How do I go about student activism

September 28, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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I’m a JC 1 student and I am studying Hindi. I have been inspired by different types of (mainly Indian) activists, ranging from Gandhi to Savarkar.

To get to the point: Many of us studying under the Hindi Society Singapore feel that it is going in the wrong direction especially under the new discipline mistress who can be rude and unreasonable at times. Some of us have spoken up. However, those who do speak up are generally the people who get into disciplinary trouble often (like latecoming or inappropriate uniform etc) and are not taken very seriously. I feel I have a decent disciplinary record to be able to dialogue with a teacher comfortably.

So, my question is, how do I go about effecting change? Three methods are open to me: A one-on-one talk with a teacher I am comfortable with, formation of an activism network or formation of a sort of student council.

I am not sure how to start and present my point in such a way that it is firm, sounds reasonable and justified and that I do not end up being seen as a nuisance by the teachers.

I hope you can help.

CJ

SDP: First, congratulations on what seems to be a very matured level of reasoning on your part. By this we mean that you have not let apathy creep into your mindset. You have identified the problem and, more importantly, pro-actively sought ways to solve it. Unfortunately many Singaporeans of your age don’t think and act in a similar way.

The three ideas that you propose are excellent ones. There is no reason why you cannot carry them out concurrently. The one thing that you should not succumb to, especially at this young age, is the thought that you will become a nuisance to your teachers. This is a trend all too pervasive and overwhelming in this society of ours.

Good teachers will be able to identify students that need behavioural counseling. Great ones understand the need for young minds to freely express themselves and are able to foster a love of learning among their students, which includes dissent and, as a logical follow-up, problem-solving. Remember, the great minds that have shaped the course of history – Einstein, Gandhi, Mozart – all began as “nuisances”.

There is no one way to approach a problem. There are, however, a precept that have stood the test of time: When one’s action is guided by honesty, sincerity, courage, and dedication, one will more often than not win one’s opponent over.

We welcome you and your friends to visit us and get to know some of the Young Democrats. We wish you the very best.