Tuesday, October 14, 2008

English: Sea poems

Two poems about the sea (dated 19 January 2007).

Sea poem 1

I went on a sea journey,
Through the jagged rocks,
Sailing against the stormy wind,
The rain beating down on our ship,
The dark blue water in our faces,
Salt water washing people overboard,
All those things didn't get me,
But the sea monsters did.

I don't think the 2nd is actually a poem, doesn't look or sound anything like one.

Sea poem 2

What causes a tsunami?
When a sea monster jumps into the sea.
What causes ships to sink?
When sea monsters bite holes in them.
What causes boats to capsize?
When sea monsters push them over.
Why is the sea salty?
Because sea monsters put salt on their food but it dissolves.


Teachers overseas are always encouraging, even when the child's obviously on the wrong track, they're never harsh nor do they belittle the child. Really great for self-esteem.


Anonymous said...

"" Teachers overseas are always encouraging, even when the child's obviously on the wrong track, they're never harsh nor do they belittle the child. Great for self-esteem.""

May I add: great for parents' self-esteem too :-)

It was a pleasant culture-shock for us when we saw my boy & his classmates' journal entries when he was in Grade 1 last yr. They were full of spelling mistakes but never-the-matter, the 'suggested' correct spelling is written unobtrusively under about half the wrongly spelled words without any 'crosses' implicating you're 'wrong'.

Kids are encouraged to explore & express themselves freely without fear of making mistakes; if they don't know the spelling, just make out the word according to how it sounds. It's like the emphasis is on developing the confidence to put down on paper all their thoughts as much as possible, before developing the skills to follow often-arbitrary language rules that's culturally or historically dictated. The subliminal message seems to be that kids should learn they have the 'constitutional right' to individual freedom of expression before they learn they have to follow certain rules. Very North American, lor. (or am I reading too much into this? :)

So he came up with these 'creative' spellings that reduce words to bare phonics: 'peyeno lesens'; a good 'pursen'; 'jakat'; 'elafant'; feeling 'nurvas'; 'tabl'; 'apl' (for apple); 'bamntan rakt'; 'avry sumar' I go to the 'beech'; 'rimot' control' I want to be an 'egeener' when I grow up... ; a 'speshl' toy.

(doesn't this read like those teenage sms-texts that so infuriate the hell out of language purists?? :)

I read somewhere that creativity has to do with not being afraid of making mistakes. So fostering creativity may have something to do with even small things like this.. I'm not saying that not correcting spelling mistakes is one way to foster creativity, but it's within the the overall context & culture of not being so anal about everything having to be right to the extent that it cramps the free flow of ideas.

In Sgp I would expect the same journals that I saw in my boy's class to be full of red crossing-out marks and even the occasional derisive comments. Maybe Asian parents would even expect that, or they'd think the teacher has gone off her rocker.

Is this what you observe in the UK or would the teacher make a point to correct every spelling mistake? Or maybe this is just the North Americans thumbing their noses at the Brits for coming up with all these funny spelling rules... :-). I WOULD expect the Brits to be particularly anxious to preserve their status as the global bastion of correct English. I learn from my UK sis-in-law that there aren't that many American children's shows in UK because they don't want their progeny to pick up the cross-Atlantic accent.. :-).

I find that in Canada, 'accents' do affect the ease of social interactions subtly but significantly, though it has nothing to do with class-consciousness. If you speak the local accent it immediately says that you've spent a long enough time over here for the cultural gap to have become insignificant. I'm not sure if this is peculiar to B.C. where the influx of immigrants have caused the innately sedate & conservative British Columbians to feel the strain of having to make constant cultural adjustments over the recent couple of decades.

Anyway speaking of British education, my off-the-cuff impression is that my UK nephew seems to be getting a much better education than my boy is over here in Canada. But then my UK nephew is attending a school whose intake is largely amongst the kids of Oxford University teaching staff so perhaps the standard is as good as the elite private schools there.


Lilian said...

I was going through Brian's books to check on how marking is done and realised something! The teachers in his UK school do not use red-inked pens, but green ones, how's that for some positivity? Green for go, red for stop.

And there are no angry markings (unlike when mummy dearest is in charge), just the correctly- spelled word written at the end for the child to write say, 4 more times.

But unlike in North A, I don't think British schools would allow spelling mistakes to go uncorrected. You know how proper they are.

