It took my former workmate and canteen teatime kaki, Bruce Gale, an Aussie, to point out an open secret: older Singaporeans' appalling cluelessness about their country's modern history, despite having lived through, say, the formation of Malaysia, Konfrontasi, and the creation of ASEAN:
As Bruce pointed out, he was not referring to today's younger Singaporeans who learnt about colonial Singapore, post-colonial Singapore and post-independent Singapore vicariously through social studies lessons and national education talks (imparted, by now, by educators who themselves learnt about defining key events vicariously). Bruce mentioned a 50-something and a "well-educated" colleague who asked (incredulously), "How did Singapore get dragged into Konfrontasi?".
I, too, can testify that many of my contemporaries will refer to their O-levels and A-levels when harking back to their student days. For Heavens' sake! They, ie, my "generation", took the Senior Cambridge exams (School Certificate = today's O-levels; and Higher School Certificate = A-levels). No, we mustn't simplify that. The distinction reinforces our sense of history (just as the true Pioneer Generation cohorts will think of secondary-level education in terms of Form One to Form Five, and, thereafter, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth).
If we keep reducing everything to a discourse that only today's young can comprehend, then expect a further dumbing down of our historical sensibility. As it is, people now talk about the National University of Singapore as if it existed from Day One, with no predecessors. Aiyoh!
Still on cluelessness, I wonder how many Singaporeans are aware that the Earth revolves around the Sun (after all, isn't it said that "the sun rises in the east and sets in the west"?). I bring this up because of this AFP article, carried by insing.com:
One in 4 Americans unaware that Earth circles Sun: poll
Finally, dyscalculaic I may be, but I was intrigued by this teaser ad:
I may still have a fear of all sums, but -- thanks to Google -- I easily found out that the factors of 69 are 1, 3, 23 and 69. So the answer to the above question is 68. QED!