兩周一聚:傳統&傳統智慧/Convention & Conventional Wisdom

對也好,不對也好,傳統智慧自有它美麗之處,但傳統卻並不盡然。

I’d like to think of myself as creative, and so I don’t necessarily like to follow convention. I know it must be hard for some of my childhood friends to think of me as being very creative, because when I was a kid, I was the kind of quiet, obedient girl who always follows the rules. But that was just my “cover.” Deep down, I’ve always known that I have the urge to be different. This was most obvious in my writing assignments at school.

Since I was the obedient type at school, my teachers liked to call upon me when they needed someone to answer a question. They knew they could count on me. During composition class, my teachers would ask me to tell the class what I would write about for a certain topic. This had been both a challenge and a satisfaction for me. I would secretly come up with 2 answers – a public answer to satisfy the class’ need, and a private answer to use in my assignment.

So why did I need 2 answers? Because I knew that the public answer would usually be copied by some of my classmates. And I wanted to be different. I didn’t want my assignments to look like any of my classmates’. My challenge was to think of an okay answer for the class (you see, if I kept handing out substandard answers, I’d eventually lose my credibility as a “good” student), and then a better answer for my own assignments in order to maintain my grades, and, more importantly, satisfaction of being different.

This dirty little secret of mine went on for a few years. As I got into secondary school (for my American friends, secondary school in Hong Kong is the equivalent of middle & high school in the U.S.), I came clean. I felt there was no need to hide my appetite for the unconventional anymore, and that it was okay if I’m not the typical, obedient student that everyone believed I was. Not that I turned into a rebel, but I finally came to terms with myself. I did not need to use these tricks in my composition class to show that I was different.

But how our minds work! As my liking for the conventional lessened, my respect for conventional wisdom grew stronger. I started to appreciate seemingly unscientific remedies that my mom told me about. All of a sudden, bathing in rock sugar solution to soothe itchy skin didn’t seem so ridiculous any more. Now, I even make it a habit to ask my mom for conventional wisdom if I need help in certain things.

Becoming a parent probably prompted at least some of this. I hope when my son gets older, I would be able to pass onto him some conventional wisdom that I learned from my mom.

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12 thoughts on “兩周一聚:傳統&傳統智慧/Convention & Conventional Wisdom

  1. Pingback: 09年3月30日第十一期: 傳統 & 傳統智慧 / Convention & Conventional Wisdom « 兩周一聚

  2. Pingback: 「兩周一聚」(十一): 傳統 & 傳統智慧 / Convention & Conventional Wisdom « 加燦 指指點點 - ca 8 hk

  3. Dear hongkieatlarge,

    Thanks a lot for your essay and revealing your childhood mischief. he he.

    While you finally came clean with your naughty plan, I was more willing to go all the way. 🙂 All through my primary and secondary school in Hong Kong, I was willing to play dumb. In hindsight, I knew I was a lot smarter than I appeared. Fortunately for me, no one would mistaken me for fooling them as I had many many bad grades to back up my “appearance”. With the grades that I left HK with, no one would have guessed the scholarships or awards that I would have received later. So my “acting” was not bad, right? 🙂

    Thanks again for playing along and share with us this wonderful essay.

    • Kempton,

      It’s funny how we’re all so different from what we were. I guess, in a way, this just again shows that we all have our potential to be great (or at least better). It’s just a matter of really working to let our potential flourish.

  4. Pingback: 09年3月30日第十一期: 傳統 & 傳統智慧 / Convention & Conventional Wisdom « 兩周一聚

  5. hongkieatlarge,

    > It’s just a matter of really working to let our potential flourish.

    You are partly right. The part that you are wrong is I think HK’s education system sucks. At least the idea of separating top students from bottom of the barrel, separating science from arts student way too early. This is one indirect lesson I learned from Gladwell’s Outliers.

  6. Oh how I hate my composition classes! I would spend half the time answering questions from teacher and classmates and the remaining time trying to write something clever – it didn’t always work though. I still remember one time my favourite teacher gave me a Z++ because I wrote a good 200 words and no more. We were required to write 400 words in order to pass the exams but I just couldn’t be bothered. My teacher was disappointed and so was I…

    • sun sun,

      Z++? Who gave you that? She’s being creative, huh? I remember I used to have to answer so many questions from so many different classmates too! But I never got anthing less than an A…hehe…I win this time!

  7. I am revisiting your blog article …..

    >> … 究竟係人大咗思想有所改變,抑或做咗人阿媽才有不同想法?

    I believe the way we think changes gradually as we mature. However, the sudden realization that one is responsible for bringing up a new-born can be quite overwhelming !! Being a parent definitely changes quickly one’s perspective and priorities in life.

    • Haricot,

      Yeah, it’s difficult to tell what sparked a certain change. I’ve always wondered whether the changes I consciously made in the last few years are the result of my growing age, my role as a wife & mom, or a different place of residence. Of course, I have no definite answer…

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