A Tale or Two

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A Tale or Two

A Tale or Two

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
  • Shakespeare
Shakespeare and other English authors were not on the radar at Jurong Secondary School.

The background goes like this.  When I came back from my study leave at London University in 1975, I was posted to what the likes of the wealthy well-scrubbed boys in ACS would describe as a sink school.  Jurong Secondary School was initially a Chinese medium school tucked away in the 'jungle' of Jurong.  It expanded when Jurong became the hub of Singapore's industrial revolution.  It had to take in the English medium teachers and students but the reins of 'power' were held - or should I say, monopolised - by the Chinese stream Nanyang University graduates.  After a year spent in JSS, I dubbed them the Nanyang Mafia and sometimes the "Gang of Four" (as in Chairman Mao's PRC at that time).

The English stream students were treated like second class citizens.  They were constantly picked upon by the Disciplinary Teachers, mainly  Nanyangians.  Those from the Chinese stream were treated with kid gloves.  

My best friend  KT  was a brilliant English Literature teacher but she was relegated to teaching English as a Second Language in the Chinese Stream.  As she was not a Graduate she had to give way to someone who was .  KT and I will never forget this Graduate's excuse for not wanting to teach Shakespeare's  "As You Like It".  She did not study that particular play while she was in University!!!!  Do they still make graduate teachers like that today?

So  KT went to her first ESL lesson in  Secondary Two  Chinese Stream .  When she greeted them with the usual "Good Morning Class" , they responded with grumpy mutterings - almost hostile.  Then one of  the girls stood up and haughtily asked KT,  "You are Chinese, why do you teach English?"  For a moment, KT was stunned.  She simply told them,  "I am here because I was given this duty by your Principal.  Whether you like it or not, English is an  important language for you to learn."

 

Read more at ANAK SI HAMID.