Oriental Moon, duality of life and too much ipad

Very random heading I know. I shall try to explain.

A bunch of my high school alumni friends went for the Oriental Moon concert – Dr Liang Wern Fook’s xinyao classics played by a chinese orchestra. The producer of the corresponding CD, Jiu Jian, was my high school senior and Dr Liang of course was my JC senior so I felt very inclined to support the performance.

After the concert we were planning to head to Timbre for a drink but seeing the long queue, one of us persuaded Viet Lang, which was closing, to serve us some drinks while we sat outside. Jiu Jian, who’s of course the multi-talented Singaporean musician and fouder of Konen Creative (the group that organised this concert) joined us later. Its amazing how just having one thing in common like having gone to the same high school, albeit more than 10 years apart, can so easily bring down the walls between human beings and compel us to share such deep and personal thoughts. Everyone in the group learnt a lot about each other that day.

Puyee, who’s of course the source of deep thoughts in our group shared about the duality of life. How something is “hot” only because something else is relatively “cold”. Someone is “tall” only because someone else is relatively “short”. And hence bad patches that someone else goes through reminds us of how fortunate we are relatively. And in a sense its because that person went through the pain that we do not have to go through the pain ourselves. So what we should do is listen deeply when others share their pain. I’m not quite sure I entirely follow the chain of reasoning, perhaps I just don’t have the wisdom to yet. But I certainly agree with the listening deeply to other’s problems and putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes part. I find it interesting that every weekend I seem to have some encounter that teaches me how to deal with people, be it the “love not just your friends but also your enemy” sermon 2 sundays ago or the “listen deeply” reminder last saturday. And these help sustain me at the meet the people’s sessions every monday. The MPS sessions are meaningful, I always learn a lot and feel good whenever I am able to help. But at the same time they are emotionally draining. I’m glad that every weekend somehow I get a reminder of how I should carry myself and how best to help others.

Anyhow, the conversation went from that to Jiu Jian’s Konen Creative. The great job he’s doing there with giving the kids an opportunity to perform and using Dr Liang’s xinyao classics for their music classes so they actually go through a mini history / chinese language class at the same time. From there we went on about how kids these days have too little real world experience and spend too much time addicted to technology. One of the guys complained that his wife just throws his son an iphone whenever the son gets cranky. Its true the son does stop being a nuisance, but is it really good for him. These gadgets are addictive. They are designed to be addictive. And therein lies the problem. Technology in moderation I feel is not a problem. For example, on a long car ride where the child is strapped on a car seat, she might as well be watching an educational video or doing some digital jigsaw puzzle or colouring sort of activity. That’s not a problem as long as when the destination is reached, the child is able to put down the device and enjoy the scenary and the interaction with actual human beings. So its up to the parents to moderate. I’m still finding my way. Some days, it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle because once Sophia sees the ipad she insists on having it. The key, though, is being consistent. I’m still impsosing a no-TV rule but I reckon when the rule is lifted I will set aside permitted TV times, outside of which TV is strictly prohibited. I need to think about ipad rules still. Perhaps on trips only. The one most important thing for parents to remember I think is lead by example. If the parents are tapping away on an iphone all the time, they can hardly expect the child to be happily playing with their teddy bear or trucks by the side. The nature of my work makes it inevitable that I need to check my emails and reply to them often. The most I can do is to be very disciplined and reply only to the absolute essentials in front of Sophia, leaving the rest to office hours or when she is asleep. Tremendous will power is required and I hope I will be able to summon it.

Funny how a bunch of us RV alumnis were having this conversation about too much technology (especially iphone and ipad) just at a time where our alma mata is coming under the spotlight for trying to introduce the ipad into the classroom. It is a move very unlike the traditionally conservative school, but not unlike the unconventional principal. I don’t have strong views about whether its a good or bad thing but I think I am leaning towards introducing technology in school as a good thing. For one, its much more environmentally friendly than textbooks and notepaper. I’ve also always found it more efficient to type than to write. I manage to take more down and there’s less of a problem deciphering what I took down. Though with an ipad its probably still faster to write than to type on the touchscreen, at the moment. However, I don’t think making use of ipads, tablets or similar devices is something individual schools can introduce efficiently. For example, publishers will probably not create and license out digital versions of their textbooks just for one school but the Ministry of Education will have the economies of scale to carry out that negotiation. Affordability is of course also an issue. Even to people my age an ipad can still be considered a luxury. Again the ministry with the economies of scale of the entire nation’s schools may be able to negotiate a reasonable price and come up with a scheme to subsidise needy students much more efficiently. The problem, of course, is that technology moves so fast withat by the time the ministry comes up with a scheme, technology may have overtaken it. So perhaps each individual school principal may need to do whatever he/she can within a school’s means.

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