Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Educate. Not indoctrinate.



The weather was gorgeous today. Other than fields of flowers, it was everything spring is: cool, crisp air, bright sunshine, and endless, azure skies. I decided it would be such a waste to drive to Sports Basement in Sunnyvale. I swapped slicks on my bike and rode there instead.

As it was a short urban commute, all I needed was a pump, a patch kit, tire levers, a multi-tool, and 200 ml of water in my water bottle. This was a big difference compared to usual 3 liters of water in my Camelbak HAWG, another liter in the water bottle cage, and the plethora of items I usually carry on single-day trips and overnight epics. As a result, I was literally flying all the way to the store, making 5.6 miles (8.96 km) in just over 12 minutes. Not bad for a vintage hardtail mountain bike with slicks.

Maybe it's the news blurbs (and blog rants) about Jay Bennish that has been fomenting in my head, or maybe the mileage covered today under sunny skies approximated that of what I used to ride whilst commuting to my junior college in Singapore, but I suddenly recalled the trials I underwent resisting the principal's attempts to change me; to make me give up cycling to school; to "reform" me into what he deemed the proper image of a junior college student: spandex and jerseys, waist pouches, cleated shoes and panniers were out; long pants, shirts and regular shoes are in.

He was — and, to this present day, still is — the most rabid anti-cyclist I have had ever met. I wonder what made him that way? Did he experience a particularly traumatic accident with the bicycle as a kid? Perhaps slipping off the pedals on a turn and crunching one of his nuts on the top tube at age 7? Or perhaps he suffers from some sort of hereditary disorder, incapable of ever mastering the rudiments of an object in dynamic balance? Or maybe, as a kid, he got run over by a bicycle at the playground?

Be that as it may, his tactics in forcing his views on me were relentless, unreasonable, even unethical. First, he called my parents, raising the safety issues involved in cycling 6.25 miles (10 km) of public roads each way to school, every day. My dad basically told him that, having forked over SG$2000 for my mountain bike [Update 1/23/08: Dad showed me the receipt, SG$2263], he is not expecting me to restrict myself to the playground, park or neighborhood estate (by then, I had cycled as far as Kuantan and Penang, Malaysia, during the school holidays). That stumped him for a while.

Next, he told me it was against the rules to come into school in my cycling attire (even though I change into school uniform immediately after locking up my bike). Fine. I changed at the restroom of a nearby fast food outlet before entering school grounds. It took him a while to figure out that I wasn't cycling to school in my uniform.

Running out of ideas, he tells me that I cannot park my bicycle in school because its value poses a security risk. When I point to bicycles ridden by the gardener and some of the canteen staff, he made the exception that those were cheap bikes. Undaunted, I point to some of the cars driven by other students: a Mazda 323; a BMW 623i; a MG convertible, as well as motorcycles: some Suzukis, Hondas and a Ducati. Those are of a higher value and can be stolen too. If my bike goes, they should go too. He waddles back to the drawing board.

During this exchange, someone innocent became implicated: my literature and General Paper teacher. You see, he cycles to school too. Yikes. One day, he came in and ranted to the class that the principal banned him from cycling to school because it was a form of transport "unbecoming" of a teacher. From hence, he had to take the bus or a cab. Wow. I wonder how many nights the principal stayed awake to think that one up.

The most annoying straw came when the principal caught me on campus on a Saturday in my cycling attire (he is usually not present on Saturday). It didn't matter that there were students coming and going in street clothes. The mere sight of spandex and a non-motor-driven two-wheel vehicle shorted out his neurons. Yelling that I look ridiculous, he produced his camera (??? rather convenient, eh?), commanded me to stand still, and took several pictures of me. The following week, he circulated my devastatingly handsome mug shots during the staff meeting, commanding the teachers to take note if I show up in such outfits again, and if so, send me to detention.

How were my cycling outfits ridiculous? It was not as if my cycling shorts were red instead of black:




Whether such a reaction was due to some sort of repressed homoerotism or male inadequacy on his part is anybody's guess (and I am not going to dwell further into it. Ugh!).

Thankfully, by this time, I had only a couple of weeks to go before the end of the final semester.

From what I recently heard, it seems that he has been experiencing heart problems due to his sedentary lifestyle. When you can't even reach your toes because your protruding gut holds the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez, you are in no position to advise others as to the type of (active) lifestyle they should adopt.

