Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Sad, Sad Situation

Link: "Wanton Disrespect from Another School"

I refer you to the above forums for more information about this post.

Firstly, you can see that Singaporean Internet commenters are no different from American Internet commenters (seriously NSFW). Nice to see civility taking a backseat when hiding behind the anonymity of teh interwebz.

I think most of the people condemning the act are too quick to judge. They are quick to blame the teachers, the school, the education system, before getting the full story on the situation. I think the intent of the initial forum poster, to rile up emotions on this event because of the apparent shocking nature of the pictures, was achieved quite well. People tend to react more violently or strongly to images or events which throw a wrench in their system, which might affect their rational judgment about the situation.

From what I can gather about the nature of the project the students were supposed to undertake, I think that it is brilliant. This is the kind of education method I prefer: something which exercises creativity and exploration, not just extraction from a textbook. I think it is effective because you can see how the students really got into the role-playing and the systematic process of taking over the rival school. On the basis of understanding the mindsets of colonists and putting the student in their shoes, which was allegedly the aim of the exercise, this was a fantastic idea. However, what was not mentioned was the aftermath: learning from your mistakes. After all the laughter and humour was over, did the teacher explain the detrimental possibilities of their plans? Did he or she take them back out of context and ask them to look at what they had thought up? Did the students recognise the potential of the atrocities they might commit if they had the opportunity to put their plans into action? That should be an important lesson here as well, not just the understanding of colonists.

That aside, we return to the "public's" reaction to this so-called "despicable slandering". First comes the Victims, who are offended by the "stereotypes" portrayed and demands that teachers be sacked, schools admitting apologies, ministries coming in to investigate, and all that jazz. These are the same type of people who hate Islamists just because of a few fundamentalists. I will never understand the human tendency of association, especially the Singaporean idea of "each student represents the entire school". In any organization (especially those in which membership is not voluntary), there will be rebels, or at least deviants who do not totally believe in whatever mission or ideal that the organization represents. But thanks to the media, these anomalies are hyped up to such an extent that the layman thinks they represent the entire organization.

I've been studying statistics for the past few months, and one of the basic principles of sampling is that a sample is never an exact representation of the population. It gives indicators, sure, but is not a photocopy. Once that is understood, then the second concept to understand is that correlation does not imply causation. So, a few students with the propensity to think up such ideas and with the intelligence to post them on a public domain does not immediately mean that the entire school is like them. As if schools could control the every action and thoughts of every single student that passes through their halls. The same argument applies for all the people who believe that the whole ACS fraternity is highly offended. Some commented that they found it highly amusing and mostly harmless; for who can blame them? They must have done it in their own time as well.

Then there are also the slights on racism, discrimination and stereotypes. Those happy people who believe in the racial integrity of our stable country insist that these type of stereotypes and generalization, if applied to the more emotionally-manipulating subject of racism, will bring instability to our great nation. To these happy people, I invite you to watch a liberal musical called Avenue Q, in particular a song called Everybody's a Little Bit Racist. If you understand what it is trying to say, you will see that everybody makes little judgments, not just based on race, but on whatever organization or stereotype you belong to. And the whole idea is not to escalate it to such violent, rioting levels, but to accept it as part of human nature.

So there is my take on this whole shebang. Now to get back to stats.
The Edna Man

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scallywags and Scoundrels

Ahoy me hearties! Terday be anoth'r Talk Like a Pirate Day, and woe betide it falls on a Saturday, with naught a social gatherin' all day. Talk Like a Pirate Day ain't much fun, if yer don't have nobody ter talk ter.

I allow'd meself ter write me cap'n's log terday, being one o' them special days and all, and since I miss'd September 1st 9th and 11th, I made sure ter commemorate tha special occasion.

It ain't much fun, like I said, but me be studyin' me organic alchemy to tha excitin' instrumentals o' tha Pirates o' tha Caribbean soundtrack. S' better than naught.

