The difference between a gold star and detention

(There is an update to this post, that I feel that you should read after you have read this post.)

I got nieces (and nephews) in both Singapore and Netherlands(That’s Holland to some of you), as some of you who have followed my blog will know that my sister is living in Amsterdam, and my brother is still living in Singapore. They both got some amazing and wonderful children that I can’t help to adore – like they adore me. I mean what is there not to love about an aunt who constantly bribe with cupcakes, hugs and even got the patience to play console games with them?

One of my nieces in Amsterdam, wrote an essay about me and why I am the best Aunt someone ever could have, and that I by the way liked women (other girls to her), just like her teacher did and that she wished that I could live with them in Amsterdam because “mom is not as strict when she is visiting”.

She is the same who loudly told her class mates that she hope that I could marry her teacher, because “it would be so beautiful with two brides”. Yes I guess that in her optics, that if one dressed up bride is good, then two brides at a wedding would be more than twice as good.

Two brides is equal to two wedding cakes right? right??

That also lead to some awkward laughs between me and her teacher. I mean, it is on the same level as when your straight friends invite you to a dinner, and then desperately look for another lesbian for the dinner, to even the same-sex level, and then try to set the two of you up, because they only know the two of you.


Anyway, she in her essay described, from her view, my issues with some of my Singaporean family members, the divide it made, and that she hoped that everyone just could be good friends because she felt that it was unfair just because I liked “girls” and not “boys”.

Her essay gave her a gold star and an A.

My niece, my brothers daughter, in Singapore heard about that when they Skyped each other (or facetimed).

She is one of the shy and quiet ones who is often content with playing and reading by herself, but these two got some kind of magic connection that brings her out of her shell when they are together or skyping each other, and turns into one big blabber mouth when they are able to hang out. So when she heard that an essay about me got my niece in Netherlands a gold star, then the devil got into her because she absolutely did not want to be left behind in that game.

Yes, when I am on a group call with them on Skype, I always use clever tactics and don’t answer questions on who I like the most and so ;-) Super skill #129 you get when you have more than one niece or nephew who tend to ask leading questions.

“Describe a family member who inspire you”.
Was the topic for the essay.

My niece immediately jumped onto it and wrote about me, with inspiration from my niece’s essay in Netherlands.

She got an “F”, Fail, written with big red letters and a comment “Gays cannot be an inspiration in Singapore society!!”

That sweet little quiet girl, who hardly open her mouth unless she is spoken to, got crushed. But incredible enough, she also got pissed about her F and demanded an explanation in the class. Her teacher flatly told her to keep quiet and shut up, she refused and wanted to know why she got an F and I think for the first time in her life stood up to herself.

“You know why” was the only answer. She refused to budge, the teacher refused to give in, and so she ended up in detention for an essay that in Netherlands gave an A.

Brian, my brother were full of wonder. What in the world could have happen since they called him to the school. And then about her?

He rushed to the school worried that something have happened, only to be met with a little girl who couldn’t stop crying.

So what gives you an A in one country can sometimes give you an F in others. Something to think about, and wonder what that really means for the Singaporean society and the way we value the people who live in it.


(There is an update to this post, that I feel that you should read as well)


57 thoughts on “The difference between a gold star and detention

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, you are very blessed to have such a great source of happiness coming from family members – especially the young.

    The education system here is as unforgiving and fueled by stereotypes.

  2. I am a teacher. And I would have given her an ‘A’.
    Maybe we should consider it may be the teacher and not the system.

    • If you are a gay/lesbian, of cause you will give her “A” to encourage more people to like gay/lesbian. I have no issue with gay/lesbian but when you force me to recognize you, like I force gay to only like girl and not boy, then it will be a problem with me.

      • I feel like you’re GREATLY mistaken about recognising the LGBT community here, we are not forcing you to have a gay partner or anything, we are asking for you to treat us like humans, have equal rights to love. Of course it will be a problem if we force a straight like you to like a boy (not that we can force you to), that will be inhumane, right? Like what Singapore society has done to silently pressurize (censorship:D) the LGBT community to hide their identities. Outing yourself in this society may isolate you from your family, friends and maybe even lose your job. So is that right for us to be treated this way?

