I break the silence (despite the fact that I should really be studying for my exams right now, instead of writing a post expressing my rather blatant displeasure) that had been on this blog for quite some time, since the last post by our dear PeaceKeeper. Perhaps it is discreet to say that certain events that happened in the instituition that I belong to, catalysed my urge to pen this rather unpleasant post (proclaiming some ugly insight which have the possibility of being opinions) and before I proceed, a discretion that the comic above may not be directly applicable in the context of this post.
My response to the traditional notion of “spare the rod, spoil the child” is that the rod, should and only be held and used by the primary authority of the child, also known as parent(s). But the big irony is the bipolar demand the current parenting community have for schools (especially so for parents of primary school students today): one on hand, parents expect schools to enforce discipline on their children; but at the same time, cannot bare for their precious ones to face the cruel (and at times emotionally tramautic) experience of punishment. I believe that the duty of discipline should be bared by parents only, in cases of failure to manage their children, this responsibility can only be given up voluntarily.
Labelling is also a major issue in my opinion. As mentioned in my previous posts about education, the social hierarchy constructed based on traditional Confucianist name-rectification is largely responsible for the outcome of this power obedient, inflexible and even, at times, manipulative state. But what many fail to realise is the fatal flaw in this system, is the assumption that the leader or person in power at the top of this hierarchy is “people-centred” or in Confucian’s words “human-hearted” – which means to rule in the interest for the people and for the good of the people. You might ask, what has this got to do with the education system?
In fact, it has everything to do with the education system. Firstly, this organisation of power makes the education system back-ward and it turns off passionate young teachers. For the fact that in most situations (like in my school for instance), “orders from above” are taken, even if incomplete, uncertain or lacking a confirmed policy. Some traditional practises (which believed by some from the older generation to be useful) might actually be ineffective and inflexible in nature, the inability to open up to change or new ways of doing things breed a stubborn-ness and force students to make their way around the boundaries.
Rectification of names is also detrimental to the being of students, in their period of self discovery, by condemning them to a label fixated by the principles of another person. By inhibiting personal expression (be it in speech or appearance) in discovery is destroying individualism, which is its purpose nonetheless, in a society that worships community and demonises individualism with the brand of “selfishness”. This is increasingly outdated, in the time of Generation Y, and not only that but I also believe this ideal transcends age. This period of self discovery, is like the metaphor of chance described like an open window, once it’s closed and the opportunity is lost forever. By oppressing expression is to breed rebellion, by drawing a line is to invite someone to cross it, by labelling everything either black or white is to lose an entire spectrum of colours.
While this hierarchy is not only built on education, societal norms and expectations of course shape the system too. And with young fresh teachers hindered from making the change they wanted to see in their own education due to the lack of power and say in implimenting their ideas; the “chi” is blocked in the movement for revolution. I believe Singapore is ready to make the change if people are willing to forgo their pride in a failing philosophy and biased ideals (or is it caused by the vicious cycle of ego) and have the trust in the generation of teachers produced in the system they believed in. It might be naive of me to have the optimism, but the folly might be what I need to believe in the change I want. Well, belief is the birth of probability.
Or else, even in the Darwinist world of education, our system would fail us not now, but in the future generation of unthinking, babysitted, yet over-qualified leaders of our country.
And for me? I guess that remains the inevitable truth that wherever you are, as long as you breathe the air in that place, no matter big or small, you are obliged to play by their rules. I believe that’s the same for public schooling, it’s meant to cater to the masses, and at times much is dispensed in the name of “order”. I too, even with this post that may sound like a breathless rant when I wake from this fit of frustration, will have to return to my place as a fellow follower in my iron-pressed uniform, dorned with the school badge; and silence the deviated voice inside me. Lest thy blasphemous tongue lead to hot waters.