if I could take you away

I meant to post last night after an absolutely uplifting day but then I received a lovely letter and spent the rest of the night (and my introspective energy) replying it.

Some highlights:

– A good double-block with one class today: I managed to memorize all most of the 36 girls’ names in about 15 minutes. I think it makes a difference, knowing their names – of course, more respect for staff throughout the years who have managed to remember mine. I was more than surprised to find out that my eighth-grade Physics teacher remembered who I was, since I had barely held on to hers and I never stood out in my science classes. But I felt I struck enough rapport with this class, finally, and it’s a pity that my contract might end in about two weeks.

– An excellent late lunch with a dear former history teacher and two of my closest intellectual companions, all of whom are doing very exciting things. In some ways, it surprises me, and probably many of my friends, that I have kept in such close contact with a few of my teachers, but especially after two years spent on first-name basis with my teachers (even the ones I didn’t particularly care for), it is easier to come back and see them as, if not friends, then at least mentors, instead of teachers. My teacher left my old school last year, and is running a fledging and optimistically successful concept tuition centre of his own now, while one of my friends is heading to Princeton, and another will be coming to Oxford with me.

I live in exciting times, my history teacher reminded me. He impressed upon us how many more opportunities we have as youths today, and how excited he is on our behalf. He also tried to chase us out of Singapore, which is more than ironic for us, I think, because we’re already leaving for university, and also because the other teacher with whom we are very close keeps exhorting us to stay, or if not, at least return. (I also found out yesterday afternoon that there exist a significant … difference in opinion between the two of them, which I hadn’t really known.)

Thinking about my four classes yesterday, it occurred to me that when I assign characters to the class as a whole, I’m really investing my own, naturally subjective, perceptions of them as objective properties of their classes’ ‘essences’. Like an apple, they don’t really possess any neutral qualities – their colors and all are all imposed externally through the perspective from my vantage point, my observations. Kant’s transcendental idealism and all. There, that’s the extent of my rudimentary philosophical knowledge. I am woefully underprepared for university ): But I’m really quite fond of all of the girls, though I am mortified to imagine myself as one of them, six years ago.

My teacher did tell us (at length) about how he thought the school environment had turned quite stifling, and it was affecting the girls quite negatively. Even in the short time I’ve been there, I’ve seen some evidence of that, when I’ll assign them online work using social media sites and they’ll look at me all agog, and asked multiple times “so … do we go on Twitter? Like, the actual site? Or just write a word document?” and I’ll have to reassure them multiple times that yes, they type in ‘’ into their address bars and go to the goddamn site. It’s funny, of course. He said the school was doing its students a disadvantage by being so transparent about all their assessments and learning methods and focus on accountability, but that was what I was griping about in Pearson, wasn’t it? We are all looking for a happy medium.

But my teacher regaled us with his many ideas, like his primary school philosophy enrichment course or his creepy idea for a thriller screenplay set in Singapore or his documentary concept, and it is always inspiring to listen to people talk about what drives them. His family, too, with his new son, was sweet and comforting to hear about.

Meanwhile, have finally received my CAS number, but I am appalled to find out that flights to London in September cost a cool SGD 1500 ): It was less expensive to fly from Vancouver, seriously.



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