I’m writing this because I want to remind myself not to conform and forget. Not before I figure out why. In our bid to become a smart nation, are we inadvertently forgoing some wisdom and intelligence? As a parent, I’m concerned about the cashless system that is reportedly going to be implemented in primary schools.

I’m all for embracing new technology that will boost the economy, bring about convenience and perhaps reduce waste, but I can’t help feeling we may be skipping some important steps.

Back in primary school, I remember learning about the value of money and how to spend wisely, by planning my expenditure at the start of every school week when my parents handed me the week’s allowance. It was important for me to see the notes and coins, to count them every day, because the physical presence of cash reminded me of how much or how little I actually had.

I also experienced first-hand the benefits of being thrifty when I tried my best to save up, one coin a day, for an idol’s latest cassette tape album or a best friend’s present. The sound of a dropping coin hitting the top of the heap that’s rising every day. The satisfaction in that weighted knowledge that my goal is within reach.

I kept a little purse in my bag for my daily allowance, making sure I kept it carefully and never lost it. I understood responsibility: if I lost it, I would have no money left for the day. If I lost it, my parents would be upset. I bore my little responsibility to the best of my ability, and when I failed, I tasted the consequence.

I picked up social skills by communicating with the aunties and uncles who manned the different stalls in the school canteen. Most of the time our conversation would involve Aunty or Uncle telling me the price of my purchase, and while I struggled with my coins and notes, as long as I remembered to be polite and smile, Uncle or Aunty would wait patiently and praise me for finally getting it right, or kindly correct me if I paid the wrong amount.

I can go on. But, what do I know. I’m just an old-fashioned cynic who’s stuck in a rut.

Maybe someone can explain to me the reason behind all the haste. The haste to make our kids adults before they have time to be kids. The rush to make them so technologically advanced before they even grasp values that will actually help them use technology sensibly and ethically in future. The educational value in replacing face-to-face physical transactions with human-to-machine cashless payments.

Do enlighten me, so I can be better prepared to explain to Luke when he asks.

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