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Friday, February 7, 2014

Falling in Love With Little Boy's School

The Daughter gave me an earful after reading this post. She said "It's SO sexist! Girls should learn to generate wealth too!" Hmmmm...  to my credit, I did try to teach her the same lessons on financial management that I had taught Little Boy... and I did lament that her school didn't teach such lessons...

Thanks to his school, Little Boy learnt 2 very important lessons lately...

(1) He learnt how to make money
(2) He learnt how to give it all away

To my mind, these are lessons every boy should learn. Every boy should learn how to make a living. Every boy should know how to give away wealth.

In the very tradition of Little Boy's school, the notion of giving back permeates the school ethos in the way a room is filled with the fragrance of rose. Everywhere you go, you smell it. In every part of the room, you breathe it in. No one overtly SPEAKS of it, nor names it. It is part of the air you breathe. The alumni, now men, think nothing of donating paintings and pictures etc... for auctions. The other alumni think nothing of bidding generously for a painting by an ex-classmate. The tradition of giving back is breathed in... and absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it makes its way into the very marrow of their bones. I am so proud of these men who make money and give it away. I am so proud they are my friends.

Little Boy benefited from the largesse of his seniors who raised money last year to fund Little Boy's school trip this year. In turn, Little Boy generated wealth that he gave away to fund next year's school trip for his juniors. Now, notice that the boys were not asked to raise money for their OWN school trip. The school could well have positioned it that way. It's merely psychological positioning. It is the same difference. The boys are raising money for a school trip. It's up to the school to decide whether it is for the boys' own trip or for someone else's trip.

It was genius of the school to require that the money be used for someone else's trip. This meant that the boys had to give all the wealth they had generated to someone else. Freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely, give.

Little Boy was thrilled to be part of this. He was the leader of his fund-raising group, and together with very enterprising team members, they turned $35 of seed money into $120. That is almost quadrupling their initial investment outlay. Not bad for newbies at retailing. They exploited a marvellous business opportunity selling cup noodles to other boys DURING their own trip. Imagine 120 hungry boys staying up past midnight (even though they weren't supposed to). Invariably many of them would get hungry closer to midnight. Little Boy's fund-raising group made $20 of profit, which they promptly ploughed back into buying more inventory to sell at a Charity Bazaar back in Singapore.

Thanks to their cup noodles headstart, they came back to Singapore with almost double the inventory that the other groups had. All the new inventory sold like hot cakes because somehow, someone in Little Boy's group had pinpointed a product reeking with nostalgia. So, instead of appealing to boys their age, their inventory appealed to the richer adults (teachers and parents).

It is hard to teach a child how to make money. Little Boy has a natural bent towards buying and selling for profit. He started with selling caterpillars... and then he helped his friend to sell sweets. So, this fund-raising thing was right up his alley. He was so thrilled to take part that he was practically giggling the whole time he was telling me about it.

He hasn't giggled in a looooooooong time. He considers it beneath his teenage dignity now.

I had wanted to help my son. I proposed to him that I would donate some inventory of my own. He was very offended indeed. "No way, Mom! That's cheating!" I want it to be known as our effort. It must not be contaminated by your involvement.

Hmmmph... he called me a "contamination"!

It is a life skill you know, the ability to generate wealth. The Daughter's school never taught it. She spent her time in academic and CCA pursuits. She won prizes for writing and research. Not once was she asked to raise funds nor give money away. She entered university still very proud of having attended events such as Mock United Nations, where kids play at being "important" UN representatives pretending to argue the fate of the world. She was proud of having published her own book, and presented her research at an overseas conference. These are achievements no doubt, but now she tells me, "Mommy, employers don't care about all those things. I need to constitute another type of skills portfolio to appeal to employers."

I am very happy that Little Boy's school gave him a chance to learn 2 important life skills. It is a good school indeed. What I need to do now is to get The Daughter married to one of this school's alumni. Kekekekekeke!


Celine said...

Indeed every boy needs to learn how to generate money, and then how to give it away.

Food for thought: I observe that girls are taught overtly in schools (and subtle values at home) to be good wives and mothers... or good CEOs, depending on which girl's school... but not how to generate $ from $.

Petunia Lee said...

Celine - I don't think many boys' schools teach kids to generate $$ from $$.

Celine said...

That is true. Girls or boys or co-ed school.

pummanuel said...

Hi Petunia, I was from your daughter's school. During my time, we had fund raising activities too, in the form of funfairs, concerts, exhibitions, etc. All the funds went to the new premise which we never had a chance to study in. Hence, when my friends and I passed by the new school, we felt a remote attachment to it - attached as we contributed to it, remote as it was not the premise where we spent our wonderful 4 years. I'm surprised they do not have such activities anymore. It was a staple during my time. :)

Petunia Lee said...

pummanuel - There was ONE fund-raising concert she took part in. However, she never really got to strategise nor drive the initiative in the way Little Boy was asked to do. In that instance, 2 parents planned and drove everything. The girls took part. The intent was really to raise funds only. Teaching the girls financial life lessons was not a salient aim.

Little Boy's school approached it differently. The aim was really to educate the boys. The $$ was less of an issue. Some groups, like the servant who buried the 5 talents his master gave him, returned $35 to the school. No loss. No profit. To me, it was done with clearly an intent to educate... and the $$ was a bonus.

The Daughter's school approached it in a way where the $$ was salient and the lessons were a bonus.