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Are we raising a Strawberry generation in Singapore?

6 years ago / personal

Some thoughts on the recent ACS (Barker) carnival tickets incident.

On Friday night, a friend pasted a link to to a letter written by the principal of ACS (Barker) to parents regarding their upcoming fundraising carnival. I took a quick glance and proceeded with the rest of my weekend without much thought about it. (Usual school donation drive thing, right?)

Then over the next 48 hours, I saw more info about it circulating on Facebook - how it all started because a parent "couldn't sleep" because of the said letter (she felt forced/pressured to donate) and proceeded to send the letter to Stomp. The Straits Times then covered the story here and you can read the letter in all its entirety here.


I read the letter again (this time round, more thoroughly) and two particular lines struck me:

"It is less of an issue of “rich” friends or relatives, but their willingness to step-out of their comfort zone."

"My concern is that this lack of drive becomes a habit in him that will not do him any good."

You see, I attended a convent school during my primary school years and every year I too, was issued these "donation tickets" to sell.

I can't (and won't) speak for ACS but during my schooling years, I was never "forced" to sell ALL the booklets.

But I did anyway.

No, I did not come from a super well-to-do family where my Dad simply writes a cheque for all the tickets. He made the seven year-old me approach my relatives and family friends over Chinese New Year asking them if they could help.

When I was 9, I was going door-to-door around my neighbourhood, knocking on doors of random strangers and trying to sell these tickets.

It was ME who wanted to make sure I sold everything and so did many of my peers - oh, that feeling when we returned to school after the holidays with empty booklets and a huge sense of accomplishment.

Was I scared when I knocked on the doors? Was I paiseh to approach strangers for money? Of course. But after the 6th or 7th rejection, I had perfected my "sales pitch" and that drive and confidence stayed on with me till today (especially when I have to pitch something major at important meetings.)

When I read all the comments on Facebook and Stomp which varied from agreement to severe criticism, what struck me most is how protective some of these parents can get.

(One old ACS boy even said that the SOLE reason he didn't send his son back to his alma mater was because he didn't want his son to sell donation tickets :flushed:)

Which got me thinking...

Are we raising a generation of Strawberries?


Strawberry generation (Chinese: 草莓族 or 草莓世代) is a Chinese language neologism for Taiwanese people born between 1981 and 1991 who "bruise easily" like strawberries – meaning they can not withstand social pressure or work hard like their parents' generation; the term refers to people who are insubordinate, spoiled, selfish, arrogant, and sluggish in work.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Here we are, losing sleep because your kid "was so stressed he wanted to buy the tickets using his own savings."

What next?

In a few years, are you going to send another letter in to Stomp because he is "so stressed" about NS?

When he starts working and has to approach clients, are you going to tell his boss you're losing sleep because he can't deal with rejection?

Then, when does it end?

Perhaps, instead of taking it to a hate-filled "citizen journalism" website (what message are we sending our children?)... a more appropriate action to take when our children face these setbacks would be to encourage them and even nudge them a little to get out of their comfort zones.

Get them to toughen up and thicken their skin - today carnival tickets, tomorrow Life.

Acquaint them with some hard knocks when they're young and equip them with life skills so eventually, they can stand on their two feet and make it out on their own.

Of course I'm not asking you to throw your child out on the streets penniless in the name of independence, but really, it's just carnival tickets. Won't die one lah.