Friday, April 26, 2013

Malaysian School Drama: Where Art Shouldn't Imitate Life

Recently my kids participated in the district level drama competition.

Like every other school, they worked their asses off, encountered actual asses along the way, and in the end, they made it to the moment when they took that final bow on stage.

And they were flawless.  I know I'm not being biased because the other schools thought so too.

But to our dismay, they didn't even get a place.

The problem?

Our issue was air-quote "inappropriate" for secondary school students.

The plot goes like this. Girl gets pregnant. Boy is irresponsible.  Girl soon feels stigmatised by society.  Girl does abortion.  Girl went cray.  The message? Don't go murdering babies or else you'll start hearing voices.

BUT apparently, no matter how clear our stand and message for students in this drama are, the real life concern on teen abortion is still "unsuitable".

The question of gender inequality and social stigma is pretty much too heavy for secondary schools students' level of thought to take in. (in which my students with low proficiency understood perfectly)

Apparently, a drama on abortion and the fact that a wife can raise her voice against her husband after hitting their daughter doesn't reflect good moral values.  Never mind the fact that the drama stressed on the dangers of abortion and to never take a life.

Apparently, happy endings, unrealistic situation and traditional gender roles are preferred. Not a drama that reflects the nasty reality of life.

It upsets me that my kids who delivered a perfect performance didn't win, but it upsets me more to see how our education system is screwing our kids.  As if they are not screwed badly already.

This does not only happen to me.  This is not a rant about losing.  There are other teachers I know who highlighted issues like teen drug abuse and prostitution in their drama.  But of course, no matter how good it was, it was downright rejected for being "inappropriate".  Why?  These are not primary school students whom we still have to protect their innocence.  Is teen prostitution really a shocking thing these days?  Are adults the only ones doing drugs and having unprotected sex?  Why do we still need to shelter our kids from things that they could potentially fall into during their darkest hour of life?  A drana performance is one medium we can use to educate our kids, but looks the objective is lost when there is still narrow-mindedness.

We are telling our kids that life is a fairy tale.  We are telling them to avoid talking about real life issues, its impact on life and how to face it.   And since simple, dumb story lines are preferred compared to thought-provoking ones, we are telling them to screw thinking creatively and critically.

Again, the things that we were taught to teach our kids can be just flushed down the toilet, because this system isn't prepared to produce world-class thinkers.

So fine.  For next year's competition, our drama will about the Turtle and the Hare, except they're zombies.  And they become bestfriends in the end after realising trying to eat each others brain is wrong.  AND THEY LIVE HAPPILY EVER FUCKING AFTER.


Joan said...

punya bida tu..conservative betul. everything that is bad is such a taboo and we should event talk about it. Macam style dunia harry potter yang nda boleh sebut nama you-know-who

god bless our education system -_-

anyway, congrats for doing a good job for your drama team

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Joan: Itu la tu. It's already 2013, masih lagi berfikiran cam tu. Thanks :)

Asrih Arif said...

at least we know that somewhere in Malaysia there's still hope... when I say hope I mean U and ur kiddos not those rotten minded arse.. forgive my french..

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Asrih: Haha. I hope someday I can chief judge and call the shots.

Anonymous said...

God bless you teacher! I think our education system is really screwed up. How can it be labelled as inappropriate when you were actually exposing the truth about what is really happening, right? Why did they even held events like this if we're not allowed to use it to teach the younger generation about reality.. tsk..tsk.. what a waste of a good drama and time.

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Anon: I know right? If they weren't to accept this kind of social issue to be depicted in "children's drama", then they should have said so earlier. It's so sad we're still stuck in an backward society.