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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where are all the world class writers?

This post is an addendum to the one before. It asks a simple question: if, as has been claimed by MM Lee Kuan Yew, Singaporeans have been educated in English to the highest of world class standards, where are all the great Singaporean writers? With a command of English, at the highest level, often comes a propensity, need and ability to write. This frequently manifests in novels, plays, poems, or other creative forms. The question is: given the highest world class education in English, where are all the Singaporean writers of global standing?

The fact is, there are no Singaporean writers of global reputation: not even one. Catherine Lim is the writer who comes closest to having an international reputation - but even she really just has a local reputation with a smidgeon of regional awareness thrown in. She is not truly international.

If Singaporeans really were being equipped with the highest level of English, Singapore would have many famed writers. It doesn't. The only conclusion is that these "highest world class English speakers" don't really exist.

Often it is said to excuse this situation that Singapore is "too small" to have any such writers. Well, let us look at the issue of size. Singapore has a population of around 4.6 to 4.7 million people according to recent newspaper articles. Ireland has a population of 4.1 million - so it is a comparable but smaller country, in terms of population. Does Ireland suffer from the same problem of not producing any writers of international standing?

No. In fact, Ireland has the opposite problem. It produces so many writers of international standing that you would be hard-pressed to read their output in a lifetime. Let us list a few of them to give you an idea: Samuel Beckett (Nobel Prize Winner and Dramatist); Brendan Behan (playwright and novelist); Eoin Colfer (writer of a popular children's book series); Roddy Doyle (novelist); Brian Friel (playwright); F. Scott Fitzgerald (Irish American and writer of the Great Gatsby); Oliver Goldsmith (novelist and playwright); Lady Augusta Gregory (playwright and founder of the Abbey Theatre), Seamus Heaney (Nobel Prize Winner); Neil Jordan (author, film director); James Joyce (novelist); Frank McCourt (writer and teacher); Edna O'Brien (novelist); George Bernard Shaw (playwright and novelist); Richard Brinsley Sheridan (playwright); Laurence Sterne (novelist, author of Tristram Shandy); Bram Stoker (author of Dracula); John Millington Synge (dramatist); Dylan Thomas (poet); William Trevor (novelist); Oscar Wilde (novelist, poet, satirist); William Butler Yeats (poet and Nobel Prize Winner).

Now that list is not exhaustive: it is barely a beginning of the great writers that have come out of little Ireland. Note that there are three Nobel Prize Winners amongst these ones, alone. Singapore has never had a Nobel Prize Winner in any category. Thus, it is clear that whatever class of English is truly being taught in Singapore, it is not world class - for, if it was, one would expect a similar number of authors of renown from Singapore, as Ireland (a SMALLER country in terms of population) actually produces. Yet, Singapore doesn't have even one of similar standing.

Singapore has the people. It has the financial resources. It lacks however the self-knowledge to see that certain areas need improving. Should it begin to see itself as it actually is - and not as it pretends to itself to actually be - then steps could be taken to nurture any glimmers of creative ability in the population, in the hope of seeding writers of the future.

The same argument as above could be applied to any area of creative endeavour: Singapore is not really pulling its weight when compared to other developed countries of a similar population size. Where are the musicians? Where are the artists? Where are the research scientists (creative ones)? All are lacking. All could be there, if the right steps to nurture them were taken.

Singapore has done many things well in the past few decades - but it has done other things very poorly: nurturing creative people is one of those things that have been done poorly (and continue to be so).

Singapore will have truly come into to its own as a fully-fledged creative nation when it too can produce a long list of creative people of renown, in any field.

I look forward to it - but it won't happen without change of the education system, here.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:50 PM 

34 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Math textbooks from Singapore are quite popular with homeschoolers in the United States. "Singapore Math" is considered to be quite rigorous, fostering flexible problem solving skills that go far beyond what is required by most math textbooks/programs in the US.

I am interested in knowing what your opinion is of mathematics education in Singapore.

