Steph's Friend

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Observations On A Saturday

I was in the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) on my way to school when I saw this family. In front of me was this pregnant lady coaching her daughter on how to tackle the 9 x 9 Sudoku quiz. She sounded quite fierce with phrases like "Are you sure it's there?" and "You think carefully first." The poor girl had to crack her head to do those exercises. Then it came to me. We are living in Singapore! Primary school children are starting to learn stuff I learnt in secondary schools. Children are sent for ballet, piano and etiquette classes. All these in the name of kiasu-ism. It's true that Sudoku does help your brain exercise and all, but ultimately, it's a hobby - something that should de-stress you and not stress you up.

All of a sudden, the girl beside me called the girl in front of me who was busy with the Sudoku. Apparently, they are sisters! Guess what the girl beside me was doing. She was doing crossword puzzles! Oh man, talking about early education and all. If it's her hobby, it's fine, but if it is for the sake of I-want-my-child-to-be-smart, then I guess it's quite a sad reality. There in front of me was one on Sudoku and beside me on crosswords. The one on the crosswords seemed to enjoy it while the one in front of me wished she was at Disneyland.

Then the mother said something like, "If the 9 is here and the 5 is there, what do you think this space should be?" The girl kept quiet, obviously in deep thought. "Well, going by logical deduction, we can eliminate these two numbers right?" Wow. Logical deduction. That would sound very foreign if I were her age.

Oh well, elitism is something that some strive for, so what harm can a little "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" and "Exercitationes" do before bedtime? You've heard of playing classical music for babies who are still in the womb and soft instrumental music for sleeping toddlers. So I guess this is nothing strange. I guess parents are just worried that their children would not make it to EM1 and be in the top 5 Junior Colleges. Being educated and highly-skilled has become so important in society so much so that without them, the individual is deemed as a lower-class citizen. Though not announced out loud, it is as real as the increase in GST.

The next thing I noticed was that the pregnant lady was not wearing any rings. Hm...I assume that she is married to be pregnant and have 2 girls. Unless of course things are otherwise which can be quite ugly. What puzzled me was why did she not wear her ring? I mean she's married right? Unless the ring came from some 50-cents dispenser machine, I don't see why she should be ashamed of the fact that she's married. Well, for all you know, she may have kept it in fear of a robbery or any other reason. Then comes the question. Should a couple wear the rings exchanged during marriage? Or is the ring just a material thing without any significance? To each his/her own views.

Suddenly the little girl in front of me submitted her Sudoku exercise to her mother who began checking her daughter's work. It reminded me of a scene between tuition teachers and students. She began to check the rows and columns for any mistakes. Meanwhile, the little girl just sat down and looked around.

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Anonymous teddY said...

Thinking through, I think everyone is kiasu. I mean, not only Singaporeans. Malaysians who call Singaporeans "kiasu people" are also kiasu themselves. In both countries, we can see parents forcing their children to go the many many different tuition classes (like me, when I was in Primary school friday = no life because I'll have tuition until 10pm... gah!), force them to learn things that they do not want / not interested in (like how my neighbour forced her son to learn piano and violin), stuff lots and lots of food during buffet (even if we can't finish), copy what other people are doing (if you're doing maths tys then I go home and do 10 pages more than you) and etc.

In fact I was numb to all this kiasuness. I grew up in a kiasu Malaysian society, entered the Singaporeans kiasu soceity at 13. Found that the competitive culture of both nations are almost the same (maybe because we're only a causeway apart?). Sort of sad. People say Malaysian and Singaporean kids have no childhood, and I must agree.

In my JC there are these sly (and kiasu) people who steals lecture notes, self-made notes, assignments, tutorials and even your pencil box just to hamper your effort in studying for lecture tests, block tests and promotional exams. The education system is getting so off track. Everyone is memorising instead of actively learning (like what people do in US and etc.)

Some people say kiasuness is derived from the feeling of "loving yourself". But this is overexpression of the "loving yourself" feeling. Look at people from foreign countries. They do love themselves and people around them, but astonishingly they ain't kiasu...

But thanks for sharing your insight on this issue... proving me that it's not only me that thinks so =)

1:15 PM, November 19, 2006  
Blogger Steph said...

Wow! That's like a very loooong comment Teddy but interesting nonetheless.


Relax, we are not alone. I have friends who think that reciting the periodic table in the toilet is kiasu too...haha.

7:59 AM, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Gabriela said...

I love Sudoku!!! But I just do it for fun. I hate when someone tries to pressure me into doing something, like that little girl.

Nice blog. =)


2:50 AM, November 21, 2006  
Blogger Steph said...

Thanks Gabriela :)

True, I myself don't like it when someone pressures me when it's suppose to be a hobby/past-time.

9:17 AM, November 21, 2006  

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