B O O K   R E V I E W

   "Forty Years On"

- Memoirs of a Schoolmaster

“Forty Years On” is a journal of an ACSian’s personal journey, which spans over four decades. It relates the author’s experiences through the pre and post-war years as the Anglo-Chinese School family grew from one school to five schools. It describes what being educated means in a mission-aided school.

The author, Mr Earnest Lau, is a true blue ACSian. There is the nostalgia and pride of his early education in the Anglo Chinese Primary School (Coleman Street) and descriptions of the teachers who taught in the school. Familiar names of well-loved personalities like S.M. Sundram, Gan Kee Tian and Lee Choon Nghee surface. I detected a personal sense of longing for the way they imparted lessons and values to be reinforced in the ACS schools of today.

In nine chapters, Mr Lau shares his impressions of schooling and education in Singapore and overseas in the United States and England. He describes in one chapter the transition from learning to teaching and on to leadership of the school he studied in.

In Chapter Three, Mr Lau wrote: “In retrospect, my early years as a schoolmaster were characterized by active involvement in the many aspects of school life, at a time where society was actively changing and demanding more and more from the school system". How apt this observation is even in this present day where change has become accepted as a way of life.

Mr Earnest Lau (right) with Rev (later Bishop)
H B Amstutz at Oberlin College, when his
brother Philip (left) was visiting him

In another chapter, Mr Lau shared: “ It has been said that teaching is the easiest job in the world until you try it; then it quickly becomes the hardest. More than one person has found it important enough to highlight the trials and tribulations of the classroom teacher, and I am sometimes asked if I have any regrets about being in the profession? Would I be a teacher if I had to choose again?

Would he? To find out I suggest you read the book and uncover more gems and insights from a well-loved schoolmaster thousands of ACSians have learnt to fear and respect. I certainly can, having gone through six years at ACS Secondary and Pre-University and Mr Lau as my Class Master (4D, Year of 1964).

The book “Forty Years On – Memoirs of a Schoolmaster” is available in soft cover at the ACS OBA office at the ACS Sports Complex, Barker Road, ACS Independent and ACJC at $15.00 a copy. All net proceeds, including bookstore and mail order sales, will be contributed to the ACS Teachers & Staff Welfare Fund managed by the ACS OBA.

John Tan Yew How


Back to Contents