The Public Service Paperweight Award

Some time in the early 90’s my father was given a public service award for his contributions to education. It came as a surprise to all of us, since he never mentioned anything about it, and the only times we saw him getting close to education was when he signed our school report cards.

He explained that over the years, he had been donating money to a Chinese school affiliated with one of the Hainanese clans in Singapore. He also said it wasn’t a big deal, but I’m sure it was – because no ordinary donor would have been shortlisted for a public service award.

When he received the invitation to the ceremony, he showed it to me and asked me if he should attend. I said, “Why not? You deserve it”.

He went, came home, and I asked him how it was. He said, “Nothing lah. So long the whole thing”.

I asked him to show me the award or certificate he must have received, and he said, “Don’t have lah. They only give me this block of wood”.

He showed me the “block of wood”, and said, “Useless. Can put on your desk”, probably thinking it was a paperweight.

I took the block of wood, removed the ribbon around it, and opened it to show him a medal. We spent the next hour laughing at his silliness.

Why we only have rude kids who know how to pass exams

The Kindegarten

The things I remember from kindergarten (oh yes I do) are nap time and snack time, and the number of other kids’ birthdays we used to celebrate with songs and games and cake. There was very little math, spelling or reading, though there was also storytime.

But apparently, in the decades since, things have been quite different and it’s only now that kindy kids are getting to play in our pre-schools. Poor things:

(From CNA)

SINGAPORE: Education is also about playing – and this is what educators are getting pre-schoolers to do.

Some 1,000 teachers and principals were at the inaugural International Conference on Early Childhood Education on Friday to exchange ideas on how to engage and inspire pre-schoolers.

The conference was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

In the past, pre-school teachers emphasised spelling and writing. But educators now say this teaching approach has changed.

Josephine Teo, chairman, Steering Committee, International Conference on Early Childhood Education 2010 said: “There is greater recognition that even in the early childhood years, play is an important component, and play in fact does lead to a great deal of learning.”

Sheila Ho, principal, PCF-Sparkletots Child Care Centre, Queenstown & Alexandra Branches said: “They will have the chance to learn their spelling in their primary schools.

“Give these pre-school children their childhood life – like playing with blocks, all these. It is not only from books. They can memorise, they can learn better through hands-on.”

Maybe we should have done what Japanese pre-schools have been doing (via @jseng).

Well, at least they’re not doing drugs

“Son, your mother and I worked very hard to make sure we have enough money put aside for your education. It has been worth it, knowing that this money will make you learn and practice things at Republic Polytechnic that will help make the world a better place – maybe do something about climate change, be the first scientist to discover how to reverse that.

Or maybe even synthesize a new energy source that will rid us of our dependence on non sustainable fuel.

It has been hard, with the economy dipping again while prices keep going up. We struggle to protect our rice bowl, but now, we might even find it hard to fill that rice bowl with rice.

What keeps us going is the thought that one day, you will do us proud, and save us all from life’s difficulties.


What the fuck, son?