Ye bilge rats and landlubbers should be more appreciative o' tha special days o' tha year, as they be making tha borin' and mundane inter somethin' diffrent and un-monotonous. But well, one mate's treasure chest is another mate's booty, if ye know what I mean.

Avast, and belay that bilgewater.
Cap'n Edna Mann

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bike Trip!

So we went biking on Friday and I'm only writing about it today. Partly because of distractions and partly because damn Blogger is screwing up its XML or something. It really puts me off writing when the formatting of the submit form is all over the place.

Anyways, bike riding was awesome. As expected, not many people came, but a couple new faces this time. We took a different route from before, but ended up at a place with cheaper rentals than before, in a way. And what an epic bike journey it was. We cycled all the way down to Changi Airport, which was a first for me (I can do turns now!) and EPIC when we tried racing the planes taking off. Unfortunately, the bikes from this rental place were so overused that my gear-change system didn't work and I was stuck on high for most of the ride, meaning that I couldn't coast, limited to short bursts of speed. Still, not as bad as Guangda, whose rear tyre somehow acquired a dent which interfered with his braking system, causing him to pedal with all his might just to keep moving.

Arun and Charmaine joined us for dinner, at Carl's Junior (best place after a three-hour bike ride) over a fascinating discussion about superstitions and the supernatural. It was really interesting, coming from the skeptic point of view, and it's good because you keep your mind open to all the various possibilities and explanations. Huh.

Anyway, on the MRT ride back, there was another interesting conversation about NS with the China scholars. After I changed to the red line, I let an old man take my seat on the train. One of the few times I actually had a seat on the train to give up. Anyway, he didn't sound as grateful as some of the other elderly I've helped; not that I'm expecting, I just noticed he was different. But good karma goes around, I guess, because the bus driver waited for me while I hobbled to the bus stop with my injured leg.

That's about it I suppose. Mugging is back with Prelims, and there's no break to the IBs, so.

Need to fly away in a costume of colours,
The Edna Man

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Holding out for a Teacher

Holding Out for a Teacher - Parody of Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler

Where have all the tutors gone?
And where are my textbooks?
Where's the stupid search engine
Telling me to look?
All these facts and figures are running through my brain
I need help to sort through my head before I go insane!

I need a teacher!
I'm holding out for a teacher till the end of the term;
He's gotta be smart
And she's gotta have heart
And he's gotta be friendly but firm
I need a teacher!
I'm holding out for a teacher so that I can learn
She's gotta be sure
As an entrepreneur
Or the finals and exams will burn
Exams will burn

Though this class ain't perfect
And it just gets on your nerve;
Idiots and geniuses,
Taken from both ends of the curve.
But ask yourself one question; ask your own true heart:
Would your life be better if we spent our year apart?

I need a teacher!
I'm holding out for a teacher 'till she marks my essay
Don't come into my dorm;
Sign my CAS form;
Don't tell me it's another survey?!
I need a teacher!
I'm holding out for a teacher until Teachers' Day!
Jarrel Seah can't explain,
His words are too arcane
And it leaves me in more disarray
More disarray

"Madam could you please write my testimonial?
I need to apply for Uni."
"No please don't confiscate my

Through the toilet breaks and long timetables
Fire drills without smoke
We will all study hard
So we can get your jokes

I need a teacher!
I'm holding out for a teacher who is also a friend,
Don't need no professor;
Or Internal Assessor;
Or someone who just condesceneds;
I need a teacher!
I'm holding out for a teacher who really comprehends
We gotta remember
'Cos the end of November
Doesn't mean that these friendships must end
Friendships must end

My tribute to all my teachers, past and present. Happy Teachers' Day, y'all!

In other news, today's T-Day performance was one of the best EVER. I mean, I don't know how the older teachers are going to appreciate the hip-hop and stuff, but having the Senior Admin in feather boas and a sparkly top hat must surely make any performance an instant sellout.

Somebody give me a grade!
The Edna Man