What matters more than grey matter
As DD finished her dinner very quickly today, I decided to reward her with an extra trip to the playground in the evening, and bring DS along too. DH was on his way home and going to meet us directly there after he’d parked his car.
As we got there, there were a couple of boys shooting their basketballs through the play area monkey bars and the balls were flying off quite violently at times and bouncing off the slide with loud thuds. I watched them for a little while to see what they would do in view of the arrival of a little 2 year old who was obviously eager to go on the slides. Nothing. So after five minutes, I politely asked one of them if they would consider playing a little further away so DD could climb the slide safely without worry of a stray basketball hitting her (or me, or DS, since I had to be around to supervise her climbing). The boy said okay and moved off, for all of five minutes, before lo and behold, his basketball really did come flying down onto the slide, bounced off just behind DD as she was going down the slide halfway, narrowly missing her and skidded off to a landing on the sand beside the slide. He mumbled a sorry only after catching the look of consternation I gave him. By coincidence, the other boy’s basketball had sailed through the air and landed on my lower back. Now to his defence, the other boy had been playing a little further off so it probably really was a true accident, and after another mumbled sorry from the second boy, both boys ambled off as DH was just arriving on the scene.
I don’t know about you but I for one, lament the lack of moral responsiveness in today’s generation of school-going children. Personally, I feel it is a tragedy when 10-12 year olds have to be told to give way to tiny toddlers. And that they cannot have so much self-discipline to last more than five minutes before they revert to their irresponsible play. And when they have committed a wrong, to be braver about facing the music than mumbling inaudible apologies to the air and sauntering off. The community centre basketball court, a much more appropriate place for them to shoot baskets, is a mere 10 minute walk away. This is a playground designed for little children, let the little children play!
Maybe I just don’t meet that many school-going children, or I am unlucky in that respect, that I always seem to encounter more of the arrogant, cocky, too-cool-for-their-duds variety who are always only too eager to display their prowess in the English vocabulary, albeit on the fouler side, and who think that that impresses all who should cross their path. Raising a generation of Harvard-headed scholars with very full brains but empty moral warehouses would seem to be the direction that many parents and the education system are headed today. Character development does not matter, only how many A stars in the PSLE to qualify for a better secondary school, and how many points to qualify for a better Junior College, and how many distinctions to get into the hot courses in the universities.
Every parent wants their child(ren) to have the best opportunities to be all they can be academically. So do I. But I draw the line when academic excellence comes with the price of moral bankruptcy. Academic excellence may get one to the financial peak fast in life…but life for all its temporal nature still runs longer than the working years, and I believe it is a character rooted in moral responsiveness that will carry one through all of life’s challenges for the longer haul.