Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sharon's Reflection

1) What is my understanding of Singapore's history before the visit to the museum and the trail?
Before embarking on the this journey, I am aware of the stories behind the existence of the trails and the artefacts shown in the museum. We were taught in schools and are stories that we grew up listening to. In fact, it wasn't the first time that I went on such trails. The differences between then and now is that, now that I am older and able to understand and interpret facts better, making the journey seems more interesting and interactive especially  when I can make links with what was taught and what I see with my own eyes. It seems to form a visual documentary in my mind as I walk through the gallery and the trails.  

2) What did I learn about Singapore past on the trail?
As my group was suppose to go to Little India, i was hoping to learn more about the customs and traditions of the Indians. But it was more of a religious and location site. Ilearnt more about the reasons why there were so many temples of different races in that area, the background information of the buildings and well as the how did the roads get its names. With these information, it also gives me an insight of how life was like in the past, the activities that happened around the area as well as the stories of the temple gods. Though many times I caught myself doubting what I was seen or heard. Amazingly, I am surprised to find temples and churches in the middle of Little India, which is supposedly the place for Hindus. 
As for the museum, it was more on the insights of collections of the past. Honestly speaking, I felt that it was not very interesting.The biggest challenge I have embarking on this trip was the credibility of these facts I have seen. I could not believe entirely to what was describe there and then. But still, a benefit of doubt was given.   

3) What were some of the new discoveries that  I made on the trail.
I always thought that Little India was a location meant only for the Indian society, especially in the past. Little did I know that the Europeans were also located in those areas, hence, the names for the lanes. Example, Hasting road and Campbell lane.  
Unlike other religions, for Indian temples, there can be more than 1 deity  in the temple. To my astonishment, these deities can also take on the forms of many and even have wives. That was a shocking encounter for me! It was more like a religion trail that about Singapore's past. Because I am a Christian and grew up in a Christian family, hence was not aware of the religion.
Secondly, it also brought on new insights of the custom and traditions. The flower garlands were used in paying respects to the gods as well as during weddings. And a very important businessman who made his name famous. The philanthropist, Govindasamy. Honestly, I didn’t like the idea that only him was named and placed in the heritage board. I am sure there are also others who were as penniless initially and as generous in the latter. Perhaps, he was the only one who survive the ordeal. On the other hand, if he was not mentioned, perhaps we wouldn't know that such philanthropist also exist in the Hindu society.

4) Has enough been done to preserve Singapore's past? What could have been done better?

Well, if Singapore could preserve itself like it was in the past, then there won't be a Singapore. The modern and developed type that people of other country known as. The best that Singapore could do is probably re-enactment instead of preserving. But i would agree that National Heritage Board has indeed tried its best to create a heritage and pass on the best of the civilizations for these places.  

Buffalo street is an interesting place. It was named after the activities that was happening on that street itself. It would be great if they could film some of the real landscapes then and show them in a museum. That would help to capture the past more accurately and vividly for the next generations. Looking at the place now, it was hard for me to imagine how it was in the past.

There were not much items in the national museum. Some of these items gives me the feel that because our history books said so, therefore it was a enactment or reproduce of the past. Indeed photos and video footage are the best to dictate the past. But what I love the most in this trail was to do oral history with those living in the area. Some were able o tell us the stories of the past that they heard from their parents.

5) How has the trail helped me in my understanding of Singapore's history, and History as a discipline?

Throughout this trail, the word 'selection' kept dwelling in my mind. Many of these places were recognised solely because they were selected by the authorities. Indeed, it does enrich my knowledge on what history of Singapore, but on the other hand, I was also sceptical about the things that were displayed and shown. It makes me wonder if these were produced as a replication to fit in the past or was it the past that they were trying to bring it out into the present. Especially the National Museum.

6) How could what I have experienced be translated into my future classrooms?
I would want my students to have a personal encounter with what we as a group went through in this journey as well. Perhaps in a smaller scale so that it won't be that tiring. Also to interact with the locals of the area. The downfall would be when these people pass away and the knowledge were not pass on, that would be the end of a valuable past. Maybe, we could record the interviews for future use or make it into an iPad app where the future students can play as they visit these places. 

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