To point the finger at one group or social role is classic 'victim-blaming'. The social structure is formulated and built on the premise of passive acceptance. I have had many students come to me after lectures and tell me that I should not criticise, that criticsim is negative. The mis-conception of criticism as fault finding, and argumentative or unnecessary is a myth in the land of 'lah-lah'.
Where are the examples of adults, fully matured, well educated arguing as opposed to all agreeing with each other on every issue?
My response can be viewed at Cogito and Power in Singapore.
Jan 17, 2005
Guilt-trip approach on youths won't work
THE article, 'Critical thinking straight from the heart' (ST, Jan 7), struck a chord with me as I too have numerous first-hand experiences of the 'wall' of cynicism and apathy that surrounds today's youth.
If young people are indeed disengaged from issues of national interest, guilt-tripping them by questioning their moral courage or value system is hardly likely to bring them back into the fold.
It must be realised that most members of the current generation take for granted that, to a large degree, they can control their own lives, whether in terms of relationships or careers, lifestyles or beliefs.
In contrast to the generation before, active civic participation is no longer part of the fabric of everyday life, something that you did without questioning its importance.
The issue of young people and politics is one of political passion. The problem is that most see their relationship to their country, and indeed the world around them, entirely passively.
Politics - the way the country and the world works - is something done to them by other people, over which they have no control and want no control.
Solving youth apathy means recognising that it is a problem and finding why it is a problem. Quick-fix solutions will only make it worse.
If the problem is that young people are not interested in politics, then politicians should get them interested. That does not mean, as many have argued, artificially creating some kind of 'youth-centric' politics.
That young people are interested only in young people's issues is a prejudice held by older generations. If it were true, why do teenagers always go on about animals and the environment? Those involved in politics should make it interesting.
If the problem is passivity, cut young people some slack.
Every problem a teenager faces - from poor grades to teenage angst - is now discussed threadbare and ascribed to low self-confidence, which in turn is seen to be the result of too much pressure on them by their parents, teachers and peers.
When even the tiniest aspect of young people's lives is linked to something that has been done for them or to them - and about which they have little control - it's little wonder that they feel helpless when confronted with the problems of the world.
If they are left alone a bit more to work through the problems of growing up, they might develop the self-confidence everyone says they are lacking, and start thinking about bigger things.
Alvin Harvey Kam Siew Wah (Dr)
Give priority to moral education
MANY are ready to observe that Singaporeans lack critical thinking skills. And they leave it at that. As if by pronouncing their stand, they have excluded themselves from the mass of people whom they have so degradingly labelled.
We do not need more naysayers to tell us we are a soul-less city with an artificial sheen of perfection. What we need are constructive suggestions on how to inculcate good moral values and a sense of belonging in young Singaporeans.
Everything we have achieved today did not seem plausible at the beginning. But we have done it. Singapore today is a marvellous example of successful out-of-the-box thinking.
If we have built this much in a short span of 40 years, we can definitely achieve some level of success in our efforts to develop our youth as good thinkers. We are not starting from zero. We have the resources, we have the will. All we need is to curb our cynicism.
For a start, let us bring back moral education lessons in a big way. Children need to be taught from young that there are some fundamental values to which we can adhere to. For example, basic courtesy to our elders, a sense of compassion, and giving even when we may not receive anything in return.