Teachers' reflections on national identity captured in new book

SINGAPORE - Former secondary school English and literature teacher Samantha Tham used to get puzzled reactions from students when she discussed Eurasian identity while covering Singapore's multi-racial heritage under the National Education syllabus.

"Some of them don't know what a Eurasian is and people were asking me whether national swimmer Joseph Schooling is Singaporean or not," said Ms Tham, 29, a third-generation Eurasian who is of Chinese, German, Spanish and Portuguese heritage.

Together with her husband, Adam Rahman, who is of Peranakan, Malay, Thai and British descent, she has launched a book project and exhibition, Reflections on National Identity, which captures 25 Singaporean teachers' personal experiences and reflections in the process of teaching National Education.

Narratives include those of pioneering Singaporean poet and academic Edwin Thumboo, and poet and university lecturer Kirpal Singh.

Other teachers whose stories are featured in the book come from a wide range of educational institutions, from primary to tertiary levels and special education and private schools.

The exhibition is now open, from 10am to 10pm, at the Cathay Atrium until Saturday and admission is free. Copies of the book will be available for visitors to take home. The project is supported by the SG50 Celebration Fund.

yuensin@sph.com.sg