  3. hi,

    Please do keep on encouraging both girls especially the one who got such a bad and “uneducated” treatment from a person whose job is only to inspire, encourage and guide the young.

    It’s quite amazing that at this time and age that such prejudices is so deep-rooted.

    It is obvious that the educational environment and system here is still very much “first world” standard, from the other end.

    • I think you conveniently forget and ignore the fact that the teacher in Netherlands is a lesbian herself…would she not want to inspire here students that lesbianism is normal? It is quite amazing how twisted beings like you keep twisting and twisting to suit your own deformed sexual orientation and agenda!

      • Homosexuality is in Netherlands considered normal and was among other the first country in the world to give gays the same civill rights as heterosexuals, so yes just like straight teachers in Netherlands she follow a curriculum that states that being LGBT is just another form of normality and not something that should be looked down on.

      • Tony I find your reply really manly and is overflowing with machismo and testosterone. I am truly inspired and mesmerised by you. I would die to meet you in real life, and who knows, we may click. xx

      • I’m from the Netherlands, I’m a woman, I am a teacher and I’m not a Lesbian BUT I would still have given that girl a gold star for her essay…

  4. Where is the essay? It needs to be scanned and shown to the rest of Singapore and the world! That bigoted teacher needs serious counselling. Even if she doesn’t agree with your niece’s point of view, the essay should be graded according to how well it’s written, the points, flow, vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure…

    • Nothing surprising coming from a faggot like you…LGBT freaks like you are becoming more and more fascist bullies, and a pack of frenzied wolf waiting to take on anyone who disagrees with your highly unnatural, deviant and abnormal sexual fetish!

      • “Nothing surprising coming from a faggot like you…LGBT freaks like you are becoming more and more fascist bullies, and a pack of frenzied wolf waiting to take on anyone who disagrees with your highly unnatural, deviant and abnormal sexual fetish!”

        oh Tony, there seems to be only one frenzied wolf here.

  5. This is not really about the education system, but rather about the teacher who graded the essay, and her prejudices. Reveal the name of the school and bring this to national attention in Singapore. There are a lot of LGBT rights supporters in Singapore, and the annual Pink Dot event draws thousands of Singaporeans.

    Nothing better than to put the school in a spotlight and to highlight the issue of how education institutions should be more selective about the type of teachers they hire.

      • Tony, stuff a giant dick up your ass, you castrated pathetic excuse of a human being who was probably walloped by his mother and who jerks off alone because he’l never get a girlfriend to like a pathetic loser like him

      • Someone is a “fascist bully” for supporting civil rights such as LGBT rights? Then I will gladly be a “fascist bully”, than an ignorant bigot. Explain how LGBT individuals affect you? They do not at all. Maybe you should live on a desert island if you only want to exist with people exactly like you.

  6. Hmmm…why did everyone here conveniently ignored the fact that the teacher in Netherlands is a lesbian just like the writer? Would the lesbian teacher disagrees with the niece in Netherlands, or she would be too overly ecstatic in praising her? The writer is ating the obvious. Anyway, unnatural, deviant and abnormal sexual orientation cannot and should never be considered inspirational!

    • Tony. It is true that my nieces teacher is gay, but unlike a lot of others she is not including her sexuality in the education. Yes her “children” aka students, know that she is gay, but that is all there is to it.

      I don’t see that she is giving preference to one student over another just because of the essay.

      • How would a children know that her teacher is a gay unless her teacher brag about being gay and it’s alright to be a gay to her all the time. The point is, no one is against gay but gay seems to like to brag around and show the world they are gay as well as force straight people to accept them as equal and normal. Would you feel good if straight people force you to admit that gay is wrong ?

    • wow, little man throwing big words.