2:09 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Many parents see higher education from an investment perspective. Indian and Bangladeshi students, for example, have two choices upon attending university: medicine or engineering. From a monetary perspective it makes sense to encourage students into technical fields. No one wants to see a child financially struggle or starve (something likely to happen to an artist in Bangladesh.) If creative writing ever becomes a profitable endeavor, Southeastern Asia will claim a larger presence in classical and contemporary literature.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Shannon,

It is true that Asians seek security and money first. That leads them to be risk averse. Few have the courage even to start a company - they would rather work for a big, "secure" MNC. The result is that few make interesting choices in life. It is very dull in some ways.

However, I can see their outlook: they see life as too risky and want to minimize the risks. Sadly, this means that many interesting things remain undone.

Best wishes

11:51 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Singapore does have a reputation for developing good maths skills. I will try to write a post on their maths work, some time. Which level are you thinking of? Primary or Secondary/High School? I think their primary stuff goes too slowly for some pupils and is unnecessarily ungainly - but that is from my own point of view. I will discuss it more fully in future.

Thanks.

11:53 AM  
Blogger K2 said...

It would be rather unfair to pit Singapore's writers against Ireland's, as Ireland has had such a long history. I also believe that the change of seasons, physical environment, the wars etc tend to have profound impact on a writer's ability to create a wide range of good literary works. So there, perhaps LKY was just talking about the use of English as our official working language. I wouldn't say much of the standard of English among school-going children, but at the workplace where we're required to communicate with people worldwide, our standard of English definitely makes us easily understood.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear K2,

The length of Ireland's history has nothing to do with it. Ireland has always had a high number of internationally respected writers at all periods of its history. As I write there are hundreds of Irish writers making a mark in the world. My list was a very short one comprising a few notable cases. I could have written pages of names, if I had wanted to write an intolerably long post consisting of little but names.

You are right, it is not a completely fair comparison between Singapore and Ireland - it is, in fact, UNFAIR ON IRELAND, because Singapore is a bigger country in terms of population - and has long been so. (Ireland was a much smaller country, population-wise, until the recent boom sparked high immigration...of NON-Irish people).

Singapore doesn't nurture creativity in its people - the evidence for this is very strong since Singapore is weak in ALL creative areas, not just writing. It should not be so, but it is.

I note from your blogger profile that you work in communications - therefore your English skills can be expected to be higher than normal. So, too, would your colleagues' be, presumably. You are not a foreigner, you are a Singaporean, so you are not actually in a position to decide how foreigners (Brits, Irish, Americans, etc.) view the English of Singaporeans. I am in that position - and I can tell you now that I often find it very difficult to understand Singlish - even though I have been here since 1999...sometimes it is just incomprehensible. Many of my expat friends from countries all over the world, say the same thing. Singaporean English is not good enough, by international standards - saying it is fine doesn't make it so, it only ensures that it will not improve.

Sure, there will be some Singaporeans whose English is OK...but most Singaporeans do not speak standard English - and are unable to make themselves readily understood to those that do.

That is the unfortunate truth.

It is, however, a correctable situation over the span of a generation, if the right efforts are made.

Best wishes

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure you are in the education system?

Singaporeans like to believe that we have the best education system in the world. It is cruel to dispel that illusion.

1) Your Angus Ross (lierature) prize is often won by Singaporeans. Thus showing the superiority of the Singaporean system. at A levels anyway.

2) Yet, few schools in Singapore encourage their student to take Literature as "it is difficult to score As".

3) Top students (also known as scholars) usually go on to more profitable professionals. Eg become administrators/bankers/etc.

4) There was a somewhat talented aspiring Malay poet (Alfian Sa'at) but ... u can check out his history
with our beloved Men-In-White.

The ans is (3) btw.

PS:
And "Singapore Math" ... will ensure another generation of Singaporeans are competent in maths but have little love for the subject.

NoName

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont quite agree with this write up. First of all I will argue if govt [and any govt, I might add] had a hand in nurturing writers then we will all probably just end up reading propaganda. Or stuff that no one is willing to vote with their wallet.

