A message to parents with schoolchildren, from a student.

By kloimo

For context, I'm a 16 year old student who has just completed my 'O' Levels. I decided to spend my holiday working to earn a bit of extra pocket money.

The job is simple, we had to help sell items for different schools. Having done a short stint as a sales girl last year, this was no big deal for me and I could cope with things rather well.

I have always been studying in "名校" (or what some would consider as brand name schools) since P1, and majority of parents I was acquainted with in those schools were amiable, pleasant people, so I used to refute the stereotype that parents from more elite schools were arrogant.

My view changed within less than a week of work. I hate to admit it, but yes the difficult parents are mostly those whose children hail from such "good schools".

On my first day at work, I encountered a nasty parent who openly told her son "You have to wait, she's not smart you know." - simply because I had to confirm (with full time workers at the counter) that the sample size I supplied them was correct .

Although I had been briefed, I just wanted to ensure that I provided accurate information and discharged my responsibilities properly. It doesn't mean that I'm stupid or dumb. (Besides, if I did end up making a serious mistake because I didn't bothered to clarify my doubts, wouldn't I be in even greater trouble?)

For example, let's say Happyland is a really well known school. There's Happyland Primary, Happyland Girls School, Happyland High School and Happyland JC. The parents of Happyland have the tendency to go into the store and proudly declare their children study at "Happyland". When I asked which Happyland School in particular they were referring to, they would instantly look offended as if to say "Don't you know Happyland?"

The usual condescending tone was expected, but the attitudes they presented were largely rather unnecessary. I'm a salesgirl and my job is to assist you. It won't hurt to give me more details about your child's school so that I can serve you better.

Some parents would brag about their children to others whom they know have kids studying at neighbourhood secondary schools, instantly changing their tone and attitude the moment they come into contact with anyone whose child is attending the same school as theirs.

C'mon, they're just here to buy items for the new school year, not start a whole conversation about how your child is better simply because his/her PSLE T score was 270+ !

These snobbish parents subsequently treated me much nicer once they discovered I've already accepted an offer from a "good" JC.

Are they therefore implying that they are being nice to me only because I'm going to a "better" school than their child?

Your child's academic background doesn't make you any better than others.

Over the last 5 days, I realized that many of the parents who were nice to me acted so because they know I'm at the same level as their children and would like them to be treated with respect as well.

It is a common assumption that salesgirls possess low levels of education and yes while it isn't the noblest of job titles, that doesn't mean they are subhuman trash. (this by the way also applies to a spectrum of other occupations including waiters, cleaners, butlers etc)

Perhaps after reading the above, you may conclude I'm spoilt and can't take being treated rudely because I'm part of the "strawberry generation", that I am just being easily offended and triggered by the slightest of things.

Then again, this post isn't about me. Its about empathizing with them full time working "aunties" who have to deal with these elitists (on a daily basis) who reckon they're superior to others simply because of the schools their children attend. Well newsflash: you aren't.

I'm not trying to say "all schools are equal" and I understand that elite schools exist to allow for specific groups of students of higher academic ability to come together and learn at a similar pace.

I just wish more people would treat others with basic respect, honestly there's no need to "politicize" your child's educational background.

So dear parents, please teach your children to be decent human beings, and do it by setting a healthy example.


"If you don’t study hard, you will become a ______________ when you grow up"

Education = Stratification of Labeling?

I will never send my kid to a neighbourhood school