      You do not call others fascist just because people are seeking recognization and legitimacy, while you’re trying to tell people what they to behave or think in a certain way that YOU want. In fact, look at yourself, and you may find that your opinions are much more fascist in nature.(I seriously doubt you understand the meaning of it).

      A person’s sexual orientation doesn’t matter, when considering if a person is inspiring or not. Great people were brought down by bigots like you, who cannot see past petty issues.

      Alan Turing, the father of modern computer, and the person credited for breaking the German Enigma code, which led to the allies ending the war years earlier than estimated, was tormented by the authorities after the war, whose brilliance was covered up and his name sullied till he committed suicide. It was only after a royal pardon and the declassification of his files a few years ago, that the world knew about his contribution.

      Lastly, Tony, you’re a bigot – go search for the meanin of this big word, your homework for the day.

      • Actually, by forcing Tony to recognize you and give legitimacy, you are doing exact the same thing as the straight who force you to denounce being a gay. See the point here. WHy don’t you live your life hapilly and leave other alone like what you want from other ?

    • Hey tony. You seem to be a very self absorbed and misguided individual. From your responses it seems that I probably am not going to be able to reason with you but I am going to try my very best. People like you perpetuate this disgusting behaviour in Singapore. The disgusting behaviour that does not allow us to see things beyond our self absorbed selves or accept anything that falls beyond the confines of our myopia. This is not an issue of whether homosexuality is right or wrong. I am all supportive of homosexuality and you definitely have your right to be against it. The issue here is that we are not allowing our children to have their own opinions. Opinions by definition have no inherent value. What we are teaching this girl is that she shouldnt think for herself. That she should Ilignore the influnces her upbringing has on her. Getting and F for having an opinion that does not fit with hegemonic beliefs is the very essence of Singapore’s failure today. We need to learn to seperate subjective opinion from objective fact. Lesbians are not “unnatural deviant and abnormal”. You THINK they are “unnatural deviant and abnormal”. Lesbians are not an “inspiration”. This little girl THINKS that they are an inspiration. Everyone creates opinions about different issues based on their socialisatiom growing up. And we should be able to own. See that. See that we have different viewpoints and that its okay. We see it with Amos Yee. People barging on a teenage boy for having an opinion. Yes i dont agree with him. But thats what I THINK. Live and let live people. Or else we are just going to end up killing each other. Especially our kids.

    • Run along now tony and let the adults talk. You can go back to you little bigoted corner and give yourself a pat in the back.

  7. I agree that this is probably more due to the teacher than anything else, although I do not deny the Netherlands is probably the more liberal of the two countries. In particular, I am pretty sure I would have gotten the same (Singapore) response in my Dutch primary school (ten years ago), where it was normal to give kids detention for little reason, and where I got the response “you know why” on a regular basis for things that were perfectly acceptable yet did not fit the school’s conservative moral. Not all Dutch schools and teachers are as liberal as the one described. An openly gay teacher would never have been hired at my primary school in the first place.

    • It’s true that the school that my niece in Netherlands is attending, is one of the more liberal ones. But I still feel it is quite fair to compare even without discussing the finer points of each schools.

      Also in late 2013 an openly gay teacher were fired from a christian conservative school in Netherlands, but then won a lawsuit against the school because they terminated him due to his sexuality.

  8. I wouldn’t generalise a single teacher’s comment to the entire education in Singapore. Nevertheless, the teacher’s lack of professionalism cannot be tolerated in a country which separates formal education and religion. I hope this case is reported and more updates can be made here.

  9. Jane, thank you for sharing. I admire your very calm, composed and mature responses to Tony.

    Do take time to share the essay. I am not saying the teacher should lose her job ‘cos she must have earned her qualifications to be an educator, but she does need counselling. It is unbecoming of a teacher to write like that, imposing her own personal beliefs rudely and squarely on impressionable children.

  10. Pingback: The Internet zombie horde is here | My So-called Lesbian Life

  11. Hey someone posted this on Facebook, and I thought I should add a comment too because I think one example does not an education system make and I also fear the attraction of being too assertive in putting down others.