If one looks at the history of the Irish writing explosion, it occured during the late 18th century to even present day.

This also the period when the English really suppressed the Irish identity. Catholics were systematically disinfranchised, they were even forbidden to vote and they could not own common title to land. No Catholic was even permitted to live in the cities of Limerick or Galway. They were not only marginalized in terms of employment, but also education. That's why eventually so many migrated to the US.

That sort of institutionalized discrimination only breed a hardy class of intellectuals who were not only highly suspicious of govt and everything to do with the whole idea of power, politics and culture.

If one reads lets say many of the Irish works. They are not only subversive, but many of them challenged the idea of English hegemony. So I believe literature became a social way of digging into the ribs of the English. It was in literature and the arts that the Irish found they could stand not only as equals but high above their English masters apparent.

If you care to look around for example even in our blogosphere. You will notice the really creative and insightful writers are also the ones who are usually marginalized by the established aggregators like Ping.sg, SingaporeSurf and The Online Citizen. They get even less from the MSM and absolutely no encouragement from the govt.


Far from keeling over if you care to notice. Not only do they con't to write and write very creatively as well they do. But these are also the same places that cont to throw out very interesting questions. I am always surprised how their readers manage to track them down despite having very little clues as to where they will next publish their work.

Perhaps there are similarities here. You need to draw it out otherwise this will be too wordy. The lesson appears to be. If you want a creative writing culture, then the best way to create it. Is to try to kill them off, cut their voice, close the aperture for them to reach out. That is one sure fire way that guarantees the smartest will always rise up and join their ranks. As nowhere else will be ever be able to say, I will not die, I will show you all. That I believe was why the Irish were such prolific writers, everyone wanted them to die except their readers.

Debbie

2:36 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi No Name,

Winning the Angus Ross prize for literature proves only one thing, actually: that Singaporeans take the Cambridge board of A levels. You see the Angus Ross prize is for NON-UK entrants to the Cambridge A level. Now, who actually takes Cambridge A levels, other than the UK? Well, Singapore has made Cambridge their examining board. Which other countries have done that? I don't know of any other country to have done that.

Native speakers of English such as Americans, Canadians, Australians etc do NOT take A levels - and so winners of the Angus Ross prize have not actually competed against native writers at all. They have competed against a few students, all over the world, in non-English speaking countries, mainly, who have decided to take A level.

When this is understood, it can be seen that the Angus Ross prize doesn't mean as much as you think it does - sadly, for Singapore. It means primarily that Singapore have made Cambridge their exam - and so most of the students who are being judged by the Angus Ross committee will come from Singapore. It is a question of numbers: since it is more than likely that the majority of entrants are Singaporean, then, all things being average (not exceptional) a Singaporean is likely to win.

A different competition, leading to direct competition with native English writers would lead to a very different result: Singaporeans would never win such a competition (based on what I have seen in schools).

Thank you for your view of Singapore Maths. I am not surprised at the lack of enthusiasm it inspires.

Yes, Alfian was treated harshly by the system here. I wouldn't call what happened to him encouraging his talents.

I am in the education system - and I have mainly taught English. I have never seen a really good local writer in the student body since 1999: not one (by applying my standard of what I am looking for in a good writer).

Best wishes

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 2:09AM who said that math textbooks from Singapore are "quite popular" in the US, I disagree. This myth has attained urban legend status in Singapore. A math textbook from Singapore was added to the list of books approved for use in California schools. That's all. To my knowledge, not a single school actually adopted the supposedly famous Singapore Math book. That's why only home schoolers have the OPTION of using it, in California. I challenge anyone to produce evidence that even a single American child is taught using a Singaporean math book. I suspect there might be at least one, but this myth has to be smashed. It's another case of Singapore pretending to be more renown than it actually is.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi No Name,

Winning the Angus Ross prize for literature proves only one thing, actually: that Singaporeans take the Cambridge board of A levels. You see the Angus Ross prize is for NON-UK entrants to the Cambridge A level. Now, who actually takes Cambridge A levels, other than the UK? Well, Singapore has made Cambridge their examining board. Which other countries have done that? I don't know of any other country to have done that.

