Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A little bit of Australia

I was at the Australian International School this afternoon to judge a debate. Two things struck me.

- The Gurkha guards standing outside the school with the MP5s strapped round their fronts and a kukri (?) where a night stick would be for a regular police officer.

That was when it struck me that I was in no normal school and this was no normal time we live in. I've been talking about it quite a bit with my classes. The climate of fear that pervades our society. How much of it is real and how much of it is carefully constructed for political gain? And at that, whose political gain? Ours? The US'? Most of them aren't ready to handle these sorts of ideas yet, it's alot of leading them to the answers or the questions rather and sometimes, they still don't get it. For the rare ones that do, that look of revelation on their face when they realise that the lead story isn't the most important thing that's happened today, but that it is the one that is chosen to be most significant- it's priceless. They should do a teacher version of that mastercard ad.

The makeup used to hide the fatigue before going into class- $50
The soap to wash off the ink on your hands- $ 5
The marker pens you use to fling at errant students- $3
The look on their faces when they realise their world is much larger than they originally thought- Priceless.
For everything else, there's Mastercard. :)

So anyway, the Gurkha guards... way cool. I used to go to school with their kids, since my school was near their camp and boy, were these kids strong. I still remember being held up by the collar by one of the Gurkha girls, just for the fun of it. And the boys, who could run miles without batting an eyelid. They were awesome. I still remember their names even, Raj and Kishore, the guys, and Denysa the girl. I wonder what's happened to them now. Word is the boys cannot join the Gurhka contingent since they were brought up in Singapore and Denysa, last I heard, she had to leave school to go back and get married. An alien concept to a 15 year old.

So that's the first thing that struck me today.

The second thing..

- The Australian Internationl School is HUGE. It's even laid out differently from our regular schools. You walk in and there's a receptionist and if you followed the signs, the principal's room is the furthest down the corridor. It seems to be run more like an office than an educational institution and I don't mean this in a bad way. The schools try to have organisation, but when you look at something like that, you cannot help but feel that the school's effort at trying to professionalise its image is slightly amatuerish.

The homerooms were wonderfully decorated. The one we were in was a history one and it had all the "Enlist! Uncle Sam Needs You" messages put up on the wall and most importantly, they were cool as in airconditioning cool. Heh, in that way, I'm much like my students who when asked to state their ideal classroom experience talked about airconditioning. It is true that Singapore really needs to be ten degrees cooler and I think people will be more amiable if that were the case.

The heat these days is just unbearable. It's hot at six in the morning and it just gets warmer through the day and it's muggy. How did people live without airconditioning? It's unfathomable.

It would be nice to be able to send my kids to a school like that, clean, small class room numbers, a cool uniform with a hat (- They'll hate me for it!) and Gurkha guards at the door. But seeing that the fees are as high as local univesity fees, I don't think so.

As it is, I'm happy that I got my reimbursement from Stuttgart is in. That's how dire money is.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:29

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