A few weeks ago, my son Ainan was clearly in
reverie. He looked up at me, then, a question in his eyes.
“Can doing nothing for a long period hurt
“ Then Singapore hurt my brain...for years
I would get up early, go to a building, do nothing all day and come home late
with no time to do anything else.”
I had to agree. Singapore had forced Ainan
to go to Primary school, even though he had mastered O level standard work,
already. It was a stupid act, of a stupid education system, guided by stupid
people. They just wouldn’t let us home school him, despite us asking
repeatedly. They seemed to feel a need to control his growing mind, to not let
it be free to grow as we would guide it. Finally, of course, we escaped
Singapore altogether. Our answer to their not giving us permission to home
school him, was to emigrate from the country altogether.
What Singapore has never learnt, and
probably never shall learn, is that you cannot constrict the people. You cannot
force them into boxes in which they don’t belong. Any attempt to do so, will
result in those people leaving the country. Singapore’s education system seems
to have a wish to limit its children in certain ways, and constrain them into
certain conventional, preordained categories of function. Anything which
exceeds those norms, is not handled well – despite the existence of the “Gifted
Branch”, of the Ministry of Education.
For several years, Singapore prevented
Ainan’s mental growth, by placing him in a situation in which there was nothing
to learn, quite literally nothing to learn. Primary school had nothing to offer
Ainan – for he had already mastered its content, before he had even joined it.
It was a complete waste of time. Ainan found it completely mind numbing. He was
beyond bored in his Primary school. The only respite was the chance to play
with his friends. Other than that, the school had nothing to offer him at all.
It was completely switching his mind off. Yet, the system would not let us free
him of it. They forced him to be there against his will and against his best
interests. They were interested, it seemed, primarily in two things: control
and observation. The Gifted Branch had a huge file on Ainan containing reports
which had come from everyone in the education system who had contact with him.
Thus, his school was not a school at all. It was an observation chamber, a
surveillance system – a means to monitor this unusual young child – for what
reasons, was never declared. They were not there however, and were never there,
to actually help him grow intellectually. They were there, it seemed at times,
to hamper him, in every way they could. They could not have behaved more obstructively
had they been specifically instructed to obstruct him – which perhaps they had,
given some of the things they did, which did not make any sense, unless their
purposes were obstructive.
Singapore is a place for the average
person. If a child is born, on that tiny island, who surpasses intellectual
norms, in any significant way, they are likely to find the system less than
completely understanding of the situation. Singapore did its best to frustrate
Ainan’s development, in any way it could. The only significant provisions we
secured for him, were arranged by ourselves and not by the “Gifted Branch”. Had
we done nothing and let the system take care of Ainan, they would have
completely destroyed his developing mind – for as Ainan suspected, doing
nothing harms the mind.
We saved Ainan from Singapore’s mandated
destruction, by resisting the system and making our own arrangements. Life has
turned out well for him, as a result. He is enjoying his courses at Taylor’s
University and is learning many different things. We managed to secure him what
he needed – but we did so only by escaping a system that was determined to do
as little as possible for him.
Singapore doesn’t make great people.
Singapore breaks great people. Great people threaten the essential mediocrity of
the “system”. So the system does it best to thwart them. That, at least, is the
impression of its purpose, operation and intent that we garnered, from our
exposure to the “Gifted Branch”.
As I once asked a Gifted Branch officer,
who was denying our requests for practical chemistry classes for Ainan. “What
is the Gifted Branch for?”
She had no answer, but just sat in silence.
I asked the question again: “What is the
Gifted Branch for?”
She didn’t answer me.
From our experience with them, I very much
doubt that the true intent of the Gifted Branch is to nurture its gifted
children to its best ability. However, the thick file they had on Ainan does
indicate that another purpose seems more likely. The Gifted Branch appears to
wish to monitor the gifted children, in Singapore...to keep tabs on them. So,
if you want your child monitored, on a daily basis, by every educator they
encounter, please contact the Gifted Branch, and become involved with them. If,
however, you want your child to grow up free of total surveillance...have
nothing to do with them, at all. You are not losing anything, because the
Gifted Branch interventions are worthless, in our experience. All they will do
is frustrate you in every way they can.
If you have a truly gifted child, Singapore
will not provide for them. You will have to go elsewhere. Like we did...so, do
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: collective stupidity, differential support for the gifted, experience of the gifted, frustrated lives, Gifted Branch, homeschooling, Singaporean Education