations with stakeholders, it was probably a committee in MOE that eventually chose the name. Why should that be? There are already a group of students who are definitely going to be admitted into the new JC. Shouldn’t they be the ones who should have the last say about the name? After all, that JC is the capstone of their six years of education before they join University. Aren’t they be the most important stakeholders whose opinions should count the most?
Or perhaps the very intelligent and sagacious officials in MOE felt that students are too young, too immature, too witless to be able to come up with and choose a meaningful name? And thus the very intelligent and sagacious officials in MOE decided to take this very heavy responsibility upon themselves. If that is the case, then it does not set a good foundation for developing the ethos of the school, which aims to develop their every of their student into “a Youth with Purpose, Thinker with Heart, Leader with Courage”. The way that the name was chosen clearly demonstrated that MOE is merely paying lip-service to this “vision”.
How should MOE have come up with the name if MOE truly believed in the purported vision of the new JC? It should have guided the students from the three schools who will eventually go to this new JC to drive the entire process of naming the new JC. Set the parameters, specify clearly the image and “branding” the name should project. Then let the students brainstorming the names, consulting the different stakeholders, pitching the names to the different stakeholders for the different stakeholders to shortlist three. Throughout, MOE officials and teachers of the schools could give suggestions, provide advice, and, gently guide students if they have really gone completely on the wrong track. Then, finally, it should have been the students who then vote for the name for the school.
If MOE had done that, then the entire process would become an excellent opportunity for the students to learn, develop and grow. And, as research has found, there is a correlation between the expectations of teachers (and significant adults) and the performance and ability of students. Besides, the name was chosen after a process that was primarily driven by students, I am sure no matter what the name is, there would be far less criticisms. Because far fewer people would be so mean as to ridicule the hard work of teenagers.
So why didn’t MOE do that? Perhaps it’s because our government, regardless of what they say about being more engaging, is still pretty much top-down and still quite heavy-handed. So is it any wonder that MOE won’t change the name despite there being such public ridicule and most students who will be going to the new JC hating the name? No, of course not. There is a greater chance of a person being the sole winner of group 1 prize in TOTO twice in a row. Or a snowflake surviving in hell.
[Featured image: temporary site of Eunoia JC at Mount Sinai. Photo by Hani Amin from CNA website]