Friday, September 02, 2005

Finally we get to the end of the term and a much needed break. Today I had fun discussing facets of Singapore life with small groups of kids from within my tutorials. I assigned different small groups to look into parts of the NDay Rally '05 speech and we had a good discussion (i.e., not me talking all the time, but hearing what the kids had to say about things) on issues such as our ageing population, the need for I&E, remaking ourselves, service culture and whatever else he said.

As we discussed, it was interesting to see how you tried to put forward politically-correct viewpoints, then getting yourselves stuck because you didn't really believe what you were saying. "We should take care of the elderly because, ya know, they brought us up and all." "I&E is good for our economy because it can increase our productivity and our country will prosper." Ad nauseum. Platitudes and catchphrases; buzzwords but nothing within the realm of genuine experience for you.

But because of the small group (3 pax max), as you talked you began to see the implications of what was happening around you because it does directly involve you when you become young working adults:

JC no longer has the 'elite' status it once had. It's now a level playing field and your competition isn't from the "top 5" any longer. You're competing against all your peers including those from the Polys and the Technical Institutes as well! So...

If you want to eat, you've got to stop priding yourselves on your ability to copy and replicate things (old-school mass-production mentality) and start generating your own ideas, dreaming dreams, and making things happen for yourselves (KBE) and learn to serve others with pride instead (service culture) -- abilities that your competitors quickly develop in a more hands-on environment than yours.

And you can't think of feeding just yourselves alone any more. As we old fogies continue to grey our population, our age is eventually going to put us out of work and we're going to count on you, youngsters, to foot our bills. And pay for our ever increasing healthcare costs as well. Suddenly your position has become a lot more precarious than you thought, eh?

What was most fun was putting you a little on edge, making you think about things that directly affect you in a real way, and watching worry creep across your brows in a way I've never seen before. How will you adapt to these new realities? What will it take for you to survive and even enjoy the upcoming few years? Guess that's going to be your holiday assignment from me. We'll talk more next term, ok?

3 straight hours of this sort of discussion can be terribly draining, though. By the time the 4th tutorial hour came around, I was drained and grew increasingly incoherent. Those of you I advised in my late afternoon slot I have no recollection of what I said to you, so better not take me too seriously.

1 weekend out from BKK. I'm in vacation mood!

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