"The fool and his money are soon parted". I learnt this a long time ago. First as an idiom in primary school. Then in a venture that I was just too careless over. Just careless, not foolish, mind you.
But there are some people who are foolish, like those that paid thousands of dollars to an unaccredited tutor that purportedly could teach their children to be gifted. Obviously these overly ambitious parents are prepared to swallow the bait, hook, line and sinker. I suppose "gifted" to them meant that it was ok to pay through their noses to give their child a chance to join the gifted education programme invented by the Ministry of Education. After all, 'gifts' are bought and given away, right?
I don't want to comment about the tutor who swindled so many people. Suffice to say that he is dastardly and probably a scum of society. There have been others in the past who acted in similar fashion, perhaps even worse. And there will be others who will come along to swindle others in like manner, so long as you have people who are ready and willing to be tricked.
What is remarkable is that people think that a person can be trained to be gifted. Someone said to me that either you have it or you don't. Hello, its in the genes, and you can't train genes to perform somersaults, can you?. I tend to agree. That's what you start off with. Good genes. But to fully harness the capabilities that those genes bring, you have to work hard, really hard. Like putting in the hours to read, to train your mind, to practise, to become familiar and good at what you want to do, like playing the piano, or creating the next new thing. Wasn't it Thomas A. Edison who said that you need 1% inspiration and 99% hard work to achieve your goals? Well, he should know. He was probably the greatest inventor in modern times.
In a way, the Singapore education system has encouraged people to 'buy' knowledge and capability. Singapore is not known to be the tuition nation for nothing. And the sad situation is that the school system appears to be working hand-in-glove with the tuition industry. I have heard from parents and students that teachers in the formal school system assume that every child has a tutor. So they off-load, or outsource, some of their teaching to the tutors, never mind that some children come from families that are too poor to even afford a meal from the school canteen. Tell me I am wrong, but somehow I am not hopeful of being proven wrong. Perhaps these teachers are taking too literally the mantra, "teach less, learn more" - an invention of the Ministry of Education. Do we even know what this means before we take it literally? For one, excellence and promotions are still very much dependent on a rigorous examination system where the muggers tend to do well. I am not saying that that is the best and only way to do well in school. There have been exceptions, but the rule is more relevant to the rest of us.
So long as we have such a system of rote learning, there will always be pretenders who will help fools part with their money.