Native speakers of English such as Americans, Canadians, Australians etc do NOT take A levels - and so winners of the Angus Ross prize have not actually competed against native writers at all. They have competed against a few students, all over the world, in non-English speaking countries, mainly, who have decided to take A level.

When this is understood, it can be seen that the Angus Ross prize doesn't mean as much as you think it does - sadly, for Singapore. It means primarily that Singapore have made Cambridge their exam - and so most of the students who are being judged by the Angus Ross committee will come from Singapore. It is a question of numbers: since it is more than likely that the majority of entrants are Singaporean, then, all things being average (not exceptional) a Singaporean is likely to win.

A different competition, leading to direct competition with native English writers would lead to a very different result: Singaporeans would never win such a competition (based on what I have seen in schools).

Thank you for your view of Singapore Maths. I am not surprised at the lack of enthusiasm it inspires.

Yes, Alfian was treated harshly by the system here. I wouldn't call what happened to him encouraging his talents.

I am in the education system - and I have mainly taught English. I have never seen a really good local writer in the student body since 1999: not one (by applying my standard of what I am looking for in a good writer).

Best wishes

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Marc said...

Let's be honest, the singaporean education system has only one goal in mind- that is to produce legions of obedient and hardworking worker drones.

Let's not pretend it is out to educate or to produce great movers and shakers. The last thing the government wants is a creative, independent thinking and highly critical populace. Throughout history, the philosophers,writers, musicians and artists has always been the ones to agitate and stand at the forefront of great social movements. You think the PAP would want something like that?

5:48 PM  
Blogger Jelliah said...

Mr. Cawley,

I am a tertiary student who loves writing. Somehow, your post energized me rather than making me feel put down. Maybe I should feel a little depressed about the local writing scene as described in your post... but I felt excited after reading your post instead.

I would love to get published someday. However, I think two things should change about the writing scene:

1. Censorship
2. More information on publishing houses, how to get published etc

Do you have any advice for me?

P.S. Neil Jordan! Yay!

5:53 PM  
Blogger K2 said...

According to government statistics, the population of Singapore as of 2007 was 4.59 million, of whom 3.58 million were Singaporean citizens and permanent residents (termed 'Singapore Residents').

The population of Ireland is slightly over 6 million (2007). This is a significant increase from a modern historical low in the 1960s, but still much lower than the peak population of over 8 million in the early 19th century, prior to the Great Hunger (1840s famine) -- statistics taken fr Wikipedia.

With 8 million native speakers in Ireland in early 19thC, I don't think you're really comparing apples with apples, since Singapore really flourished only after the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. Native Singaporeans probably had their first exposure to the English language only then. I think the length of history has everything to do with one's culture, lingua franca etc which are key elements to producing world class writers. But that's just my opinion.

With regard to the point on Singaporeans not being easily understood by foreigners... perhaps you are right. But during my brief stint at Microsoft Singapore, I've never seen any expatriate or co-worker from HQ struggle to comprehend a local. And perhaps because the expats I've met have become so used to Singlish, they've actually taken on the Singlish accent, not to mention being totally at ease with the use of it. I'm not saying Singlish is good, but that's another story altogether.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

K2, according to the CIA of America, July 2008, the population of Ireland is 4.1 million. Please follow the link:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/ei.html

Your facts are in error.

By the way, the CIA say (July 2008) that Singapore's population is 4.608 million.

When I was growing up, Ireland had a population of around 3 million. That is all.

Most of the increase in population of Ireland since that time is foreigners - from Poland etc. There has been huge immigration. Thus the core of Irish will still be 3 million or so.

Ireland has hundreds of living writers of some degree of reputation and noted talent. Singapore doesn't appear to have any similar people (apart from Catherine Lim, who is not internationally feted).

