Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cabuting off to Canada

Hey, if this doesn't make you wanna jump on the next boat to Canada, I don't know what will. I'm talking about YY's comments on my LATBG post. Canada sure sounds good doesn't it? A friend tells me there's free health-care and education and it's pretty easy to emigrate there. I don't know much details though, maybe YY could share. But that's all wishful thinking on my part, Eddie would never entertain thoughts of living in what he considers an angmoh country.

So YY, 20 kids per classroom? Is this public or private schools? Yes, I agree too that test-taking shouldn't be so excessive in the early years. Working life isn't a series of exams or tests; what's important is to instil a lifelong love of learning,
an inquiring mind, natural curiousity, the ability to work well with others, the art of giving and taking. Tests do have a place in schools, they can be used to help teachers gauge how much a child has taken in from lessons; however, they can be done in a way that's stress-free (no preparation required), and emphasis is put on how to help the child who's not catching up, and not on who's topping the class.


From YY:

Here in Canada the kids have no pressure from school until they're in grade 11 (~ JC1 in Sgp). Last yr in G1 my son had no homework except a 10-word spelling test every Friday and a home-reading program, about 3 books a week. But they did write journals nearly every day in class.

Despite some flaws in the system I somehow feel the approach over here is more 'age-appropriate' than in Sgp where kids are drilled in test-taking skills right from... K2? This may be impt to train kids for the all-impt 'O' & 'A' levels examinations where how many A's a school gets is really really crucial in some circles (*smirk). But I really don't think test-taking skills is all that impt when it comes to graduate, post-graduate level or the rest of the kids' lives for that matter.

My kid left Sgp in the middle of K1.. Whew! 'Siam'-ed the P1 lottery and also 'siam'-ed his extremely 'ngiao' K1 teacher who traumatized me with frequent parent-teacher chats in which I'm berated on how my little one wasn't toeing the line exactly the way she wanted. Funny, he never had this problem with previous teachers before and never had it ever in Canada either.

Anyway, I like the approach the teachers have over here. PTC's are invariably happy events and the teachers always greet you with a huge smile & talk positively about your kid in any ways they can think of. If there's an area of concern it's discussed encouragingly as something that happens to kids frequently and suggestions are gently hinted at as to how similar scenarios have been effectively managed before, in a very confident & upbeat way. There's never any undercurrent of woe or recrimination.

On the other hand in Sgp I was always made to feel like an inept parent. I guess there is so much stress & expectation in the system that everyone feels insecure--teachers included, which is then passed on to other points of contact.

Over here the class size is small--20kids per class--which can account for teachers being able to give more attention to each kid which in itself would have probably prevented a lot of behavioral or learning issues. And when you start off on a good note, teachers feel they can and are doing a good job for each kid, so they're generally in a state of better morale.

The whole society generally does not expect people to work as long hours or be half as productive as in Sgp. There is no need to--I've asked many Canadians this question before: which country does Canada compete with for economic survival? And no one could ever think of any. The only competition is found in the ice-hockey rink, I concluded! This may account somewhat for why the men are so crazy about ice-hockey over here--at the end of the working week they have excess energy that they have to somehow dissipate somewhere.. (quite unlike Sgp, I must say!)

So if you don't pine for the 'high-life' and you're happy to stay put in Canada for the better part of your life --i.e. the country with one of the largest natural-resource reserves in the world--you don't ever have to hear anyone tell you that you or your kids must learn to be competitive & to stay competitive :-))

Some comparisons to boggle your mind:--

British Columbia (the province where Vancouver is in) has a population of 4+ million (close to Sgp’s) yet the land are is larger than France, Germany & the Netherlands put together!!

The entire country of Canada has a population of 30+ million, which is about the population of the state of California.

