Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I've noticed that whenever Singaporeans meet, the questions that follow those about name, occupation and workplace invariably have to do with educational background. Where you studied, what you studied.

This probably has to do with Singapore's tiny size relative to other countries and the tendency for certain schools to assume reputations, even auras, beyond their geographical size. Throw in our general anxieties with education as a whole, and the result is that people have come to expect one another to exhibit certain traits based solely on where they studied. For instance, if you come from a St. Joseph's Institution or either Anglo-Chinese School, be prepared for jokes about poor Mandarin results for the rest of your life regardless of how well (or poorly) you did. We've even gone to the extent of saying that certain people have a "look" about them that indicates a certain school.

I myself have been a victim of this kind of stereotyping, and I like it even less now. Being pigeonholed by educational institutions and subjects shows a horrid lack of imagination. Shouldn't people be interesting enough on their own?

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