Last week, in light of National Day, I used the national pledge that we in schools recite every morning as lesson material. (authentic learning!)
“We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”
Find out more about the history of the pledge here.
Little strips in our national colours of red and white were used (mini craft therapy for myself amidst the marking). Each student would receive a random phrase from the pledge and have 4 minutes to free-write.
It made way for some interesting discussion, as I’d hoped.
The student given “to build a democratic society” echoed Churchill’s doubts about a democratic system – that it is ideal to give the public the right to vote but the stupidity she reads on social media makes her worried about putting that power in the hands of the common man.
That prompted another student to propose that only the educated should be allowed to vote. A quick debate ensued, considering how that system will no longer be representative and will possibly make the country better in the long term, but that’s only if we get through the chaos in the short-term = no go.
The two who received “for our nation” questioned the necessity of sacrifice. One shared honestly that she is as self-entitled as the rest, and cannot see the point of having to contribute to the country. Others were sympathetic to the idea, but could see how disturbing that might be for our future.
I am quite glad that other major issues about citizenship, freedom of religion, socio-economic (in)equality, the opportunity cost of simple happiness for prosperity’s sake were briefly covered by the students’ free-write and sharing. This is a lesson I’d repeat for new students next year!