Recess week is almost over. It’s been months since school started. And I’m still feeling in limbo, like I’m suspended in time. Omo, this does not bode well. That aside, a sequence of events have brought the issue of education into closer focus: A Be the Change dinner forum in PA headquarters on Wednesday night, then meeting my assigned mentor the next, and finally following-up with Mr. Hsieh over coffee on Friday.
If anything, the various comments directed towards education only confirmed what’s been simmering in my mind for sometime, that most young people in Singapore and Korea alike feels constrained, disillusioned by a system that makes it a duty of commoditizing our human capital. Then again, Mr. Hsieh was right to point out that every generation has its “unique” version of existential angst and state of bewilderment. Still, I have my personal reservations about an education system that has career readiness as its overarching, if not only goal. The imparting of marketable skills and knowledge is of course important, but call me idealistic – The true purpose of education itself should not be subservient to economic interests alone; we’re humans, and there’s a lot more to learn in life than how to be another unthinking cog in the wheel of capitalism.
For a generation that grew up in such material comfort, where basic survival is a non-issue, what we need most of all is a meaning to our mortal existence. I don’t think this is a question that anyone can evade – It’ll probably catch up somehow or manifest itself in one problem after another in one’s life. My opinion a while back, as it is now, is that creativity is more important than ever before on two levels – micro and macro.
The desire to create and express our individualities is innate, but for far too long we’ve been told to run along, run along, and be like everyone else. But conformity cannot be a sustainable competitive advantage anymore. We suffer the excesses of capitalism, teens gone wild and marriages went awry under the weight of ancient institutions that are rapidly outliving themselves; religion no longer has a stranglehold on meaning and morality, new age mambo jambo is an industry in itself, how then ought we to live out our lives, authentically? Which city? The point of it all is not to go running into the world, hoping/ wishing/ praying you’ll find something that sustains you. The point of it all is to first search within, find yourself, then lose your self.
In this regard I am very pleased about my 2 lost years, bumming around after A levels. It could have just been 1, but errr, there was an additional year due to personal stupidity. Of which the consequences are nothing I can’t live without. 😛 To be entirely honest, I have no quantitative records to show for how I used my time wisely. But it was a good break, if somewhat drastic from a “destiny” that would have awaited me with ordinary linearity. It was formative in the sense that I went in search of my own company, values and knowledge rather than have them passed onto me and I particularly relish that very personal happiness, of doing your own thanggg, even if the system frowns upon it. I love the diversity of people and ideas and realising that there are so many ways to live a life, all you have to do is optimise. Average people satisfice.
I’ll perhaps talk about the importance of creativity on a macro level another time.
So I walked away from meeting Mr. Tan and Mr. Hsieh with “homework” to do. I would like Mr. Tan a lot just for his eyes, which bears a striking resemblance to my dad’s, which is very good-looking and I have high standards, seriously. So I’m still feeling like there’s this emptied out part of my genetic heritage, but I feel strong and fortunate to be my dad’s daughter. I’m not too sure what would be the appropriate response to “you think a lot for your age” – I mean, I’ve been thinking a lot since I was a kid and I like it that way so I don’t even see it as a badge of honour? What I admire most about people, is when they possess grit and a good sense of humour about the shit that life throws at you. People who experiment, who are not afraid to fail, etc.
It was really awesome to finally catch up with Mr. Hsieh too. To be able to talk in Singlish and have a conversation with words such as “mambo”, “Shakira” and etc. in their mix is just sheer fun and would have been a pleasure in itself… The fact that he did effectively prodded me to start taking action is much, much appreciated. Cause I think I have almost made up my mind about what to obsess myself with next now. I will continue with tennis, start taking photography seriously (while still having loads of fun with it) and save up for my next travel (SAN FRANCISCO!?!?!?).
So here I am sipping on coffee. And I’m happy with all the pleasant surprises that life offers an unlimited supply of, so long as you keep your head up and swagger around.