Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cultural Differences – Does It Come Down To Your Haircut?

Now this is very interesting indeed (at least to me). I am not one to want to usually draw comparisons between cultures, and anybody that knows me, knows that I love to embrace any differences not as challenges, but as opportunities to expand my own horizons and live life around me to the fullest.

Therefore, I am not going to preach what I think is right or wrong in this article.

This doesn’t mean that I am not sometimes surprised by how some of the smallest differences can sometimes appear to be the most impactful. Moreover, sometimes what might perceived as cultural differences, may just be a reflection of the speed in which things change in different countries.

I have mentioned before about some of the things that I’ve noticed over the years, such as when most ‘westerners’ brush their teeth in the morning (after breakfast) as compared to most (mainland) Chinese and many other Asian countries (before breakfast)… the preferred time of day for a shower or bath, the removal of shoes at the front door of most Asian homes… the list goes on.

What I don’t often touch on (and not really brave enough to, I guess), are some of the cultural nuances that lead to, and are driven by, rules or Government regulations.

One such example, is an article recently in a local Singapore newspaper, the image of which I placed on my Facebook timeline, and also shared with a few people by email... (Click on the image below to view and read the article)

The essence of the story, is that a young student getting ready to sit for an exam in Singapore, had his hair cut by his teacher. According to the teacher, he had been warned on previous occasions that his hair style was unacceptable under the particular school’s rules and policies.

The immediate response I had from most Aussies to whom I emailed the article, was complete shock and horror that a teacher would do such a thing. I even had one person (who works in the Australian education system) tell me that such an action would most likely result in dismissal of the teacher concerned had it occurred down under… it would be seen as a form of abuse.

The reaction I had from my Singaporean and Malay friends was quite the opposite – school rules need to be followed and obeyed… The teacher was in her complete rights to enforce this by cutting the child’s hair.

The mother of the child in question had lodged a complaint with the school, the police and the MOE. On Facebook, some of the feedback was that the parent was out of line contacting authorities or escalating this... rules are rules!

Like I outlined above, I am not going to state my opinion of what is right and wrong here – as an outsider trying to integrate into Singapore, it is certainly not my place to do so (but when you see some of the hair styles that kids in Australia and the US wear to school, if I were their teacher, I also might be tempted to take to their bangs with a pair of hairdressing scissors).

Anyway – I found it interesting – what is considered taboo in one country, is considered completely normal in another. Even for something as simple as a haircut.

On a side note – the mother says that she paid $60 for her son’s haircut just five days before the incident, and then another $60 to fix it again after the teacher’s impromptu styling… $60 for a child’s haircut in Singapore?? – she was definitely ripped off, I feel. :)


Anonymous said...

I agree with that bit about it being an abuse. In fact, the teacher IMO had actually laid her hands on the student by forcibly cutting his hair.

If she had not made an attempt to speak with the parents before her act, she is at fault. She could have warned both the student and parents of the possibility of their recalcitrant son being suspended from school. That IMO would have done the trick, knowing how kiasu parents are about their children missing out on an important exam!

Anonymous said...

""The reaction I had from my Singaporean and Malay friends was quite the opposite"" - your words.
Dont quite understand this. Why the seperation?
You trying to say something?
and btw REAL aussie national anthem should be this-

Anonymous said...

F**k MOE and this whole bloody draconian Asian crack the whip, toe the line mentality

Is it a wonder that we are just bloody robots, incapable of thinking outside the box.

Some teachers really do enjoy being imperious and nasty.

Perhaps this can be enlightening


"how can eat your pudding if you dont have your meat"

Anonymous said...

Tom Selleck and this guy acted as brothers on the Sacketts.

He's probably the best Moustchio ever



Anonymous said...

Music For Movember

Boston. Just look at them handles man!



Anonymous said...

Hey Pete hows about a comment/post on this


Anonymous said...

Hey Pete

1) About that phone being used as adult toy- I think its occured to some of us that it could happen. How's it down? Just another line to call thyself ( in her case its herself)

2) About that toilet -one- almost happened to me sometime back. But it hit the side and bounced back right back into my hand- talk of lucky toilet breaks


Anonymous said...

hey Pete
You might find this site interesting



Anonymous said...

Hey Pete

This article should bring much good cheer to the Aussies