I was not able to meet my students for tuition last week and a stand-in tutor was assigned to them. I was very surprised at the comment she left, describing one of them as studious but quiet. With me, he has a short attention span and he was not very interested in his studies, constantly joking and trying to get out of doing work. Perhaps assigning an older female has a positive effect on twelve year old boys? Or could it be that something happened after his PSLE and he became a more serious student? Judging from his response after I explained a working three times, his lack of interest could be due to an inability to grasp some topics by himself. I hope that tuition will help him if the explanation sticks with him.
My other two student come much more regularly than him and I’m constantly surprised at how they seem to have gotten bigger physically. One of them is getting into the habit of using the seven letter hokkien expletive that all locals are familiar with, but he seem a little ahead of his time. He is a smart one, and hopefully will realise that there are more creative ways to express displeasure than using a crude and offensive slang.
The disturbing part is how some of them are willing to splurge on expensive lifestyle items even though they are in the “less well-off” neighbourhood. I guess these kids are better off than some of their neighbours. Going by their lifestyle products, they might even be better off than me! One has a Sony Ericsson 800i (I think) and is sending SMS the whole night out of a prepaid card which has no free SMS in a monthly quota, but will cost a few cents per message. He probably spends more than a dollar a day if he sustains his rate of messaging and makes a few calls a day. That is much much more than what we used to spend when I was his age. Another spent over $300 over the December holidays on the local MMORPG MapleStory. Considering how my WoW account cost USD$15 (SGD$25) a month, I take a year to spend that much money!
Kids who grow up with too much money to spend may find themselves with a problem if they are not able to earn enough to sustain this kind of lifestyle. It is disturbingly easy to earn money from students. Children are impressionable and susceptible to the suggestion to spend. If I were a businessman, this is one market segment I will be targetting mercilessly.