It takes about 20 years to make a writer. First you conceive one. Then you educate them. When they become adult, they start to write. Singapore is old enough to have produced writers, from birth, in its 40 odd year history. It has produced none. Furthermore, two centuries have passed since Stamford Raffles had his great idea - but there has been no history of writers, since then.

The problem, for Singapore today, lies with an education system which actively discourages creativity and which does not encourage good use of English. Put the two together and you get an absence of writers.

It surprises me that a native speaker should start to speak in a Singlish way: are you sure they are true natives? I have never met a native who would give up correct speech and English usage for Singlish. Singlish is known only in a very small island. It is not an international version of any language. Therefore, it is of limited utility. A native speaker of English is unlikely to give up their own usage for Singlish - unless they are doing so to "blend in" with the locals. That is possible.

There is a range of Singlish. Some of it would be incomprehensible to almost anyone. Some of it becomes comprehensible with familiarity with this particular English usage. Some of it is immediately comprehensible - but just not very well put together.

I am not comparing Singapore to early 19th century Ireland. It would be a strange comparison to make, since the Irish, then, were a very downtrodden bunch, subjugated by the English in a seriously bad way. They didn't have much of an opportunity to do anything - not even eat, perhaps. Nevertheless, they had writers.

I am however comparing Ireland now to Singapore now. Both are developed countries. Ireland is the smaller of the two. Ireland has a vibrant creative culture in many media - including the written word: Singapore does not. Why is this so?

8:06 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi K2,

I checked what Wikipedia says about Ireland's historical population...and it doesn't actually say what you say it says.

If you go to this link on the historical demographics of Ireland:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Ireland

You will see that the population of Ireland was only 6.5 million or so in 1840...and that throughout the twentieth century from 1901 to 1971, the population of Ireland was just 3 million.

Singapore is a more populous country than Ireland...but it does not show the same degree of creativity in any of the arts. It doesn't even show 1% of that creativity. There must be a reason for this and, having worked in the education sector, I would be very surprised if the way education is imparted, here, didn't have a lot to do with that.

Kind regards

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy your writing very much.

I am not one of those world-class english speakers referred to by our MM.

I live in Australia now. I like to share my experience.

My son hated school and the English subject when he was in Singapore. He hated it when he was required to write compositions. He complained about not being able to write what he wanted.

Like for example, a day at the beach, well, must follow a certain format which was to be used by everyone in the class. Basically, he can't fantasize.

My son loved writing now. He writes short stories during his spare time. Just to amuse himself.

The Australian system must have gotten something right. Of course, our MM will defer as a country of 'white trash' can't be that inspiring ....

8:52 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your anonymous comment from Australia.

Firstly, I am happy to hear that your son now loves to write - freely and as he wishes. That is a major step forward for his personal growth and happiness.

It alarms me, however, to read of how he was taught in Singapore. Some of the educational practices here are most certainly destructive of the child. Yet, of course, they are regarded as the norm and not even noticed by most people. There is something very wrong at work here, in many ways.

Enjoy your life in Australia. I bet you enjoy the open space and the abundance of choices...

Best wishes.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

By the way, Anon from Australia,
thanks for your comment re. my writing. It is good to hear that you enjoy it: positive feedback always helps one continue forwards.

Kind regards

9:03 PM  
Anonymous la nausée said...

"Singapore will have truly come into to its own as a fully-fledged creative nation when it too can produce a long list of creative people of renown, in any field."

I'm leery of the idea that we (or any other country) can "produce" "creative people". It seems to me ironic that people who lament loudest about our lack of creativity and our fixation on hard statistics almost invariably invoke a country-by-country numerical comparison of Nobel prizewinners.

Second, another comment pointed out that creative writing is a function not just of learned technique, but also of the diversity of one's lived experiences. For the latter, there is only so much that an education system can do.

Also, I would suggest that the range of life experiences here are narrower than elsewhere. I would suggest further that this isn't a bad thing at all, not when a wider range of life experiences include civil wars, bloodshed, economic turmoil, and so forth. "Risk-averse" isn't always a dirty word. (Here, I suppose that one needs extraordinary life experiences in order to write creatively. This seems to me quite correct.)