    First, I think parents need to play a role in speaking up for their kid too, especially if they are being treated unfairly. This topic is a gray area all across the world, not just in Singapore, but everywhere. I believe that the teacher’s response was unreasonable and not part of education, most likely a personal belief, and should be reviewed accordingly by a supervisor. It would be interesting to see how the HoD or Principal views this, and from there if necessary, it can be debated at a national level at the Ministry. I think parents need to help them realize this, else the school may not realize that what they are doing is unacceptable.

    Second, I think in the spirit of harmony in terms of beliefs, we need to be cognizant of differences in beliefs. Some people belief that its alright. Others believe that its a blasphemy. We should not impose our beliefs on others, even if we think that they are wrong, but I do agree that we should insist on teachers playing a role and having the emotional intelligence to work with children in order to cultivate young minds not in what to think (leave that for your religious teacher), but in how to think (essay content, grammar etc…).

    I would be surprised with the HoD or principal have the same opinion as the teacher. Teachers are human beings too, they have their beliefs, they work hard, and they make mistakes. I hope that there is a win-win conclusion here for everybody, the teacher included. I don’t think putting the teacher down because of one mistake helps everyone in the long run. Just like how we expect the teacher to have the emotional intelligence to nurture children, I think we should also see this as an opportunity for parents to make the teaching environment more healthy rather than trying to destroy the teacher’s self-esteem. An eye for eye makes the world go blind. I have 2 kids by the way. A habit of putting down people once formed, goes back to the home as well. I regret my actions in the past, and I hope that sharing this would help others too.

  12. It’s f’d up for sure.

    The problem is, it’s essentially illegal in Singapore to be gay so the teacher probably had no choice. It would be like a kid in the US writing a story about an inspirational drug dealer.

    • It is not “illegal” to be gay in Singapore. As of now, only “grossly indecency” is criminalised between men. You have to act out some form of indecency (sex or whatever exactly is) before you can be prosecuted. Claiming you are gay is not a crime. Social stigma on the other hand, is another issue.

  13. It’s really hard for me to buy this story. It sounds like a fantasy.

    If it’s a true story, any sensible people will settle this case privately. Explain to this child and asks her to rewrite an essay, as simple as that. From what you wrote, the teacher sounds very emotional, impatient and hates gay.

    Anyway, I am not an anti-les person. All the best to you. =)

  14. Seriously, I am amused by the teacher and some of the negative comments over here…
    The kid is inspired by her aunt who by the way happens to be a lesbian; it’s HER who inspired the kid, not being a lesbian inspired her… Think the teacher herself/himself is the one with one twisted mind…
    Inspiration is not about sex orientation but about the person’s attitude towards everything in life and people… Obviously, this teacher is totally disrespect towards human rights… She/he could have explained to the little girl why not norm to her might be norm to other society but by brushing her off by one sentence “you know why” is just simply NOT good enough and unfair for the little girl to be punished with detention…
    Like some experts been interviewed recently, if Singapore wants to improve or continue our good runs in our economy society, we should be more diverse in acceptance of all matters… And also this is a way to show respect to all human beings…

  15. As others have said, let’s not be too quick to tar the entire system with the same brush. Singapore’s educational system has plenty of flaws, but I’m not sure that bigotry, at least on an officially sanctioned scale, is one of them. The issue here is the individual response of ONE teacher – I know enough teachers to know that not all would have reacted that way, regardless of their personal views. And this post ultimately is really about what it means to be a teacher. As an educator, there are ways of imparting values and what you think is right without denigrating those of others. It’s just the nature of the beast that if you believe that being gay is wrong/unnatural, that puts you in opposition with people in the other camp – and vice versa. A good teacher helps the student see different perspectives, and lets them decide for themselves the position to take. I’m not sure, without having seen the essays, whether in purely objective terms, each deserved the A or F they got – but it is not improbable that one essay got an A because it was preaching to the choir and the other because, well, it wasn’t.

