“Did you know that Mount Everest is littered with dead bodies? Apparently it’s too dangerous to move the bodies, even if they’re still breathing. So they all end up looking like toys that some kid left lying on the floor and forgot to keep. So all those bodies on the mountain… They all died trying to reach the top.”
— from Faith Ng’s ‘Normal’ (Checkpoint Theatre)
Recently, Secondary 1 girls in St Nicks watched several scenes of a play entitled “Normal” and engaged in a sharing with the playwright too. My blog post has been inspired by this experience.
“Normal” is about the Singapore education system. It is set in a fictional school where two girls from the Normal Academic stream face the problems of school life in Secondary 5. I must admit, I have not seen the entire play but it did raise a concern – is the Singapore education system bringing students down? Singapore indeed has a reputation for having some of the smartest and best students in the world. Many are lawyers and doctors. I, myself, have also realised the stress Singapore puts on getting these “good” jobs. Those who have a talent or liking in the Arts are usually bound for a life of misery, not being able to fulfil their dream without being judged by society.
The competitiveness of Singaporeans just adds fuel to the fire. You may have heard stories about “typical” Singaporean mothers who talk about their children. How successful they are, how respected they should be – it all depends on their child’s grades. This just causes a rift between parent and child when expectations are set too high. The child, having trouble to reach the standard, crumbles and will feel isolated and helpless. I think that just isn’t right. Putting down certain children who may not be that academically smart is just not right. This doesn’t teach them about self-worth, curiosity or the love for learning. Indeed the real world may be harsh, maybe even harsher than that. But that doesn’t mean that we let children just fall through the cracks. Let children be children. Let them learn and discipline them of course but also nurture them. That is what I think about Singapore’s education system as of now, but we all know, opinions always change, don’t they?
Jaime Ng 1 Loyalty