My ‘Arts Education’ is ruining me

“You can just tell when someone is from the Arts faculty,” a science student commented.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t know. errrrr. I guess you guys are just very opinionated and think very differently?”


Context

Contemporary Singapore society, albeit gradual shifts in perspective, still value a Science/Math education over the Arts– entrenched by State emphasis on the sciences early on its in education reform. This could perhaps account for the number of perplexed faces I’ve witnessed as a result of my telling them that I’m pursuing a degree in arts. “Oh cool. So you can draw very well?” they would respond. Sure… let’s just go with that.  

But for those who actually do realise that I am generally referring to the Humanities and Social Sciences, usually respond with a curious amalgam of incredulity and scepticism. They can’t seem to rationalise the purpose of an Arts education vis-à-vis an actual career trajectory. Follow up questions, along the lines of “What are you planning to do after that?” usually ensue. The general implied consensus is that my degree is of little value– and by extension; my intellect.

Ironically, the Arts faculty is by far the largest in NUS, with an intake of around 1200 undergrads per year. Critics reconcile this paradox by subscribing to the perception that the faculty is a ‘dumping-ground’ for those who could not secure places in science-related faculties (subsuming a considerable population of undergrads, like me, who willingly chose the Arts). Alas, this perpetuates the notion that the Arts kids are just not ‘smart’ enough.

Now that I have established the context within which my education is being perceived by others –although I admit that these are my sole interpretation of general sentiments and are, thus, open to my bias/overstatements– I shall present a non-exhaustive list of reasons as to why my education is ‘ruining’ me.  Continue reading

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“Seriously, What Are You?”

“What are you?”

“Human.”

“No, seriously.”

“Racially ambiguous.”

 


I have been perpetually subjected to questions about my race/ethnicity over the past 21 years. It’s really such a pity that most encounter with fellow Singaporeans boil down to my race and the colour of my skin. Why can’t we all be colour-blind? I guess we never will be until our dear government decides to remove the ‘race’ category under our identification information. In other parts of the world, nationality would suffice. But here, it boils down to racial divisions – Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian, or Others.

Alas, I cannot change such social predicaments. So I heave a huge sigh, and try to have my fun with these racially-conscious people by giving them ridiculous responses. My best one yet is ‘mocha-flavoured goodness’. But in all seriousness, my formal answers do vary according to my mood. I usually start with ‘mixed’ as a standard response. But these busybodies would never be satiated by it. So, I say ‘Chindian’ (a common term in Singapore to denote Chinese–Indian). And if they have the misfortune to become privy to my official race (as per my ID) their vision gets swirly from confusion. “What the hell is Ceylonese?” they’d ask. Then, I would heave another huge sigh and give them the full picture.

Continue reading

The Freshman Chronicles

I have come to the end of the second week of this academic year. Having been away from a school setting for the past 2 years has clearly affected my adaptability. I have seemingly forgotten how tedious being a student can be – it’s a full time job that transcends ‘working hours’. It’s only the end of week two and I already have numerous readings back logged.

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Oh, how I miss the tranquility of bumming around. Now, I have to juggle school, co-curricular activities and trainings. I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that having a (social) life appears to be frivolous. This would explain the little or sporadic posts I have published on this blog over the past couple of weeks. I am also seriously wondering if I would even be able to find the time for any creative writing at all.

Anyhow, more on my university education. I’m a freshman from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Continue reading

The NLB Saga and Censorship

Over the past week, the Singapore National Library Board (NLB) opened itself to public discourse over its decision to pulp three homosexuality-themed books.

  1. And Tango Makes Three – features a pair of male penguins who raise a chick together (based on a true story, fyi)
  2. The White Swan Express – features lesbian adoptive parents
  3. Who’s In My Family – features same-sex parents

These books were originally placed under the Children’s Section, as intended. After receiving a complaint over its propriety, the board reviewed these titles and decided to pulp them. Pulp as in ‘destroy’. Pulp as in ‘turn into marsh’.

WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MESSAGE ARE YOU SENDING? Continue reading

A Stranger in an Oddly Familiar Kuala Lumpur

I just got back from my short getaway-trip to Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia. So, I guess it’s only right that I write about it- this is a blog after all.

Background

This was the first time I was travelling to KL, albeit it being only a 5-hour-drive away. Singapore was once part of the Malaysian Federation from 1963 to 1965. (We are a strong independent nation-state with commitment issues, apparently.) There are a number of similarities between, us, both countries. Having been under the same British colonial rule prior to independence, we have shared history. Our differences mainly ensued  from the varying degrees of industrialisation and development under different regimes. Continue reading

liberal stuck in a conservative nation

it saddens me;

in our seemingly modern society,
the continual indoctrination of these draconian laws –
in and by themselves –
contradicts the very notion of the contemporary first-world nations
that we seemingly intend to emulate.

wake up Singapore!