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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Even though I am somewhat out of the loop, not having heard of this ruckus till today due to my being too busy running errands the previous day, I got a request from the VJC chapter of my fanclub, like so:

son of victoria] xxx: "oh can you ask him to do a post on gssq on this
a request from his most ardent fan =P
reading since his national slavery days"

And so, even if it is only one person strong, (since I still have no idea what to write for an article I'm supposed to submit): VS | United Against Co-ed [Ed: VS - Victoria School]

"The Argument

Mr. Ang posits that we need to bring in girls into the school because 1) girls will raise the academic standard of the school in and of itself (statistically, it is true that girls do better) and 2) bringing girls into the system is the given pre-requisite for IP (integrated program) to continue, or VJC will not accept partnership in IP with VS since it is deemed to be the ‘weaker partner’. This move is supported by Mrs. Chan, who does not support IP with VS, but in her capacity as secretary of the VAC, advocates that we bring in girls into VS anyway because she is concerned for our welfare. Mr. Ang also advocates IP as imperative to keep us sustainable...

We need to make it clear that we have a culture to preserve, that it may be intangible but not worth any less than the tangible aspects just because we cannot quantify them. We need to tell those who say they want to preserve and save the school to know that they save nothing if they rob us of identity. Without results we would be Siglap Link secondary; we’re agreed that that’s unacceptable. With results but as another anonymous mixed school, we are nothing."

Another centre of the insurrection: Victoria School

Funny, I thought that almost all guys would rather be in co-educational schools than not. When prefects in RI were trying to get elected in the sham elections we held, a common refrain was: "I can't merge RI and RGS. But I'll do my best to make RI a better place."

So far the only reason they seem to have raised for why Victoria School shouldn't go co-ed is that this goes against history and tradition. But culture is a living, fluid thing - if you cherish it so much that you try to freeze it in time, holding it to some reified ideal, you end up stultifying and killing it. Maybe this is the "if we couldn't have it, neither can you, so we must make you suffer like we did or we would feel aggrieved and betrayed" syndrome in action again. Besides which, they *did* admit girls to their Pre-University classes for 3 whole decades, just like other proto-Junior Colleges.

Take this rant for example: "We are special because we are different from the other schools.Academic factor is just a small factor in a student's development.We have seen Victorians all doing well.We do not need a bunch of Victorian-wannabes to spoil our good name.We are the true blood Victorians.We have kept the flag unfurled and it will always be flying up high.VS is VS because of our traditions and our boys.If erosion of our basic values is the best proposal they can offer, then perhaps there are better people for their positions. - Lee Jianwei. VS 1994-1997, VJC 1998-1999"

From the vehemence expressed, you'd think they were going to change the name of the school to "East Coast Secondary School" and make them all wear purple uniforms. What does going co-educational and admitting girls have to do with spoiling VS's "good name"? Or diluting their "true blood"? How will it bring their flag down? How is extending education to more poeple eroding "basic values"? I never knew single sex-education was a "basic value" - I always thought values were things like patience, dilligence, honesty and the like.

I also seem to sense an unquantifiable and unqualifiable undercurrent of misogyny in the following declamation: "Since we train our boys to be GentleMen, SportsMen and Professionals, a single-sex school provides a uniform mode of communication, transmission and presevation of values for a teenage boy growing up. A Sec 1 boy coming in is surrounded by older boys who should serve as a positive role-model for him and being in that fraternal community, he is constantly reinforced by the affirmation from his peers. In short, don't see Victoria as a school that for 129 years has only admitted boys, but as a school that has for 129 years till now, continually turned boys into men. Men of standard, calibre and character." Just how are the evil girls going to stop the maturation of fine young boys into fine young men? Maybe their giggling will drive the boys wild. Or maybe we should make them wear tudungs so the boys don't get distracted. If this is what a single-sex education does to you, maybe VS should go co-educational after all.

