Being 1st or Being Fair?
“You created this?” I asked my son looking at him playing with some new figures in Roblox screen.
“This looks new and kind of cool. Why don’t you share with others what you’ve done, on your page? Write what you did and how”.
“No, I don’t want”.
“Why? It’s ok to share what you’ve done. Other people might be interested in it”.
“You know mum, I was not the only one. We did it in a team. I was part of the team. The three of us. I have to ask them too”.
This short exchange sent me on a thinking trip. It seemed that the stage of being “number one” obsession of a preschooler was gone, and I didn’t really notice when it happened. My son showed me that he had a good command of team work ethics, fair play and thoughtfulness. Despite the competitive nature of Singapore educational system, the upcoming high stake tests and generally a very competitive pace of living in the island-city, our school truly managed to do something right – instill the values of fairness and kindness in my child – something which I as a parent have also been constantly working on.
I asked a few more questions because I got curious about their common Roblox game project. My son told me that he and two of his classmates used an easy and accessible option inbuilt in Roblox portal to create their own variety of game. Each of them contributed according to the skills they were best at: one was good and drawing and creative art, the other one had some basic coding skills and the third one contributed with general ideas.
I thought about the whole episode for a moment. All of the boys have very different backgrounds – one is a Chinese Singaporean, one is from a neighboring Asian country and one is of Indian-European descent. They come from different cultural, language and family backgrounds. They met and befriended each other in multilingual and multicultural Singapore and united their creative effort in a global gaming portal. They teamed up, combined their effort, divided their labor according to each one’s best capacities and were able to enjoy the fruits of their work and also had a full understanding of each other’s role in the process: the skills which I, as a representative of a paper and pen generation, took years to develop.
This set me thinking about how much I as a parent contributed to my child’s education, personality, values and understanding of what’s going on around him. I certainly am a conductor of what my parents taught me – be kind, respect others, be careful, try your best. There is a big world of online, virtual and computer reality which our children have to deal with and which they apparently want to enter as soon as possible. Equipped with basic but universal merits to pass on to the next generation, how can I gauge what is going on in the online world of our children? How can I help if there is a need for it? And how can I understand what it is all about, in the first place?
Giving these questions a deep thought, I realized that I will probably never fully understand the new reality the way our children can. All I can do is to repeatedly warn my child that there might lie a danger out there in their online world, same as there might be danger in real life. They need to be careful with what they say and who they talk to. They also need to be safe. Allowing a child to team up with friends or classmates might be a good alternative to a total ban and to pushing a child to desire a forbidden fruit.
Parental asking and a sincere try to see what a child is doing with their tablets or computers is also important. If I didn’t ask my son about it, I would not have known about the interesting dynamics of creative cooperation between a bunch of friends sitting in different countries and united by their common interest.
And what’s the most important I learned through this story is that if you know that you have been doing your best teaching and practising humane values with your little ones – trust that your children will practice them too. You won’t be able to control or engineer your children’s right or proper behavior. But if you trust them and believe in them, they’ll ultimately figure it out even though it’s a lifelong journey both for parents and kids.
Dr Galyna Kogut, A researcher with National Institute of Education (NIE) and PhD from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Galyna focuses on Pedagogy and Teaching with specific emphasis on Language acquisition and Teacher Professional Development. Galyna is Polyglot speakiing English, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, German and Hindi. She has widely read Western psychology & Eastern Philosophies and translated various Indian scriptures into Eastern European languages. She serves as the President for Ukrainian club in Singapore and was the founder for Ukrainian Language School in Singapore.
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