Why Singapore? For The Kids
This is the second in a series of posts looking at the major reasons why I’m moving my family to Singapore and have taken a teaching job at the Singapore American School. You can read the first piece here. This second one looks at reasons related to my own children.
I’m pretty comfortable in feeling that I have done my level best for my kids. That’s not me congratulating myself unless you want to give me credit for competence in parenting. My kids live in a nice house, in a nice place. They attend one of the best public schools in the country, while I work in another. All of this has resulted in them having all of the various trimmings that come from being in a middle-class American family in one of the true enclaves of functional middle-class American. They have nice and good lives.
But now they are moving to Singapore.
To me, that’s a no-brainer. At least it was once our various “non-negotiable” questions about what life in Singapore would look like for us were answered by the new job. Without being impolite, it’s not an exaggeration to note that with this move, my children will have a standard of living that is equal-to-or-better-than the one that they now enjoy. They will do this while attending the school that I will teach in for free (you can look up the cost of tuition if you’re really interested), and enjoying all of the opportunities that the school will provide them. They will have cultural experiences that almost no other Americans get to experience, all before they become old enough to drive (not that they will be driving while we’re in Singapore—it is not a country that incentivizes such things). I don’t know exactly what this will do for them in terms of preparing them for the lives that follow their childhood, but I’m certain that it is going to be a significant benefit.
All the while coming as close as possible to eliminating the chance that they will die from American violence.
You might think this is a cheap shot, but I don’t think it’s undeserved when considering what it means to send children to American public schools at this point in time. Singapore is one of the cleanest, safest countries in the world. I’ll totally admit upfront that my American values related to freedom and individualism lead me to blanche a bit when I consider the totality of how these standards are maintained, but I have no problem with the notion that basically no one in Singapore ever has access to a gun unless they are supposed to. That’s not something that I can say about modern America, which scares me to no end in my role as a parent to two young children. To be clear, we are not moving to Singapore because of America’s propensity for violence, but American violence does nothing to keep us here.
The gun thing is only the most obvious part of how Singaporean culture “protects” my children. It also seems to be a place where one doesn’t encounter drugs or is generally exposed to the kinds of influences that might lead one to some of the less-desirable life paths. Again, this is all arranged via strictures that are very different from my way of thinking about these issues), and in ways that I might take issue with were I not a guest in a strange land. But one of the major lessons I’d like to think I’m taking with me is the understanding that my way of thinking about these things is not any better than any others by virtue of it being mine, or by it being a product of my cultural expectations. This journey is nothing if not a broadening of my cultural horizons. If I don’t strive to have the same sort of learning experiences that I’m hoping to bring to my children while overseas, then I’m not exactly sure what the point of the journey would be. If comfort and unchallenged perspectives were the goals, I’d stay home.
The lives of my children will be better for our leaving. How could they not be? And if we agree on that point, then how could we not leave?
What do you think? Is this one an ode to virtue? A sap to delusion? Drop me a line or leave a comment if you have something to say.
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