If I allowed my spirit to be crushed by his draconian antics, and be reformed transformed / brainwashed / indoctrinated by this bozo, I would never have the kind of fun and adventure I had, nor the modicum of fitness I have.


1992, Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia. Elevation 7641 ft (2329 m).




2006, Mount Diablo, North California, USA. Elevation 3849 ft (1173 m).


I still get carded regularly (for 18, NOT 21, mind you).
: -)

Sometimes, being pig-headed and resistant to change are not necessarily bad traits. Undergoing the process of education does not mean being reprogrammed into a clone or a drone.

Educators should nurture, not prune.
I'm not your fucking bonsai tree.

Speaking of education, here is a quote from Professor Pradyumna S. Chauhan, of Arcadia University, (and, indirectly, one of my favorite authors, Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul):


[T]he consolations of history, thus, turns out to be especially satisfying to the dispossessed of the earth, for time, as Naipaul repeatedly reminds us [. . .] humbles those who once humbled others.


Hence, my indulgence in a little schadenfreude today:

Enjoy your warfarin, Sir. I am certainly enjoying my 8% body fat percentage. [Update 4/10/06: 7% now]

Happy trails!

7 Comments:

Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

Thanks for sharing those memories. Certainly put a smile on my face. You see, I have a somewhat similar story.

Except mine involved a posh swanky "elite" junior college where I was riding in on an extremely beng GSXR400.


Sometimes, being pig-headed and resistant to change are not necessarily bad traits. Undergoing the process of education does not mean being reprogrammed into a clone or a drone.

My formal education experiences were not a happy time for me. Indoctrination rather than education seemed to be the norm. (Or maybe it was just my teenage hormones going off!)

I did not escape being pruned but I count myself fortunate to escape being mangled too badly.

10:30 PM  
Blogger zeenie said...

You showed him! Strangely enough, my alleged 'rebellious behavior' only happened also in junior college. It was an academic issue which spilled over to everything else. My home tutor (kinda like a form teacher) said that i shouldn't take 4 A levels and that i should drop one, which i did not see why since i was coping well enough, thank you very much. So he started picking on my hairstyle, the colour of my shoes (how do you define 'predominantly white'?) and even the friends i make, telling them that i was bad company. Thankfully my classmates had better sense. LOL

5:48 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...

I wish I could recount such rebellion. I've always been a good boy.

Stop smirking. STOP SMIRKING!! IT'S NOT FUNNY!!!!

-ahem-

Seriously though, I think my questionable activities mostly went under the radar. Except the times I got hauled up for Satan Worship cos I played DnD.

I just became more stealthy after that.

12:09 PM  
Blogger -ben said...

Knight,

You rode a 400cc bike back then? Nice! Props for the courage you must have had riding a motorcycle on Singapore roads. You must have survived the Rubicon countless times.


Zeenie,

Woah! That's scary. Doesn't that sort of behavior (i.e. your tutor's) belong more to the realm of the "pissed-off girlfriend" domain?
:D


Anthony,

Aha! I knew it! Now I know our connection! Nice to meet a fellow AD&D fan!

I remember watching Lord of the Rings with another AD&D player: when we got to the fight scene of Frodo and Aragorn versus the Ring Wraiths on a hilltop, I quipped, "I wonder how my AD&D party would fair against those Ring Wraiths."

SHE: Dude, they will so kick your ass. They are at least level 40, if not level 42.

ME: Umm, one of my mages is level 89 and that's the lowest level of my party. Ever seen a Chain Lightning spell from a level 89 mage?

SHE: !!! Well... in that case...

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey great post! (came via tomorrow.sg)

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cycled to ACJC in '84-'85 and even rode a motorbike and never had any problems.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous spec78 said...

Sometimes, being pig-headed and resistant to change are not necessarily bad traits. Undergoing the process of education does not mean being reprogrammed into a clone or a drone.

Educators should nurture, not prune.
I'm not your fucking bonsai tree.


Hmmm, maybe dats why pple like bill gates and steve jobs drop out.

The consolations of history, thus, turns out to be especially satisfying to the dispossessed of the earth, for time, as Naipaul repeatedly reminds us [. . .] humbles those who once humbled others.

how very true !!!!
For blunt un-intellectuals like me, I 'll put it plainly in 1 word.
R E T R I B U T I O N

6:07 AM  

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