I’ve just spent ten minutes waiting for a bus on campus in Singapore and overheard students say these things with respect to the election results:
1) “It’s not gonna affect us one la, the US is damn far away leh bro”
2) “Trump is racist but everybody is racist to some extent anyway, it’s quite normal”
3) “These things won’t come here one, we’re not so racist”
4) “He won’t dare to do anything to Singapore cos of trade”
5) “His business is quite good right, like he’s quite successful la so he has experience”
6) “I read on Facebook that Hillary is corrupt […] so I’ll never vote for her”
7) “Wah that was damn fun to watch, it’s like reality TV but real […] so entertaining”
Where to from here, as instructors who work with young people every day:
1) Be even more invested in engaging with students to see their worldview. Understanding and trying to speak their language is more important and effective than belittling students or shutting them down.
2) Probe students to critically assess their opinions, validate their sources of information, stimulate desire to develop critical thinking. Parochial media consumption breeds closedmindedness, but the media culture here has fostered unthinking passive uptake.
3) Teach and discuss Standpoint Theory and Cultural Relativism and Positioning and Interpellation in the classroom. Some students don’t think critically or practice empathy because they haven’t been taught how to, and we will equip them.
We encourage these conversations when we can. We do this in baby steps. We start tomorrow.