There is more than enough natural resources to spare for everyone (including the 2nd largest oil-reserve after Saudi Arabia, btw), I always feel that humans are such a scarce resource here that everyone is 'pampered' by the state. Hence many of the things that people have to angst about in Sgp are largely ‘alien’ and irrelevant here. But I don’t blame the ethos in Sgp because Sgp can't have more different geophysical realities and competition IS a fact of survival there and the kids do have to learn it from very young. And the pie IS getting smaller in Sgp. We have had to work much harder for a house and a car than our parents did, and it’ll only get harder still for our kids.

Why emigrate to Canada & not Australia—some have asked. Well Canada is right next door to the U.S. of A. which is the Happening Land of Opportunities so if my future generation(s) can’t heck the slow life over here they can just drive over for the bright lights & the adrenaline rush.


monlim said...

I remember when I was in primary school, when people talked of emigrating, it was usually to Canada (much more than Australia back then). One of my ex-colleagues did migrate there and she's enjoying it tremendously. But will never happen to us lah.. we're too deeply rooted in Asia and I hate the cold :P

Lilian said...

I've never been to Canada so I don't really know how urban/rural, slow/fast-paced it is. It does sound about as close to Utopia as one can get here on earth. But we are very much city people, I need amenities to be within driving, preferably walking distance. I grew up in an estate where the provision shop was 20 metres from my house, loads of hawker stalls were 100 metres away. Really convenient.

In an ideal world, I'd reside permanently in Canada cos of free health-care & education, but spend a quarter of the year in western Europe, and a quarter of the year in Singapore/Malaysia and a quarter of the year anywhere else with excellent cuisine. If only there was such a thing as temporary life-swap, not just house-swap.

monlim said...

I'm also a city gal. People talk abt retiring in Perth but I'll go crazy. Probably end up murdering all the kangaroos.

All we need to do is wait for teleporting to be invented :D

Lilian said...

I can just see the headlines: Kangaroo Killer on the loose.

Wouldn't it be great if teleporting existed? I once had an actual dream that I could teleport and I just appeared in front of Eiffel Tower, that was such a good dream.

monlim said...

Imagine: teleporting traffic jams... signal busy, too many kids trying to get into Disneyland...

Lilian said...

That's funny!

bACk in GERMANY said...

Hey Lilian,
aren't you living part of that utopia already?
Some part of your time in Moscow, jet to London for a haircut, summer programme in Sg and M'sia.... and perhaps a vacation in the Far East now?

Hi yy!
You really make Canada sound like a dream...
Thing about being in Asia is so true... even if one's intention is to slow down and not join in the stress, others around you won't let you to. So if anytime I want out now, I need to think CANADA!

Lilian said...

PP: Aiyah, you know what I mean lah. To do that on a permanent basis, need to have plenty of dough. Those who have it really good are the retired Singapore teachers receiving pensions, a few months in Australia, a few months in Canada, visiting their children, then go on cruise, suka-suka come back to Singapore for a few months. And they don't have to worry about medical bills cos health-care is covered. Now that is the life.

bACk in GERMANY said...

So sad... I have no pension :(
Think I need to indulge myself a little in your dream of teleportation.

Btw, have you been watching Heroes Season 3?

Lilian said...

Ed and I watched Episode 1, but for Episode 2 the streaming was bad so we gave up. The plot getting more and more outlandish, I don't know if I have the patience for this. I was super fed-up with Season 2, couldn't stand some of the new characters, eg the cry-moan-sob-in-irritating-husky-voice-black-tears girl, the blond girl, Claire's wimpy boyfriend, and that girl with the Jekyl-and-Hyde character got annoying too. Season 1 was amazing though.

So is Season 3 good so far for you?

bACk in GERMANY said...

Season 3 so far is so messy. Too many time-lines, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good... try when Asia is sleeping... smooth streaming. :)
Think the time-line jump in DH is much better.
Can't wait for Grey's Anatomy to return tonight...

Lilian said...

