Going to school should be a pleasant experience

I would like to invite everyone to take a trip down memory lane back to the time when you were 7. Do you remember your school going experience? I remember mine quite clearly.

At age 7, when I was ready for Std One (I didn’t attend any kindergarden), I went to school on a school bus on the first day of school. I had my elder brothers and sisters in the same bus. We all wore different sets of uniforms. Elder sister in her secondary school uniform, elder brother in his secondary school uniform, second sis in her primary school uniform and second brother in his primary school uniform and me in my spanking new primary school uniform. We all attended different schools but took the same school bus.

I did not have a very pleasant time at school because I was bullied by some other 7 year olds. One of them would take away my pencil and wouldn’t let me finish my work until she finished hers first. And there were some teachers whom I was really afraid of. One of them was the PE teacher. She had bulging eyes like those of a goldfish and she was very very fierce. I was terrified of her especially when she stared at me with her goldfish eyes. I was not very good at sports so that made it worse.

I hated school so much that one day I decided to go home on my own. Now my brother was in the morning session and I was in the afternoon session. So when the schoolbus dropped me off at school, I waited till the schoolbus was ready to pick those from the morning session home. Brother was in the school next door. So I walked over there on my own and I waited for the bus. And when brother came to board the bus, I climbed up the bus after him to go home. Haha. My fear and dislike of school was so great that I, who was only 7 then, could come up with this innovative way to go home. No, I was not being naughty, I was just afraid. I was a good kid, quiet and timid but brave enough to think of a way to take the bus home on my own because of my fear.

In this dangerous age, what I did would be very dangerous indeed. I could have been kidnapped by bad people.

I want the school going experience of my children to be better than this. Not filled with fear so it is with great worry that I read this article: Caning of Schoolgirls is nothing new by V.K. Chin of the STAR especially these parts……

In Chinese-medium schools, caning would start on the first day of Standard One. …….Of course this would be done in the classroom and on pupils of both sexes, especially in the first week of school……..This is one way for teachers to impose their authority, and the cane would be used for the slightest excuse. Once pupils get the message, they tend to behave…….Some of them have developed a phobia and would become hysterical should they forget to bring a book.  (My sister came across one such poor sweet little 7 year old girl one day when she was picking up her son from school. The girl was crying with fear at the school gates afraid to go in …. because she could not complete her homeworm. “Nevermind still got time, still got time” my sister and another mother coaxed her while she continued to write frantically in her exercise book.)

There was one point in my schooling days (I changed several schools) where public caning was practised as a disciplinary action. It was a co-ed secondary school. I support those kinds of disciplinary caning for diehard trouble makers and gangsters in school but certainly not caning of very young children simply because they forgot to bring their workbook to school!

What do you think?

In another incident in school not related to caning, I was in a strict secondary all girl’s school. We had to tie up our hair and pin down the fringe. Once I was caught totally by surprise when called up by the strict principal who said that my fringe was too long and proceeded to cut it off in public. I felt totally humiliated. I was totally surprised by it too because I always abide by the rules and my hair was tight up neatly with the fringe pinned up but it must have gotten loose. It was another horrible incident which I will always remember of my school days. These incidents leave a bad taste in my mouth. I think the action by the principal was way too harsh. She could have just called me up to give me a warning instead of taking the liberty of being hairdresser.

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  1. daniel says:

    i attended one of those “Canning Is Mandatory” school, and i used to be so scared to go to school. Gave so many excuses not to go.. ;p

    So, will you send your child to one of those “Canning is mandatory” schools when the time comes?

  2. bengbeng says:

    i was beaten up so badly on my first day of kindergarten because i was crying. my mum had gone to pick up my sisters. until today i have never been so badly assaulted. i didnt need to b hospitalized or anything but i was blue n black all over excluding the face. he told me to not cry n beat me . i was in pain how could i not cry and he beat up real good n asked me not to cry while he beat me with adult force. i didnt deserve that. i definitely didnt

    Oh No! Sometimes when a child cry something snaps in the caregiver and they beat the child to shut them up. Thats the fearful thing about having maids too. Eh, you know where that guy is now anot, I go and beat him up for you. Lol!

  3. Shireen says:

    It all depends on what misconduct the pupil does. If they are real serious ones like being caught bullying another student or stealing or sexual harassment, then maybe caning ought to be carried out. Some kids need harsh punishment and strict discipline to learn their lesson. If it’s minor misconducts like being too noisy or talkative, then being reprimanded would suffice. That’s just my humble opinion.

