Cause and Consequence

Slim Potato

This post is as much for the JC2s as it is for the JC1s, which is to say we are reviewing a JC2 Prelim question and preparing the JC1s for the upcoming Promos. The JC1s have spent many a lecture (and tutorial) going through expository cause-and-consequence questions, starting from our review of the MYE question on Martha as a ‘victim of her own expectations’ and concluding with a practice question on ‘a sense of fulfilment or lack of it affecting an individual’s identity.’ For both cohorts, we will elaborate once more on the question requirements and how to approach the question below.

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Why Compare?

In the now-iconic ‘2 mothers in a hdb playground’, Arthur Yap gives us these quintessentially Singaporean lines from two mothers comparing their children, ah beng and kim cheong (italics mine):

ah beng is so smart,
already he can watch tv and know the whole story
your kim cheong is also quite smart,
what boy is he in the exam? […]

kim cheong eats so little.
give him some complan. my ah beng was like that,
now he’s different, if you give him anything
he’s sure to finish it all up.

We compare people, places, things all the time in real life. We might even argue, Bloom’s Taxonomy be d**ned, that comparison is a cognitive skill on its own: our understanding of the world around us, particularly unfamiliar terrain, is shaped by what we already know, or what we are well acquainted with. When we travel to foreign lands, our observations are often filtered through a Singaporean lens, where “Oh, it’s so messy here” or “They are really laidback here” is always already a reflection of our own experience back home. Like in Yap’s “2 mothers”, comparison can be used to confirm our own understanding of our context (i.e. Singapore) and affirm ourselves (i.e. my son is better than your son). The same would surely apply to the Sony/Microsoft, DC/Marvel, Samsung/Apple fanboy wars.

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