I bet you the writers are probably confused themselves. They're trying to make things so messy so that viewers get too confused to figure out if there are any plot inconsistencies, which there are plenty of I'm sure.

There's a new show called Life on Mars, about a cop who gets into an accident in 2008 and wakes up in 1973. Originally a british show but now adapted for American viewers (ala The Office). The plot sounds interesting.

bACk in GERMANY said...

O yeah... think I remember watching a trailer of it in German... very new meh?

Aiyoh... we are such series-buff. Ok for me, only certain series lah.. Eh... I recently discovered The Starter Wife... found it hilariously funny, esp Judy Davis' portrayal of Joan, straight face and funny script!

Lilian said...

I think the American version is new, saw a write-up on this in Yahoo!. I don't know how to navigate that tudou whatever lah, all cheena writing, so frustrating!

monlim said...

Another tv series buff here! My faves: Frasier, House, Prison Break, Brothers & Sisters, plus almost every reality tv show...

Anonymous said...

In 1998 when I was studying for my masters the only show I watched was X-Files (so passe hor). I would come home every evening and study till I slept, breaking only for that 1hr of X-Files fix every Wed evening, I can still remember!

After that it was the 3 CSI franchises. We get these several times a week over here, so I don't have to 'wait paitently' for it to come round once a week. So I watch until 'sian'.

I used to think CSI was the coolest show until I 'discovered' the Law & Order series just this year (yah, me very slow to catch on). Thanks to reruns, I'm now watching the series starting from the early seasons and watching the latest seasons at the same time. My favorite was initially L&O:SVU, now it's definitely L&O:Criminal Intent.

I find the plots are so intense & intricate that if I so much as miss listening closely to a single line of dialogue, I can be kept wondering how the rest of the story ties up. Maybe I'm slow or what, I keep having to pause, rewind and restart my video-recorder just to follow what's happening. Maybe that's why I never caught on to the series in my pre-videorecorder days!

Besides the sophistication of the plots, they are so diverse in the segments of society, people-types & lifestyles portrayed that one doesn't feel they're turning stale despite all being about solving murders. Perhaps thanks to the plots being all set in NYC, you CAN find all that diversity over there in real life so they can always come up with something new without being outlandish. It's a legal, forensic, law enforcement, sociological, murder-mystery & action thriller all rolled into one.

My favorite character on the show is Detective Goren, played by the actor Vincent D'Onofrio. We get L&O:CI Mon-Fri 5pm & L&O:SVU Mon-Sat 7pm. They keep clogging up the HD-drive of my video recorder!! I can't quite keep up with them.

Here, you can read about this series:


Anonymous said...

Hi Lilian,

My friend remarked that Canada & USA is like Malaysia & Singapore. Americans think Canadians all live in igloos (i.e. ulu) and Canadians can't abide Americans for being loud, brash & arrogant.

Canadians living closest to the US-Canadian border are hip urbanites, but Americans living closest to the US-Canadian border are rural hicks. In Canada, 80% of people live within 100km of the US-Canadian border. This phenomenon is largely driven by climate factors.

In reality, people from outside of North America can't tell the difference between the two peoples. To me, Canadians are more conservative, sedate, toned-down & sensitive. To stereotype things a bit, the 'ave' temperamental-type here is more INtfP while Americans are more ESftJ (these are just off the cuff pronouncements, I haven't really thot very analytically about this. Maybe I'll do so some day!).

In one sense you can think of white-Canadians as being outwardly Americans but inwardly Europeans. We use km but USA uses miles.

(a funny story here: a couple-friend recounted how they were caught speeding on a US freeway but got out of being fined by telling the cops that their speedometer was only in kmph so they couldn't tell they were speeding! It's true. My European car has only kmph, but my Ford--an American car--has both kmph as well as miles-p-hr. When we drove our European car in USA we had to use the miles-p-hr mode on our GPS to tell our speed in real-time!)

