No, they are KEY to our lives.
1. Developing a deeper understanding of RI’s identity, heritage, values and principles
Stories play an important part in the process of helping students become Rafflesians because they allows us to develop a deeper understanding of the values and principles that relate to the school’s ethos and culture.
Raffles Institution has a rich history and traditions that date back more than 200 years, and there are many stories and legends associated with the school that highlight the achievements, struggles, and values of past students and staff.
In his book Raffles Institution: 1823-2003, author Kevin YL Tan discusses how stories of the school’s founding and early years have helped to shape RI’s culture and identity. For example, he writes that the school was originally founded as a charity school for boys, with the aim of providing education to the underprivileged. Over time, this mission evolved to include the goal of nurturing leaders and thinkers who could contribute to Singapore’s growth and development. By learning these early stories, and the values that underpin them, current Rafflesians can gain a deeper appreciation for the school’s culture and history and consequently, gain a sense of identity and belonging to the Raffles community. This can help them feel more connected to the school and to other Rafflesians, which enhances their overall experience at RI. Stories of how past Rafflesians overcame challenges and achieved great things can also inspire students to aim high and strive for their personal best.
In her book The Rafflesia, author Emily Lim explores the history and culture of Raffles Institution through a series of stories and anecdotes. One of the stories she tells is about the school’s crest, which features the Latin motto ”Auspicium Melioris Aevi” (Hope for a Better Age). She explains how this motto embodies the school’s values of excellence, service, and leadership, and how Rafflesians can embody these values in their own lives. By learning about the school’s crest and motto, students can gain a deeper appreciation for the school’s identity and heritage as well as the contributions of its alumni to Singapore and beyond.
2. Developing critical thinking in students
Stories can also help to develop critical thinking skills in Rafflesians. By engaging with stories and narratives, students can analyse and evaluate different perspectives and ideas, and to develop their own critical thinking skills. This is important for Rafflesians who are expected to be able to think independently and critically to solve complex problems.
In the book The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, the author explores various cognitive errors that can prevent clear thinking. He notes that one of the most important skills for clear thinking is the ability to evaluate evidence and arguments critically. He says that reading and engaging with stories can help individuals develop their critical thinking skills by exposing them to different perspectives and arguments. By analysing and evaluating the different perspectives and ideas presented in stories, students learn to identify biases, assess the credibility of sources, and differentiate between fact and fiction. This is particularly important in the digital age, where there is a vast amount of information available online, and it can be challenging to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources.
Teaching students to be critical consumers of stories and information is a crucial skill that can help them navigate the complex world we live in today. By developing their critical thinking skills, Rafflesians can become more discerning and better able to evaluate the stories they encounter in their daily lives, both online and offline.
In short, stories play a crucial role in shaping the culture and identity of Raffles Institution and help Rafflesians to understand the school’s ethos, values, heritage, and identity. They inspire students to aim high, foster a sense of belonging, and develop critical thinking skills, which are essential in the digital age. Stories are an integral part of becoming a Rafflesian and they make you wonder how life was like in RI, perhaps for your parents or your teachers: what were the small moments of joy that past Rafflesians shared with their friends?
I would strongly encourage readers to check out the Raffles Archives and Museum whenever you are free, be it during recess time or before an after-school programme. You can also dive into these stories in the StoRIes of RI Mandarin Language Book given out to all students in 2023 as well as the Some Dreams From Now: RI 200 Anthology that was published in celebration of RI200.These stories help us learn more about RI, how to improve for the better as a Rafflesian and how to navigate our student journey.