  16. So the niece wanted to get A for a piece of work that she basically plagiarised off her cousin in Netherlands? Notice that they skyped and the niece in Netherland told the one in Singapore about what she wrote and when the opportunity arises she basically copy and pasted the whole thing.

    Perhaps a side to side comparison of the essays will give a better idea on whether the girl deserves the F.

    Although the teacher was really crude and wrong in her reasoning to give an F. Copying someone else’s work don’t deserve an A either.

    • You do know that students in Netherlands usually do their homework in Dutch right? Just a tiny hint….. In Singapore we usually tend to hand in our assignents in English or Chinese…

      So a simple copy / paste would be impossible and out of the question too. Just imagine the amount of work you would need to do to copy an essay written in another language? It would be much faster and quicker to write your own essay in your own words instead of translating a text.

      What would you get out of doing a side by side comparison of a Dutch and an English essay? Compare handwriting skills??

      Yes one of them got inspired by the other to write about that amazing and stunningly gorgeous aunt that they both share, but if that leads you to immediately believe that she copied the text, then you need to deal with your own fear of failing in life.

      • I don’t want pass judegement until I have seen the evidence. But then again its your blog so you can write whatever you want but not everyone has to agree. No one is aasking for identity just the essays to see whether the content is really good and an A should be given.
        Everything is so one sided and its your word against theirs.

        The school sided with the teacher, there’s something else here we probably don’t know. Teachers in Singapore are normally quite repectful towards parents abd children. We don’t give detention for F and things like this.

        Plagiarism is a big issue in my field of work. You have to giv credit even for a simple question which is why I asked did she copied ideas from her cousin?

  17. Lot of hate here. Not enough reason, And by that I mean hate on both sides of the camp.

    I have no issues with a girl who writes about how her gay aunt inspired her. I do wish to see the essay though. Without a better understanding of the content and merely relying on one side of the story, it undermines the LGBT camp’s attempts at being convincing, No need to post name of said girl or your Nric or whatever personal information but if the essay is at least shown, it will serve to convince more people of the “wrongness” of the system

  18. Oh, bless your niece. I hope it’s not traumatising for her. It’s awful that her work isn’t recognised and appreciated. Kids should be encouraged to share the joy and love around. Hopefully, having such an experience wouldn’t prevent your niece from expressing herself. Shame on the teacher who can’t separate her personal views and work. Leaving her personal opinions aside, she should have followed the marking scheme and graded accordingly.

  19. What a coincidence! Two similar topics in two separate schools in two different countries. Something fishy is going on here … a disgruntled lesbian?

    • I remember having to write essays about family members or people who are inspirational multiple times. Even did so in uni. I believe it is one of the most used subjects by teachers – worldwide!

      It’s scary that teachers actually over time ask students to write about similar subjects in different languages and in different countries.

      Yes you just uncovered an conspiracy and yes, I am already practicing on my evil laughter.

      Tell you a secret. My nieces didn’t write them on the same day. They wrote them several months apart from each other.

      Do remember your silver hat before you leave your home.

  20. I feel that the teacher is wrong. Even if one is inspired by a porn star or a racist, it is still an acceptable view for the purpose of an essay. The moral issue is not relevant, because the young writer is not writing about a role model for the rest of the school.

  21. This is disappointing. Kudos to your niece; there’s an important life lesson here for her – Life is not always fair, adults do not always know best, and it is therefore important that she learns to stand-up for her belief (in a respectful way), and on behalf of others who cannot defend for themselves. I am certain that you and her parents will reinforce this lesson with her. As for the teacher, I have to say, I don’t even think Singapore was as blatantly homophobic as her when I grew up. While it wasn’t a topic that was discussed, nevertheless, I am pretty certain that the individuals would have been treated with courtesy (probably “talked about’ behind their backs as some juicy stories) in front of them; and papers as such would have been graded as they are – for their language, grammar, coherence, spellings, etc.

    On another note, grades in Singapore really do not mean anything elsewhere in the world. There’s a better way to grow up than the pressure cooker system we have back home. Hopefully, she can learn that getting “straight As” really do not mean anything outside of the country.

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