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Our boys visited Siloso Beach Resort on Wednesday 4 Sep 2013 and learnt about what makes SBR an eco-resort. They visited the Wormery, the rooftop nursery and vegetable garden, one of the luxurious villas, the eco-friendly swimming pool, and other locations in the resort.

They had a chance to compare their own efforts at worm-rearing and vegetable-growing with those of the professionals at SBR.

Our boys visited a local butchery to better understand how meat products are made ready for local sale and consumption.

Here are some photos of the boys getting orientated to SJI’s rooftop farm where they will soon be planting their very first crop of vegetables.

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As we arrive at the end of the first term, we are nearing the end of our very first cycle of World & Me. Here is a brief summary of what our students experienced as they explored the issue of Food:

Food — Scarcity & Need

  • Stage 1: Food Diary or Fridge Hunt
    • students tracked the sorts of food they consumed and noted their origins
  • Stage 2: Food Miles or Food Atlas
    • students mapped out the routes taken by their preferred foods from “farm to fork”
  • Stage 3: Humanities
    • students learnt how to compare and evaluate print and pictorial sources (especially in relation to famine in Sudan)
  • Stage 3: English
    • students learnt verbal communication through the creation of an original rap, poem, or song dealing with the topic of food
  • Stage 3: Science
    • students learnt how to test for key nutrients in food
    • students also learnt about various malnutrition diseases
  • Stage 4: My vocation in the world
    • students reflected on particular Areas of Concern on the issue of food, guided by their personal values
  • Stage 5: An action project
    • students banded together with like-minded peers to carry out advocacy and action projects related to the issue of food, such as urban vegetable farming, and  food waste recycling

This term the boys have been learning about food. As part of this, they visited Kin Yan Agrotech in the Kranji Countryside area of highly urbanised Singapore.

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Reports out of the secretive ‘hermit kingdom‘ suggest that the suspension of food aid resulting from its continued attempts to launch rockets may well precipitate a ‘hidden famine‘ and possibly cannibalism.

Little can be known for certain about the realities inside North Korea, notwithstanding recent visits by prominent visitors.

Is food is being used as tool, even a weapon?

Who will help deal with the potentially disastrous consequences on the ground?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Given recent developments at In Amenas in Algeria, has a new front in the so-called “war on terror” been opened in the Sahel? Who is responsible for this “escalation”?

French President Francois Hollande who ordered French troops into action in Mali.

Islamist militant Belmokhtar who allegedly led the attack on the Algerian gas plant.

Members of the Algerian special forces, also known as the kouksoul, attend a training in Biskra, south of Algiers in this June 28, 2007 file photo. -Reuters Photo

How long will the French and other European powers be embroiled in this fast-changing conflict in North Africa?

There is growing anxiety in Singapore about education. For a start, we have parents worrying about what their children are expected to learn in school. This case is not atypical:

SINGAPORE – Diurnal.Anemometer.Navvy. Osseous. Philately.

These are some of the words in Creative Vocabulary 6, a book which is on a 2013 list of reading materials given to pupils from a primary school in the west.

And such sentiment has been echoed by politicians as well:

SINGAPORE – Unless education policies change, the less well-off may find it harder to move up the socio-economic ladder.

That is PAP candidate for Punggol East Koh Poh Koon’s big worry.

A bus driver’s son, Dr Koh is today a colorectal surgeon with his own private practice at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

He studied medicine at the National University of Singapore and won government scholarships to further his training overseas.

“Education was a social leveller in my time, and without it I wouldn’t be here,” the 40-year-old told The Sunday Times.

“Today, I’m not quite sure education is still the same social leveller it was 20, 30 years ago. It seems if you don’t have the means to put your kids through tuition, you may not catch up,” he added.

This concern about the lack of equity and the role played by money and markets in a social good like education has been recognised, most notably by Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel.

We should be worried about this trend for two reasons. First, as money looms larger in our societies, affluence – and its absence – matters more. If the main advantages of affluence were the ability to afford yachts and fancy vacations, inequality would matter less than it does today. But, as money comes to govern access to education, health care, political influence, and safe neighborhoods, life becomes harder for those of modest means. The marketization of everything sharpens the sting of inequality.

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How should social goods like education be allocated? What would be equitable? Does our system need reform? Singapore has already been branded a “tuition nation“. Do we need change? What needs to change? If we do, can the government alone bring about this change? Is what the Ministry of Education already doing enough?

Are there ethical issues that arise when a game attempts to simulate an actual ongoing conflict where:

On the other hand, the creators of Endgame:Syria see themselves and their work more as a kind of journalism than entertainment:

We are the world’s first news correspondents who cover global events as games. As news breaks, we create own own twist on events in a playable form. We are gamers at heart, so we speak game fluently – we also share an interest in the real world too and so want to explore what is going on around us. We think that one way to explain news is via the international language of play, so we use games as a medium to explore issues and events: we game the news.

But have we blurred the lines between news reporting and trivial entertainment a bit too much here?

Is this an example of successful multi-national cooperation tackling trans-national crime? The combined maritime forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden seem to be making some headway against the pirates.