Lastly, I think that it would be unimaginably dull if every society aspires towards producing creative geniuses. There are many paths to human flourishing. "Mad Ireland" can entrance the world with her poetry and song. Singapore? Perhaps we can content ourselves with devising the next cutting-edge gene-splicing method and supplying 3D computer-animation for another Hollywood flick.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous normal_guy said...

Hi,

I would not take MM's words too seriously, he is probably saying it generally, not knowing the true picture on the ground.

I am locally educated in the technical stream. See, my English is not enough.

I believe that there may some political agendas to ensure we do not have very good linguistic and learned people. David Marshall was good and look who he went against with.

By the way, thanks for a good read.

11:02 PM  
Blogger K2 said...

Pardon my lack of substantive information but this is where I got the data from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland (para 2). In any case, Wiki isn't known to have the most accurate information.

And my point is really just about social, economic and political influences (yes, including being subjugated by the English) being key to developing a society of creative people, including writers. I remember Seamus Heaney's poetry often had the 'bog' theme in them, due to environmental factors.

I also need to point out that up till Singapore's independence, schooling was not mandatory for little kids, only mission school students were educated in the English medium and English language wasn't the official working language. I would discount one and a half centuries since Sir Stamford Raffles' arrival. Cheers.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Jelliah,

It is good that you feel like taking up the challenge of becoming a Singaporean writer.

The issue of censorship is a delicate one: there are certain areas that are off-limits in Singapore and can only lead to trouble to venture into. That silences certain types of writers.

There is an association of publishers in Singapore - you might like to seek them out (I will try to get the information for you and will post it here, below, somewhere).

Normally, agents are employed by writers to secure a better deal. I don't know of any agents in Singapore. The publisher can give you a bad deal if you don't have an agent. So if you are without one, study what is normal on the internet, to compare your contract with what writers normally get. Be very careful with what you are signing (an agent is very useful here).

Good luck.

Valentine

P.S: You could always seek an agent in another country that has them, ie the UK.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Marc, in encouraging a silence from their people, those in power lose more than they gain. A nation without voice, is a nation without much of a presence in the world. Not having an artistic community known all over the world, reduces the importance and presence of Singapore in the world's minds.

Thanks for your comment.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Debbie, much of what the Irish have written is neither political nor subversive. Much of it is just about ordinary people living their lives in a pastoral community - or the ways of small town life. Almost none of the most recent writing - of which there is much - is political in the least.

The Irish write because they can, not because someone tells them not to.

You have some interesting ideas on the origin of a writing nation - but the same forces are, to some degree, at work in Singapore, as were in Ireland, long ago. Here, however, there is not a flourishing of writers, but a Great Big Silence (apart from a few bloggers). It is curious, indeed, that there should be this difference.

Thanks for your thoughts.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi K2,

Thanks for your expansion on where you were coming from.

Yes, I agree that there are many influences on a writer - however I don't think that a writer needs turmoil in which to become a writer. Some writers lead very sedate lives and had no turmoil to speak of - but still they wrote.

If Singapore was a place that nurtured writers, there would be many living and working now...and there would already have been many in its four decades...but there aren't. That is odd - and regrettable.

Thanks, as ever, for your comments.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Cawley

Thanks for answering twice :-)
The likes of Mr K2 will be most displeased with your answer(dispelling yet another urban myth).

Maybe Mr K2 can provide statistics of world class Chinese\Malay\Tamil(?) Singaporean writers?

Marc pretty much answered your question yes?
The current priorities are (1)control and (2)profit.
And they did a pretty good job with National Education.

Debbie's optimistic\romantic view is that there is a small creative underground that is producing quality works. I guess her generation is not into "War and Peace" :-)

NoName

2:18 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you normal_guy for your comment.

Indeed, it is possible that the present outcome is intended by those who intend.

