Re: [xmca] Allan Luke on Race and Language as Capital -- part 2

From: Ng Foo Keong <lefouque who-is-at>
Date: Wed Nov 26 2008 - 11:58:55 PST

hi Jay,

{ we met in a bus with ZhangBH at ICLS Conference 2008 going back to town }
it's good to 'see' you in xmca.

The issues we're discussing are weighty (as they concern the destiny
of planet Earth!) and thorny indeed and there are no easy answers.

In multi-cultural, multi-religious, 'meritocratic' Singapore, there
is general help for needy students and also specialised organizations
to help the various communities. We learn at least two languages in
school. English (actually "Singlish") is the first language and lingua
franca, which is not the mother tongue for most of us. The other
language is usually the "mother-tongue". We don't usually whine a
lot about gender and race. Teachers and students work hard, and we
have perfected the science of ace-ing the various high-stakes
International examinations.

Our language situation is confusing. Take me, .... please. My first
language is English, but I'm not a native speaker. My 2nd language is
Chinese Mandarin, which is officially my "mother tongue". But my real
mother tongue is Chinese Cantonese. I also learned German as 3rd
language in school. Being in Singapore also allows me to pick up
Chinese-Hokkien and some Malay. I also learn some French on my own.
So linguistically, I have an 'identity' crisis. However, I am potentially
able to understand and make connections with many people. I make a good
spy, and perhaps a good interpreter in an International crisis situation.

Is ours the ideal formula? I don't know. But Singapore has managed
to keep together relatively peacefully since independence for 43 years.
However, with globalization and increased mobility (esp. of well-educated
professionals), our national identity seems to be held together only by
Singlish (which is officially frowned upon) and good food (!?!).

Allan Luke did a stint heading Singapore's Centre for Research in
Pedagogy and Practice. He did a very good job of uncovering cracks
in our society and our school system, but our officials deem some details
too embarassing for international consumption. Like Allan, I shall not
spill the beans, except to say that our problems are not so unique that
they are not found in other parts of the world.

My PhD research concerns the development of mathematical identity of
several trainee-teachers. This is an intensive case study, using a
non-essentialist definition of 'identity' as a life story, and
viewing 'learning' as a change in identity. Encouraging reflexive
practice in teachers seems to be another way to initiate reform in
education, although this is by no means easy. All of my volunteer cases
(of different backgrounds) struggle through life as a teacher and life
in general.

Ng, Foo Keong
PhD Student
xmca mailing list
Received on Wed Nov 26 12:00:03 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Dec 01 2008 - 12:52:40 PST