Friday, August 05, 2005

Was Heißt ein Kindergarten?

I was going home with the father the other day. He drove past this as we were heading into our house and after seeing the below scene, he made a comment to me.

This in different angles...




The father commented, "Isn't it a huge waste of space to have this big patch of land here?" As can see in the background, this piece of land can be considered to be situated in a prime area, of course, that piece of land would be very expensive and valuable if a developer would to catch his eye upon, but I disagreed with the father's view that that patch of land was a waste and commente indignantly.

"No! That's not a huge waste, for kids to run around and play and learn and grow up and cultivate creativity, that little piece of land is worth it. I even think that that piece of land is not big enough for the kids to explore in. If you see the kindergardens in Germany..." and I went on.

In Germany there is this sort of kindergardens where kids go to during the summer holidays, they call it der Weltkindergarten, a kind of kindergarden held usually in the middle of the woods. Children are to roam free in the woods learning about life and nature and looks for little little "treasures" by themselves and are taught how to take care of it. Then they would sit around a fire and sing and dance happily. There is not such thing as tests or exams or spellings or dictations for the kids. No books, no pens, if they want to write, they grab a twig and scratch on the ground. Life was carefree and easy for them. And I think can really learn a lot from that sort of education. At least they were learning and not studying.

I was lucky that when I was in Germany, one of my friend's host brought us to the Weltkindergarten his daughter was with. Here are some pictures...

the actual "room" for the class is a wagon situated in the middle of the woods, but according to Rheiner, the kids don't usually stay in the wagon unless it rains, usually the kids are exploring outside or playing in the woods.


Just a long rope tied onto a tree can amuse a kid for one whole day. Don't even need swings or anything and viola... I really regret having weak arm muscles and can't hold myself up on the rope to swing.

But at least I was once there. And even though I can't experience the kindergarden there and can see how kids grow up first hand. It was really an eye opener.

After seeing how much space a kid can have in Germany, an entire forest no less (!), what's with that little yicky garden in the middle of a private housing estate?

But of course, things come with a price. Rheiner did say that that sort of Kindergarten were more expensive than the normal ones kids go to regularly, but I'd think that the long term benefits do make that investment worthwhile. Even in Singapore, I can say that that Kindergarden above is definitely more expensive that the pathetic PAPs in HDB estates, the kind of kindergardens which teaches kids to study study study until they all end up with spectacles on the faces when they enter primary school.

Is PAP a kindergarden? This brings back to my title, what is a kindergarden?

Kindergarden came from the German term Kindergarten, which would mean a garden for the children. May I know where is the garden in our PAPs? I think there is this government conspiracy of the government wanting to making Singapore into the country will a 100% myopic rate, so they train the kids in the government kindergardens to be studious little mice and turn them geeky. I'd never want my kid to turn out like that.

But it seems like decent kindergardens are only situated in private housing estate. I'm not complaining since I'm staying there too, and I don't think I'll want to move into a HDB estate one day, but I really pity the average Singaporeans, they'd be stuck in this vicious cycle of the education system.

Rich kids get to go to private kindergardens, poor kids end up in PAP. Rich kids grow up to be smarter than poor kids and they become richer while poor kids become poor adults. Rich adults have rich kids, poor adults have poor kids. Rich adult sends rich kid back to a private kindergarden, poor adult sends poor kid back to PAP. But the education system is not only about kindergardens. Rich kids go to good primary schools, poor kids go to neighbourhood primary schools. Rich kid grows up smart and rich, poor kid remains poor. Rich adult sends rich kids back to his primary school which poor kid cannot get in because there is not enough space in the good primary school.

I think this primary school system is also a form of elitism. By letting your child have priority in returning to your primary school is like congregating all the smart and rich kids together. But this also makes the school successful. No, I'm not complaining since I came from Tao Nan School, and I'm 100% sure that my child will enter that school when he is six, but I just pity the average Singaporean.

Kids from good primary schools end up in good secondary schools and kids from good secondary schools end up in good junior colleges and kids from good junior colleges end up in university and kids from universities end up getting a good job and kids with good jobs end up getting richer, and rich kids procreate to get more rich kids...

But then again, dear uncle Harry is a staunch elitist ain't he?

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