S'pore can still feel like a foreign land to me

Our lead story is a stark reminder that although I have lived here for over a decade, Singapore can still prove a very foreign land.

A video of a pupil talking back to his teacher went viral.

In the UK, where I come from, this video wouldn't have raised a stink. It would have been regarded as typical.

The average state school in the UK is rampant with minor rebellion. A friend who went back to our old school as a teacher told me: "Remember how we were? That was nothing."

And mind you, we skipped lessons, gave a boatload of attitude, damaged a room - the list goes on.

Looking back, we were hateful. Cruel to the point that we could cause our teachers a nervous breakdown. And that is, by today's standards, tame.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2012 that he wanted "real discipline, rigorous standards and hard subjects".

Many would agree that at root is a lack of discipline. The inflexion point could have been when corporal punishment was abolished.

The cliché now is that students, once confronted about their bad behaviour, start spouting off about how they know their rights.

And it also lies with UK parents. They want their offspring to be looked after and educated. But woe betide the teacher who tells them their child needs to be set straight.

So that's the UK, what about here? Our poll suggests people are worried about declining respect and discipline here and want teachers to have more power in the classroom.

But can that be put into practice?

Teachers have to contend with the need to make their charges excel. Whoever is left to deal with discipline?

Kids need parameters, that much is clear.

One just wonders who sets them these days.

But still, I marvel at the country's education system. Though I do think it's too intensive, it's impressive that generally, a pupil's main objective is not to cause havoc.

I've told friends and family back in the UK about Singapore's education standards, and how fast-food restaurants have to keep kids out, not because they are trouble-makers, but because they take up space studying.

Their jaws generally drop.

Which brings me back to my point about how this is still a foreign country, despite my many years here, and yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.


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