In my 15 years in the U.S., I've found that Americans who discover I'm from Singapore often have the same initial questions: Do they really cane people? Is Singapore math really that good? So, you really can't chew gum there?
The answers are, yes, yes and not really.
(Not that I'm endorsing it but, one could hypothetically bring gum into Singapore from elsewhere. I suspect the Customs dogs aren't exactly trained to suss out Doublemint contraband, after all.)
Recently, however, the Los Angeles Times reported a finding that could just make a case for legalizing Dubble Bubble in my home country.
According to the L.A. Times (which is also responsible for that fetching picture of gum we have here) researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston conducted a study involving 108 students between the ages of 13 and 16 who were either ordered to not chew gum or allowed to chew gum while doing math homework and during math tests.
At the end of 14 weeks, both sets of students took a test and those who chewed gum showed "a 3% increase in standardized math test scores and had final math grades that were significantly better than the other students. Teachers observed that those who chewed gum seemed to require fewer breaks, sustain attention longer and remain quieter," the paper reported.
Could it be possible that said math geniuses would actually be even *better* at math if they were allowed to chew gum during their tests?
Granted, this "study" was sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute, which on its Web site declares without a whiff of jest that it is "the first organization of its kind committed to advancing and sharing scientific research that explores the benefits of chewing gum." (An explanation that makes it sound like either a Jon Stewart invention or, a thinly veiled way of conveying "marketing and public relations.")
But, if this study will help my people, I'm all for it. The possibility of stratospheric math scores, after all, can't be ignored.
Now, if only the Wrigley Science Institute would come up with a study that would tie chewing gum and free speech with fabulous test scores.