One of the side effects of working in a mall, is that you get distracted. I am not talking about brands having their sale, I am talking about the people and their activities.
I was sitting at a café at a mall where Kidzania is located. And I saw so many schools were doing their ‘tours’ to that place. It was fun to see the kids’ excitement and noise as they came down the escalator, bringing with them the half-day’s experience in Kidzania that I am sure is exciting to any kids (or even parents). But then, something tickled me.
Here we are. Living in a big city that can really drive you nuts. And when we are already driven to the wall, we need a place to run. To entertain ourselves. To soothe our bruised souls. And the easiest, most of the time (if not ALL the time), we go to the malls.
Every weekend, I am sure many families come flocking to so many malls in Jakarta. Sometimes, me included. We do not seem to be able to avoid it, do we?. It seems that every mall has a very strong magnet, pulling us with all its force, luring us to walk into its doors. Though sometimes, we know that we will find the same old stuff that we find in any other mall. Cip used to describe these malls as ‘soul-less arrogant buildings’. Because even when soul-less, people still coming no matter what, so they have a reason to be arrogant.
What we do not realize, I think, is that these malls have taken away a lot of other interests. Museums, art centers, zoo ( I know Ragunan zoo is seen as a ‘too low-end entertainment place’ by some people. Geez…get real!. Have you ever asked if your kids care about things that you think are important for you?!), even the not many parks that we have. But worse, I think malls have taken away the power to imagine, explore, and find un-standard experiences.
When I saw those kids going home from Kidzania, I could not help but thought, how many days in their lives are they NOT in a mall?. And I always think schools, is actually a way for kids to experience a totally different experience compared to when they are with their parents, or when at home.
I remember the days when we went to museums, Monas, Taman Mini, on school tours. We were happy with those. I still kept many of those memories in my head till now. So when I saw those kids, I couldn’t help thinking do they still experience that?.
Maybe, since kids nowadays are entertained by so many things, schools also feel that they have to compete with those. Maybe, if not Kidzania, kids will lose interest. But hey, they are kids!. What’s in their minds can still be shaped. And us adults who need to ‘sell’ ideas to them.
I know what Kidzania has to offer: an experience of different ‘jobs’. I have no objection to it. But to see that SCHOOLS think it’s a good place to take kids to for ‘education’…my oh my, I really have to disagree. Their PARENTS can take their kids to Kidzania, while they are shopping. But shouldn’t school provide something that is more rooted in real life?.
Why not arranging a visit to a real factory?, real fire fighter’s office and car?, real police quarters?. I am sure there are ways to arrange that. Cip once talked to a fire fighter in Mampang just to ask if we are allowed to visit and see the car so Tara can see the real thing. And that guy said he was more than happy to show us around (we just have to make it happen amidst Cip’s crazy schedule!). And I’m sure these institutions will love to have schools visiting them – they will feel appreciated, and noted.
Oh well. Call me a cynic. But I am more and more concerned looking at the lives of these city kids. They are deprived of so many ‘real life’ things – from seeing real cows to farmers at work. Do we want to deprive them even more by having them experience a life in a ‘fake city’, in an un-imaginative place called a mall?!. Entertainment, fine. But part of school activity?. Parents, I think we need to be more critical.
(R I R I)