Thursday, October 10, 2013

Burning: Aye or Nay?

I believe you must have read about the recent uproar among the netizens in regards to a group of children and parents appearing to be burning textbooks following the recent PSLE.


This really sparked a discussion whether the action was a form of degrading knowledge and education, while some questioned why the books were not given to needy students instead.

However, the parent who organised the burning to celebrate the end of his son’s PSLE clarified that textbooks had not been set on fire, but only assessment papers and schoolwork, as they were the sources of stress.

DJ Burning

In our current society, we are getting used to comment quickly on what others are doing, without sparing a second thought on what are the consequences of doing so.

To be fair, the act of burning textbooks or assessment books is not something easily accepted in many context. Personally, the act reminds me of the infamous 焚書坑儒 (burning of books and burying of scholars) events that happened around the Qin Dynasty. Probably because of such historical tragic, the current books burning event brought about more heat than expected. Granted that the person who initiated the act, DJ Arnold Gay is not Chinese, thus he may not know the significance of doing such a thing.

A friend commented on his Facebook saying, “What the children and parents did could have been what we would have hoped to do at some point of our schooling days. Just that we didn’t have the guts back then.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not for burning books. In fact, I am leaning towards the group that felt that pinch because the books (textbooks or assessments) can really be a blessing to many needy students around. However, I also feel that maybe some of us are too fast to condemn and may have posted certain remarks that are not necessary.

Just think of what would the involved children be thinking now? After a celebration party, now they are in the lime light for not respecting knowledge, for not being considerate to the needy, etc. Aren’t the children stressed enough from all the examinations (PSLE)? Why do we still want to add on to it? Of course, some may argue that the fault is with the parents, but again, who are we to comment?

Digging deep into the entire issue, maybe the root cause is the education system in Singapore. Is it producing educated children at the expense of having stressed out kids? Are we stifling the creativity of the children but setting a not so necessary examination bar?

I don’t know. What I do know is, in 6 years time, my Joey will be going through the same system and how will she handle it? Will I be like most Singaporean parents, sitting through PSLE again but this time with my child?

Oh God, please help me!


  1. It's a world of social media and since it's on the newspaper and Facebook, it's subjected to criticism. Otherwise they could just keep it private if it was meant to be their private 'celebration'.

    1. Well, I guess you are right to say so.. But my 'sigh' is the 'no hold' manner of the public when it comes to things like this.. Gone are the days when we are a bit more conservative of what we say to others.. Again like I mentioned, not much thought is put into the consequences after that..