To answer your qn, my kiddo is in a public school. Yes, due to people scarcity we're all rather pampered by the state.


Lilian said...

X-files is one show I really never got. I tried sitting through but just couldn't. Have not watched L&O either. Being away in foreign countries these past few years has made it very hard to follow tv series.

In the past I was a huge TV buff, the days of Picket Fences, Party of Five...but I can point to the exact point in time that I stopped watching TV regularly. When Seinfeld ended. There just wasn't anything compelling on tv for me to make the effort to turn it on after Seinfeld ended.

I do love reality tv shows though. I don't get much TV in Moscow, but in London, I'd watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, X-Factor, Big Brother, Celebriy Big Brother, American Idol, Amazing Race, Wife Swap. Must be the voyeur in us that makes reality tv such a popular genre.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Haha... another reason to emigrate to Canada! For all the TVseries!

Hi yy!
Love L&O:Criminal Intent too, only watch the ones with Detective Goren. Coz the other lead (the guy who plays Mr Big in Sex and the City) does not command enough charisma. Have been watching the re-runs in the dubbed German versions here.

Love Mulder and Scully too!!! But the last few seasons were pretty weak...

Anonymous said...

Dear 'back in Germany',

""Love L&O:Criminal Intent too, only watch the ones with Detective Goren.""

Exactly the same feeling here!! Even the wikipedia article remarks on the drop in ratings every time it's Mr Big acting. He has this drone of a voice that emotes severe ennui and it just gets across the screen.

I think I liked the X-Files series because I could relate to Scully. But later on I got tired of it as there isn't any closure and the stories got wierder & wierder.

I think I prefer series like CSI & L&O to dramas like Desp. HW or those Korean ones because I like neat closures at the end of every episode (instant gratification mah, keke). There's also another big hit here called '24' which I can't stand because the end of every episode is always a cliff-hanger so you don't get no satisfaction until the end of the entire SEASON!! I think they're overdoing it a bit--after a while people will get sick of it.


Alcovelet said...

TV shows! A bygone era for me, sigh. I was addicted to X-files, CSI and L&O. The best comedies were Seinfeld, Frasier and SITC. But after the kid came, my TV mysteriously imploded and we didn't replace it till last year. I used to look for reruns on the plane when I was traveling - so shiok! I haven't watched much at all lately but just discovered a nail bar where I can do my nails AND watch Apple TV at the same time. I've done 2 episodes of Cashmere Mafia already :). A bit "pretend" but I'm not complaining! This is the life, man!

Canada - you know what YY, what you say about Canada/US (for faster pace of life) reminds me of several good friends of mine - for those migrating to Oz/NZ, the brights lights is Singapore/HK!! So no fear - for us metropolitan folks who need to retire into ruraldowm, our progeny can still get a taste of the high life in our old playgrounds of yore.

bACk in GERMANY said...

yy: Funny thing that you mentioned about Mr Big's voice. Actually, I only watched the dubbed version... and seriously, I think they found the exact same drone of voice in German- don't ask me how! Anyway, that guy only has one arrogant expression on his face the whole time! Don't like at all!!!

Only managed to catch Seinfeld and Frasiers while I was back in Sg in summer. Couldn't watch these in German... not even Friends, humour doesn't translate well in German, sadly.

Yep, agree that X files got so weird... too many unexplained alien abductions, and mulder's sister was a clone??? and then I just gave up watching... mainly they still didn't have it in germany then.

Ad: oh yes, I lost my TV to my kids too... thank goodness for online streaming now!
Remember I used to watch a couple of light drama kind of series like Ed and Gilmore Girls before Bryan arrived... and that was the end! Occasionally CSI... but never followed. Oh... I still find CSI Miami difficult to chew. Not so much a CSI show, more of a cop-thief-chase showdown. Love CSI NY for the gadgets...

Aiyah... Al complains I watch too many series and German talkshows... He should thank his lucky star that we weren't posted to the States!