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Old 2012-11-26, 05:13   Link #65
Feeling comfy
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 43
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
I would argue strongly however that this is a common feature of youth and less, though still partly, of culture. Young people do not have firm, closed identities. Friendships among teenagers mean more to each other than their adult selves would often admit.
I wanted to touch on this, the idealism of youth. My General Paper module (the equivalent of the anime's "homeroom") in junior college was a fiery affair, as you'd expect from a humanities class focusing on English Literature, Economics and History. There was also the fact that a few of my more vocal classmates were active members of the junior college's Debating Society (of whom I was a "part-time" member; I would have loved to be more active but the Students' Council took up most of my time after class). We had a superb "homeroom" teacher — incidentally the same teacher who advised the Debating Society — who moderated sometimes heated exchanges over a range of socio-economic and political issues. Looking back, we were so naive. But the passion, oh my, the passion with which we believed in our ideas... it is the fuel I'd like to think carries us forward to this day.

(It may also have bred the sense of elitism and entitlement that I'm often accused of, but that's a different story of a different personal journey. I make no apologies for the way it may have shaped my ego, as I am what I am, warts and all.)

The same passion was also very evident in the Students' Council. Some of my fellow councillors truly believed in the Kennedy ideal of "ask not what your country (ie, our school) can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". Some would say that our zeal approached fanaticism.

I would think this youthful idealism is what is being celebrated through anime "friendship". It recalls the time when our ideals were still pure, and not yet sullied by the cynicism of experience.

Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
It's easier in Singapore, where geographic limitations and the less mobility of the general population means people have a much higher chance of sticking together over the years. It's easier in East Asian educational systems which, as shown in Japanese anime, enforce a class-focused system as opposed to subject-focused, so that except for a few electives, people take class together and it becomes a group identity. It's not as easy in some places like the USA, where higher overall population mobility stemming from culture and geography means people move around, all the time, and increasingly so, such that long-lasting friendships of the sort are much harder to forge and maintain. Does that mean they don't happen? No, quite the contrary.
That's what I'd like to know. My limited knowledge of American high school life sadly comes from shows like, hmm, Beverly Hills 90210.

Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
And yes, uniforms.

This is generally viewed as a bad thing, because as your memories (and mine, too, but I shan't elaborate) show, the depth of relationships being created in such circumstances far surpass the times when people can, or know they can, stay individualized, but it might be good for some nonconformist individuals.
I strongly believe that uniforms are a good thing, at least in Singapore, because it prevents stratification by social class. It doesn't matter whether you're from a humble background or a privileged background — everyone, rich or poor, wears the same thing. (Of course, people being people, there will always be ways to show off one's status, but the principle of uniformity regardless of social class remains very well enforced through the school uniform.)

There is a key difference between school uniforms in Singapore and Japan, though, and that's variety. There a number of schools here with very distinctive uniforms, unlike those in Japan (at least as presented in anime, and based on my own experience from having visited the country). This serves to heighten the sense of group identity, which generally tends to make schools mean more to us while growing up. In short, it was a form of esprit de corps.

Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
In a military you're all going to listen to orders. In a school, until the divisive and much dreaded final years when people need to think about where else to go, we're all sticking together whatever comes. So, "too much choice is a bad thing," maybe? Or more accurately, there's a trade-off that will be expensive to some and freely given for others.
Ah yes, the military. For Singaporean guys, we have mandatory military service. That's another bonding experience that is perhaps not so "youthful" but nonetheless equally instrumental in forging a shared identity. That's another long story, though, and I'm afraid I don't have much to share about national service that's positive, heh.

All in all, I look forward to read more about the Western perspective of youth and school life.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2012-11-26 at 07:20.
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