Yes, overseas teachers are positive, almost to a fault; at times I really feel, "c'mon, let's get real here." Every child seems to be perfect. They find positive things to say about kids; while in Singapore, my experience with Brian's P1 teacher was she was trying to find something negative to say about him. Eg. at the parent-teacher meeting, she said, "Well, I have nothing to say about his exam results. But Brian's very disorganised." He was in P1, c'mon.

When I bring up to his overseas teachers about how disorganised he is, they just smile and say lots of boys his age are like that.

And I definitely think he was getting a much better academic education over in the UK than here. They had specialist teachers for every subject there, even the artwork they produced were of outstanding quality. Over here, one teacher teaches everything (except music, art, IT and PE) so good luck to you if you get a lousy one that year. And once Brian brought back something he did at art, I was speechless, like kindergarten work, pasting pasta on a black piece of paper to form some kind of figure. When my husband came home, he saw it and asked why Sean's (my then 5-year old) work was not being kept away. Pengsan.

That said, the atmosphere here is a lot more relaxed. There are lots more project and team work. The kids in the UK seem more competitive. The kids here are very easy-going and I see less behaviourial issues here than in his London school, where the teachers are more strict. Very strange. A few of his UK classmates were truly rude to their teachers. Maybe over here, the kids don't feel like they're being talked down to, so they react positively by returning the respect given to them.

Anonymous said...

I surmise that your kids are actually getting a US-type education despite being in Moscow, am I right?

""Maybe over here, the kids don't feel like they're being talked down to, so they react positively by returning the respect given to them.""

This is so, so true in Canada too & was one of the first things I noticed when I visited my son's school for the first time.

Before the assembly began there was the usual hubbub you'd expect from a gathering of 100+ kids. But the moment the principle walked to the front of them, he just raised his hand and there was a near-complete immediate hush. I couldn't figure out what magic he worked! As for the current principle who took over just 1 year ago, he doesn't even have to raise his hand. He just stands in front of them & looks at them benignly for about a couple of seconds & you get that magical hush too.

Contrast Sgp: as I remember it during my schooldays and also during recent times when I visited my kids' schools, the teachers or principles invariably had to use a reprimanding tone of voice or threats in order to get the kids' attention. (So I wonder if over time they've actually got to escalate the intensity or ingenuity of harshness & threats just to get the same effect.)

The immediate sense I got over here is the same as what you've just said, that things run on mutual respect. They get respect from the kids by modeling it--not by TELLING them they'd better respect the teachers, or else.. They also respect the kids' ability to choose to do that which is least socially disruptive when the choice is spelt out to them, which works most of the time. And if they still insist on socially disruptive behavior it usually means they're acting out from some underlying issues that warrant further investigation anyway.

I guess with small student-to-staff ratio you can get this to work.

It's also true here that you're stuck with the same teacher for most class periods the entire schoolyear. I just asked my kid the other day and he said that what he's learning now is easier than what he learnt last year! My neighbor told me that the teacher he got last year was perhaps the most academically inclined in the whole school, and the Asian parents love him!

Over here there's a school-wide 'Recognition Assembly' every month and 2-3 kids from each class will be 'recognized' for anything they're good at, and every kid gets a turn. For example they can be recognized for being helpful to their table-mates, for putting effort into writing neater, for keeping a clean desk, or for being good at sharing. My kiddo was recognized in K for 'excellent reading skills' and in G1 for 'strong reading & writing skills'. I think he's about one of the few kids who are recognized for academic reasons--which figures, him being one of the few Asian kids there.

In my daughter's high-school Awards Night, there were 4 categories of awards given out, namely: Academic; Social Responsibility; Sports; Drama & performing arts.
Asian kids win the vast majority of the academic awards despite forming only maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the student body. I was telling hubby that if not for the 2nd, 3rd & 4th categories, the white kids would have very few awards to win!! I was proud that one of the top Social Responsibility awards was given to a pair of Japanese twins (but being Japanese, it kinda figures too, doesn't it?)


Lilian said...

Yes, they go to an American school.

In the UK, they had merit assembly every week, certificates are given for a variety of deeds/achievements/effort.

Over here however, they go to great pains to avoid comparison/competition amongst individuals, so no awards at all. Sporting achievements are celebrated but that's more like when the school wins something against other schools.

Of course the kids know who are the ones who are good in schoolwork, but nothing is quantified, there are no exams for your kid to benchmark himself against others. Even in the UK, you will only know the child's results in qualitative terms, and you won't know how he fared against others. All boils down to focussing on doing the best that you can; doesn't matter how others do.

In a way, this does emulate daily working life. There are no daily/weekly pats on the backs by the bosses telling you how well you are doing. You've gotta learn to motivate yourself without needing external approval all the time (in terms of awards etc).

