Just a thought

Dear well-intentioned educators who failed to think the idea through to its fullest ramifications,

With Chinese New Year just five days away, now is not the time to bring massive hordes of disinterested istudents on a putative educational fieldtrip to the heart of Chinatown. Even during the day, Chinatown is quite well-jammed with people who actually live and work in the neighbourhood, not to mention all those who took the day off to complete their holiday shopping. Witness the line of at least fifty people waiting in line for Lim Chee Guan bak kwa (pork or beef jerky) at approximately 2:30 pm today, winding far down the sidewalk and around the corner of other stalls.

And those are people who are actually going to spend lots and lots of money (given the current "festive" prices) at these shops. Your students, on the other hand, are just happy to have the afternoon off school, eager to run willy-nilly through the crowds and makeshift stalls --- as evinced by the number of times I saw teachers and chaperones yell after an errant student in school uniform or yank them back towards the group. Your students will ooh and aah over the many multicoloured muah chee/mochi flavours, but does anyone of them wield the spending power of an impatient woman who has to stock up to feed up to one hundred guests over the New Year? I think not. And the students are getting in the way of the people with the money, while they're at it, which can't make the stallholders very happy.

Zhangde Primary, Canberra Secondary and a special school (I couldn't identify the uniform)--- I am delighted that you think your students ought to see what the real world is like. I think there's plenty to show and teach our children in Chinatown. I would respectfully suggest, however, that a fieldtrip during the current Chinese New Year madness merely teaches our children that one must worship at the altar of the consumer god in order to appreciate one's heritage.

Come back after the commercial insanity's packed up for the year. Show them what the streets are like the rest of the year, and why that still makes it Chinatown, despite every street corner not being garlanded in red and gold anymore. Peel back the layers of monetary gratification for them and show them what history and real heritage lies there. Before May, take them on a quiet afternoon through the rabbit warren of People's Park Centre (slated to be "upgraded" this year, so all the old stallholders have to move out by May --- and we know what usually happens then) and don't let their kneejerk reactions about it being dirty put you off.

Just do it all after the Chinese New Year. Thank you.


PS: Gongxi facai!

PPS: What's with maids accompanying primary school student groups on fieldtrips these days?


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At 1/24/2006 8:19 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

bringing students out on LJs near festivities, the goods and decorations become distractions when the real focus should be the normality an everyday Chinatown is like.

the real Chinatown? the hawkers, the workers, the shopowners, the old folks who seek to play chess under the ill-designed square.

ah well, we hope educators learn not to conduct excursions just so ;-)

At 1/24/2006 7:04 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

Happy Chinese New Year to you too!

I celebrated by forgetting, then throwing up into my potted plant. Hmmmm, food and wine are my friends.

At 1/25/2006 1:55 am , Blogger kungfuzi said...

Uninterested, not disinterested. Tsk tsk! :P

At 1/25/2006 6:13 am , Blogger limegreenspyda said...

whose idea is it, anyway, for "field" trips to chinatown 3 days before d-day?

perhaps it's the teachers' idea of a day off from lesson-planning?

i'd blame those who give the green light for such an excursion, i suppose.

At 1/25/2006 10:55 am , Blogger Tym said...

Nardac > Chinese New Year's not till Sunday, so there's still plenty of time for food and wine!

CWK > "Disinterested" can also mean "uninterested".


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