The Teachers' Scrounge

News and comments from the world of public education. A middle school math teacher shared what he learned today.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No gum for you!

How did I not know this? Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore. It may not be imported, sold, or owned. It has been banned since 1992 because it caused all sorts of cleaning and maintenance problems. The tipping point was when vandals would put gum over the door sensors on the new rapid transit system, shutting down the trains. (Imagine... gum shows up on the new carpet in the classroom, so now it is banned.)

Then the story gets really weird. As the US and Singapore were negotiating the USSFTA (US/Singapore Free-Trade Agreement), Wrigley's pushed for a lift to the gum ban. Singapore finally relented to allowing Medicinal-Use gum! You may purchase sugar-free gum with calcium (builds enamel, don't you know). But you must buy from a dentist or pharmacy, and they must keep a log with your name and ID number.

So this reminds me of my Pre-Calculus teacher my junior year in high school. She was convinced she didn't have to ban gum... she only had to tell us one thing. This magical point would make sure we would never chew gum again. She said, "Where does gum come from? Trees! And what do dogs do to trees?" Then she grinned smugly. I don't think it changed anyone's views on mastication.

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