15 October 2005

Tharman's Grand Vision - an allegory

Because rench00, myself and coupdegras are interested in the recent announcements of (yet another) educational reform, here's something to chew over: Will the reforms really do away with educational elitism? Names have been changed to protect actual civil servants.

Also, refer to the excellent essays by Wei, who is reading for his MA in Education.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately ivory tower decree:
Where once there was but only one
There is now a multiplicity
Of routes newly hewn;
So all may according to their ability
Rise to the peak on paths of their own.
And here the imperial message thunders,
Trumpets blaring from bannered towers.

But oh! In the courtyards among the flowers
A powdered courtier leisurely paces.
In tones hushed and dulcimer,
Immeasurable with prophesy or weariness
He twitters, a crone hand on your shoulder:
"But if every man were allowed to excel,
And to the fullest extent, fulfill himself?
Who then, shall command? And who then shall serve?"

09 October 2005

Singapore's Climate of Fear


My tuition kid has deconstructed, at the tender age of 13, the Straits Times forum page!

It's easy to get a letter published there, following 5 simple rules.

1. Describe an incident/series of incidents that happened to self or self witnessed.
2. Describe danger, trauma, anguish, or frustration experienced or may potentially experience.
3. Extrapolate to put entire population at risk.
4. Make your point: I VERY SCARED (or angry)!
5. Query: Will the relevant authorities please look into this?

Examples (in both ST and Today) include:

Ceiling tile at shopping centre fell, narrowly missing self. I VERY SCARED.
Can mosquitoes spread dengue from one person to another? I VERY SCARED.
Blogging is so dangerous! I VERY SCARED.
My son was advised by one doctor to wear specs and another not to. How? I VERY SCARED.
Taupok is very dangerous to our kids. I VERY SCARED.
Will the relevant authorities please look into this?

As you can see, Singaporeans live in a perpetual climate of fear.

07 October 2005

Cultural Arrogance Supremacy

Mr Wang gets into fits whenever he reads the Straits Times. Consequently, more than half the entries in his blog fall into the category of "ST stupidity of the day". I get annoyed by our national newspaper propaganda press, but not to that extent. The media of my choice has to be television. Whenever I turn on the set to any of our national stations, the random stupidity of the news and the lack of quality in its tv productions would make me scream within 5 minutes.

When Twiddledum and Twiddledee merged early this year, Channel U was spared the chops. Viewers should now be happy that the "revamp" of the station (the programming hardly changed) and its new branding will ensure more of the same dramas that MediaworksTV has been showing.

Of course, the cosmetic revamp (in part to delete all traces of MediaworksTV's existence) has to be accompanied with a new ad campaign to be played incessantly on every channel: 带动亚洲流行!

Will someone please tell those yellow skin chauvinists that Asia is not HK, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan? Where oh where are the trendy Indian, Iranian, Indonesian, Egyptian, Turkish, Middle Eastern dramas on Channel U?

06 October 2005


My recent posts have attracted some email feedback from readers.

I'll say this just once: I'm not a school superintendent in charge of a certain western cluster in Singapore. In fact, I'm not even employed by the Ministry Of Education. There may be a low-level witch hunt going on to find out the identity of the snitcher who's posting all the embarrassing photos of schools in Singapore, and it's fair to pre-empt the loss of innocent livelihoods and career advancements by making this statement.

That said, this will be my final school story for some time to come.

We were at another primary "super school" in the west of Singapore. Yes, there are super schools even at primary level, and even the Ministry uses such language in everyday conversations. It wasn't too long before all of us noticed a most unique thing about the students - a few of them had uniforms decked with more badges than an active scout.

We counted: these students had 6 to 8 badges, some shaped like name-tags, some like circular military badges. And we took a close look. The badges were:

Star Pupil
Group Leader
Science Monitor
Maths Monitor
Arts Monitor
Energy Savings Monitor

When we raised the issue, the teachers explained that:
1. Good pupils tend to be given positions of authority
2. Those who lead in one area can obviously lead in other areas
3. Therefore, there are a few students in each class who wear badges, and when they do, they wear many badges.

Yes. I can see why we must start them young, so that the students can be groomed into future leaders of Singapore, who are dedicated to the concepts of meritocracy and incorruptibility.

This is Napola. These are Minilee's Elites.