[Addendum: "For those who are not Victorian, i trust and hope you have seen this spirit within us, when we cheer, when we fight, when we sing! Will girls in Victoria be able to continue this spirit? because to be crudely honest, and i hope no one takes this the wrong way, but girls will NEVER be able to do what we did, to show what we displayed. Please do not get us wrong. We are not sexist, we are not opposed to change. However, when something like this comes along, and our 129 years of tradition and heritage are threatened, WE WILL NOT SIT BACK AND LET THIS HAPPEN." Erm. Right. 'Nuff said.]

The descent into arugments from semantics is also ludicrous. It seems some are taking heart from the lyrics of the school song: "Victoria thy sons are we" and are prefixing their MSN nicknames with "son of victoria". Evidently the concept of the neutering of the male pronoun through centuries of use (or of the difficulty of using politically correct, gender neutral language while sounding poetic and keeping meter) hasn't quite hit home.

[Addendum: It also strikes me that the same arguments could be used for maintaining racial or class segregation, perhaps even more effectively.]

That said, the reasons for turing VS co-ed don't seem particularly strong. They want to start an Integrated Program to attract top talent, yet it's not clear that this will succeed.

Currently, VS is in "Band 3: Average L1B5 = 12" (A Broader Picture of Schools' Performance in Academic and Non-Academic Domains (2004)). Given that there are 12 schools in the 2 bands above it, it's not clear that going Integrated will seduce parents into sending their children there; even if they ride on VJC's comparatively high(er) historical ranking, the 2 girls' and 1 co-educational school offering Integrated Programs have a more (much more, if memory serves) distinguished academic history and record.

Consider too that, in the words of a JC classmate of mine when I asked him what the rationale for single sex education was: "When guys reach puberty, they get horny." Extrapolating from past relative rankings of single sex and co-educational schools, going co-educational would more likely depress the school academically than not.

As a counterpoint, consider that the historical links between the Hwa Chong Institution The Chinese High School School and Nanyang Girls High aren't particularly formalised. The two were founded by different people, though both were supported by financial contributions from the same pool. It's more a shared communist history and interbreeding due to geographical proximity (and maybe the overhead bridge of love linking the two, but that's only in the last few years) that link the two. Perhaps VS should similarly find a all-girls school to adopt as a sibling school in a common quest to qualify for the Integrated Program. [Addendum: However, as someone points out, VS was founded to educate males from the Malay elite. Thus, it is unlikely that a girls' school with historical ties to it can be found for a team up.]

In any case, one of the 2 main reasons for starting an Integrated Program is to prevent brain drain and talented students defecting to non-affiliated JCs ("Research Studies"? Bollocks!). As far as I know (though I don't know very much, as far as this particular topic is concerned), this isn't a problem in the Victoria School-Victoria Junior College transition. So we are left with the other main reason - being able to boast about having an IP.

Nil sine cogito.


Some VJ girl: haha love your nick

[daughter of victoria] kimberly [Nil sine cogito]: hee hee
change yours too ;)

Some VJ girl: yee dont want
i dont want any association with it whatsoever

[daughter of victoria] kimberly [Nil sine cogito]: lol [you will] get stoned ah

Some VJ girl: hahah ya la
you can be my idol just by putting tt nick hahaha

v true lor today the vs guys were asking the RI guys how they would feel if they were to become coed
they were saying combine with rg damn cool wat
hahahaha then the vs ppl were like wth

my ri friend was like see we at RI would embrace you all but now we know who are the chauvanists around here..
bastard. i emphasize EMBRACE ha

Also seen: "I have enough to do with projects, PTs, EOIs, ELDS and Sec 2 life in general without being hit on by the half of the RI population that's non-gay.

It's true. Guys are distracting. Especially the unwanted flirts.

I think that girls are much nicer people, on a whole. Of yet I have probably only met three or four guys around my age who are non-gay, non-annoying and actually nice. The rest, eeeek."
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