Voices of Youth: Many fear being judged if they stand out

When I was in primary school, there was an instance when my teacher got the class to choose between two answers to a question, of which only one was right.

Pupils who chose the first option would move to one side of the classroom, while those who chose the second option would move to the other.

At the beginning of the activity, many stood in the middle of the classroom until some of their friends made their choices, after which they followed their friends.

Near the end, only a couple of classmates and I were on one side, while the majority was on the other. As the teacher started firing questions at us, the classmates who were with me started moving to the other side, one by one. I was the only pupil left on that side.

Surprised by my decision, my teacher asked me why I didn't go along with the majority. My answer was that I simply believed in myself, and what was the worst that could happen if I got it wrong?

This simple social experiment showed that even primary school children were afraid of standing out by not following the majority.

I am not saying that following the majority is wrong, or that our own opinions are always right.

However, it does seem as though most Singaporeans would rather follow the majority for the rest of their lives than stand up for their own opinion, just because of the fear of being judged.

I know that these words, coming from a secondary school student with barely any life experience, may sound unconvincing, but I sincerely hope that more Singaporeans will have the courage to stand up for their opinion, and feel proud of themselves regardless of the results.

Chua Yong En, 15

Secondary 4 student

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.