    I most certainly agree with you. Serious offences requires more serious punishment but not minor ones. I remember reading on a blog that one boy forgot to bring his exercise book so he confessed and suggested to the teacher that he do his work on a piece of paper but he was beaten up anyway. Sigh.

  4. karenyiau says:

    I didn’t really lke going to school because I’m too lazy to wake up in the morning, and lazy to do homework too.

    I don’t remember being lazy to do homework but yes, I used to get up in the nick of time. Sometimes when the bus arrived, I would still be struggling to get dressed. 😛

  5. Jane says:

    I’m from Australia, and luckily caning was made illegal some years back, and even then girls weren’t caned often.

    Some of the stories you have told are so scary. I’m so grateful that my daughter, son and I have the opportunity to be a part of a school system that actually cares about the children they are caring for.

    Thank you for sharing what it was like for you. I will think about what you have been through for a long time.

    Take care 🙂

    Hello Jane, thank you for dropping by my blog. FYI parents here in Malaysia have a choice to send their children to either a national school (where most subjects are taught in Malay) or a Chinese/Tamil school where pupils have a chance to learn their mother tongue. The Chinese schools are better academically as compared to the national schools but they do use scare tactics as a form of discipline. So parents here are in a dilemma as we have to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea. The education system here is still very exam oriented and puts a lot of pressure on the kids to acheive academic excellence.

  6. Klaw says:

    Ah well, my Primary and Secondary were all-boys, and the cane was ever present in our lives. I don’t remember fearing it, and in fact, it was kinda needed because guys in my school were crazy (notorious gangster high school in Ipoh).

    Are you one of the gangsters? Haha.

  7. Annie Tan says:

    On the 2nd day of school, s girl in front of me suddenly cried. I held her arm and asked her what happened. At that moment the class teacher walked over and that girl told her that I beaten her. That’s how I got caned on my 2nd day of school… I was totally shocked! Not by the cane , cause I was caned at home too – immune edi. I was shocked by that girl, telling lie in broaddaylight. Stayed far far from her since then.

    You are shocked by that girl but I am more shocked by the action of the class teacher who caned you for something you did not do!

  8. Suzette says:

    Hmm… good topic for discussion. Guess what? These few days, dunno why I kept thinking back of my old school days, and there was a scene kept replayed in my mind.

    It was midnight, after everyone fell asleep, I cried in the living room, frantically trying to search for a book (can’t remember what book was it, must be some homework). It must be the end of holiday, next day was a new school day. I cried and cried and cried, looked up and down and every corner. Prayed in front of the teh-chu-kong, hoped for some miracles. That was in my primary school age.

    I did very well in school, knows to be a ‘good girl’, top student. But in S4 and S5, I did very badly. I was canned so many times and my parents were called to school.

    Unfortunately, in those days, parents also supported canning. After my dad saw the teachers, when we reached home, I was asked to kneel down in fron of the ancestor’s altar, and I was canned further. I was even asked to carry a basket to ‘sell-laziness’ on the eve of CNY – to punish (humiliate) me for my laziness in not completing my homework.

    I was scared of school. I didn’t have friends in school. Literally NONE. I only started to make friends in high school and uni. See what the old canning school days done to me?

    Whether I am going to send my children to schools that can them? I think that is hard to be avoided – unfortunately the system is like this now!!! I would like to know which Chinese schoold do not can children, I’d definitely go for it!

    Oh Gosh Suzette, sounds like you had a hard time in school but you turned out alright so maybe thats all that matters. Yes, I would also like to know a Chinese school that do not cane little children or a National school that is less lepak. Choosing between the two is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. Sigh. Still cannot decide.

  9. Suzette says:

    Your children are older, so you feel the urge of deciding now. For me, I have 1 more year to decide. 😛 But the irony is there, we have to decide for their future. Sigh! The burden is so heavy to make such decision.

    One of my ex-secondary schoolmate who didn’t go to chinese school blamed her parents for not sending her there, and as a result she is unable to read and write Chinese – a disadvantage she sees.

    This is the main reason I want my children to go to a Chinese school. No matter how much we can teach them, we cannot teach them the language without using daily.

    I have an advantage of Chinese, and I am sort of safe in the recent re-org. I’m quite confident one of the job is mine as it takes care of the China region.

    Tough decision, right?

    Very tough. And I have to decide by next year.

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