Best wishes.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

La nausee,

On the contrary, it would be a "dull world indeed" if every country FAILED to produce creative geniuses. You see, by definition, creative geniuses create - and it is that creation that allows society and culture to change and progress and grow more complex, more complete and more diverse. Without genius you end up with very dull societies. It should be easy enough for you to imagine what a society without genius is like. Imagine if the whole world were like that? Yuk!

As for "Mad" Ireland...who on Earth thinks of creative people as mad? Only uncreative, narrow-minded, intolerant people could ever think so. To label a creative person as mad, is to label oneself as unimaginative.

Ireland is not mad. It is actually rather offensive to state that it is so...offensive to every Irish person.

You seem to be unaware of what is happening in the science labs of Singapore. Foreigners are working there. Most of the research is being done by foreigners, not by Singaporeans. I have met many research scientists here...all but one are foreign and the local one doesn't seem to do research as such. So, if a "new gene-splicing technique" does come out of a Singaporean lab, the scientist is probably from the Philippines, or Indonesia, or Thailand...or America, Australia, France etc. For strangely enough there are a lot of South East Asians working in labs here as well as Europeans/Caucasians. Universities here don't like to employ Singaporean PhDs...if you want to know why, you should ask them. It is an odd thing however...but they tend to turn away their own graduates in preference for imported talent.

I am unaware of what is happening in the 3 D animation field - but the only animator I have met in Singapore was an IRANIAN. So, it might be the same story there...

I would like to see a Singaporean renaissance - but things have to change in many areas to allow that to happen.

Best wishes.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, No Name, War and Peace is a very unlikely result of this invisible underground of creative spirits that Debbie proposes. We are not living in a time of major creativity in this part of the world.

I have no idea why it posted twice. Sorry...

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Valentine,

I agree with a lot of things that you have said:

"Singapore doesn't nurture creativity in its people - the evidence for this is very strong since Singapore is weak in ALL creative areas, not just writing. It should not be so, but it is."
Teachers usually ignore me when i say something out of the box but unappealing to them, especially during primary school.

"they see life as too risky and want to minimize the risks. Sadly, this means that many interesting things remain undone."
A general mentality of Sgporeans, especially entrenched in people who have not experienced life overseas.

"Sure, there will be some Singaporeans whose English is OK...but most Singaporeans do not speak standard English"
Singlish is just an impediment to my writing, given the fact that more than 50% of what you hear is incorrect stuff in the context of English.

"Thank you for your view of Singapore Maths. I am not surprised at the lack of enthusiasm it inspires."
I have scored As in Maths from primary school to A-lvls further maths. I am good in Maths but i don't like it after primary school.

"There is a range of Singlish. Some of it would be incomprehensible to almost anyone. Some of it becomes comprehensible with familiarity with this particular English usage. Some of it is immediately comprehensible - but just not very well put together."
Sometimes i don't even understand what my SGporean friends are talking about, let alone my friends from America or Europe.

"Some of the educational practices here are most certainly destructive of the child. "
Might be due to the heavy workload and meritocracy in SG.

"Great Big Silence (apart from a few bloggers)"
Not only silence, insentivity is an issue. Some people do not look at you when they are talking to you. Some do not give up seats after seeing an old lady in front of them. Some just don't know how/ don't want to react to situations like lending a hand to a person who slipped and fell.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like to add on:
"Top students (also known as scholars) usually go on to more profitable professionals. Eg become administrators/bankers/etc"
Pretty much. A lot of who i know go to engineering or business field.

"Most of the research is being done by foreigners, not by Singaporeans. I have met many research scientists here.."
Yup, at least in NUS. Research is boring to many.

3:34 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you anonymous who quoted me line by line, for doing so - and commented on them.

Your confirmation is appreciated.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous averral said...

They are hiding somewhere, there is a lack of freedom of expression. Many things are frowned upon, it is hard to be who they truly are.

There are no diplomas or degrees in regards to the art of fine writing.

Writing is subjective, and objects of subjective nature are teared apart so it does not interfere with the natural order of the way the society should be.

1:30 AM  

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