Over the past week, amidst all the articles and opinions on Lee Kuan Yew and how Singapore would be without him, two related stories stood out for me. One was that of the infamous Amos Yee and second was that off Lee Yi Peng, our Prime Minister’s eldest son.
1) Online speculations suggested Amos Yee has Asperger’s syndrome. Netizens have dug out a blog post that Amos wrote on his journey in Zhonghua Secondary School (maybe from 2011 to 2014) http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/eat-drink-man-woman-16/%5Bwot%5D-amos-yee%92s-exciting-adventure-zhonghua-secondary-school-5010254.html In his conclusion, he wrote “these 4 years of experience in school, at least in my opinion, ****ing sucked.”
2) For some reason, in my newsfeed, an old article surfaced. At the 100th year anniversary of Zhonghua Secondary School back in 2011, PM Lee had expressed his deep gratitude to the school for taking in his eldest son when so many others refused to do so http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest+News/Edvantage/Story/A1Story20110910-298824.html Yi Peng has Asperger’s syndrome, is an albino and is half-blind. He was enrolled from 1997 to 2000.
Regardless of my opinion on Amos and Yi Peng and how different these two persons with Asperger’s are, one thing that strikes me was that Zhonghua Sec was mentioned. At the end of the day, the Principals and the teachers took in these students and managed their extreme characters. The school did not throw them out. Perhaps there has been disagreements, conflicts, tensions. But fact is, Amos and Yi Peng graduated from Zhonghua, and in that, I saw patience and tolerance in their teachers. So thank you Zhonghua Sec teachers, and teachers elsewhere who face similar situations.
Additionally, the school has these Chinese characters; Courteous, Righteous, Edified and Dignified written on their wall. I thought of the word “edify”and the idea of improving someone’s character by teaching. I saw how it works both ways, that when you improve someone’s character, you improve yours too. By virtue of this idea of edification, I saw the importance of school, of teachers, of people who can continue making us a better person. And that I think, is what we, Singapore, needs more now- a community of caring teachers and learners. We can only grow as a country, if we move forward as a community.