And when the environment is relatively non-competitive and unthreatening, I think kids learn to really believe that teamwork is good. They actually enjoy working as a team. The emphasis is on the process, not wholly on the outcome. Brian told me that he rather enjoys working in a team. I asked him why, he said cos everyone has different things to contribute. Which is so true; while his classmates may not do so great 'academically', they may be more creative with their hands, or are able to come up with nifty computer work, or are always brimming with interesting ideas on how to present their findings, so they learn from one another. You then realise that exam-smarts really isn't everything and cliche as it may sound, everyone does have his own strengths.

So for the parent, it can be very unsettling that you don't know how your child is really doing vis-a-vis others. But for the kids, I think it will be good for them in the long run to not seek constant gratification in the form of awards/exam result standings/praises. Cos there are no semestral exams (with past 10-year series to practise on) at the workplace. What you have are daily challenges, often with no precedence, which you'll need self-motivation and help from others to overcome.

If you're always out to emerge as top dog at all cost, hoarding information or undermining others to look good yourself; it may work in some places (eg Singapore's civil service? oops), but for most places, I think you'll burn out really quickly working with a silo-mindset like that.

Anonymous said...

YY, I have a friend who comes back every summer, bringing her school going kids back home and putting them in the local system. They're in the American International School in Taipei the rest of the year. She told me how stumped she was when her son, who loves Creative Writing classes in school and would write pages in Taipei, would suddenly reduce his writing to the 1 page minimum here at the Creative Writing enrichment class she put him. And it was for the precise reason that you mention - he balked at the number of crossings and wrong spellings that was pointed out. She was stumped for a while as to which system was the better one - after all, she is Singaporean. But from the bigger perspective, it isn't difficult to realize - we don't read a book because it's written with perfect spelling and grammar. These days, any word editing software can do that (ok, there's only one left, but that's another story).

Lilian, interesting what you point out about Brian's school and that he loves it so much these days. So there are benefits, and the school does indeed have their own cunning ways of endearing themselves to the kids and bringing out in them a love of camaraderie and school. Add on the great teacher that he has this year and, in his words, Yow! I guess it'd be better if his school experience were system-dependent rather than teacher-dependent.

Perhaps you already have the best combination - a mix of after-schooling coupled with the easy going attitude of the school? A little more academic stress won't hurt the kids, I can hear you say. But it's hard to find perfection, and we have limited choices. Look at Singapore - we're Parental-Expectations-on-Steroids, and it is definitely not good!

BTW, I always enjoy Brian's work. He always comes across as a much older boy, given the quality and maturity of his work.

Alcovelet said...

YY and Lilian, These comments are great! I'm gonna steal these comments from you - Sorry YY, you're definitely going to be a guest in more than one blog!!

Lilian said...

Hi Anon: Is this your first time commenting? Or do we already know you :) Whatever it is, welcome aboard and thanks for your interesting comment.

Roald Dahl's BFG is peppered with spelling mistakes (intentional though they may be) but kids love the book, don't they? If you look at Dahl's writing, there aren't many huge words or fantastic imageries, just good, old, funny, actually rib-tickling, story-lines. Same with Enid Blyton whose books I loved as a kid.

My friend tells me she sends her girl to creative writing classes in Singapore and they are taught some long phrases to use in their compositions; my friend was very happy about this, saying that it works, makes the essay more interesting and meaty. Reminds me of when I had to prepare for my Bahasa Malaysia O level paper, memorised all kinds of phrases, even poems, to use; but that's cos I didn't read any Malay storybooks and hence couldn't really write well in that language. If a child reads lots, I think it will translate into a more natural style of writing, which doesn't feel forced. Or maybe it's because Singapore markers expect to see kids use big words and complicated imageries in order to give them good marks. I still subscribe to KISS (Keep it simple Stupid) when it comes to books, but that's just me, I switch off when an author is too cheem.

Thanks for your nice words about Brian, but he's far from mature when it comes to dealing with his little brother. And even in his writing, I think it's influenced a lot by the kind of books he reads (limited genre), fantasy adventure, Roald Dahl when he was younger, comics like Calvin & Hobbes, Tintin...not really very mature books :)

Anonymous said...

Dear anon,



Dear Lil, "So for the parent, it can be very unsettling that you don't know how your child is really doing vis-a-vis others."

Me not unsettled at all. Me blithely unaware of how my kiddo is doing vis-a-vis others, becos we have zero plans to come bk to Sgp.

I'm hesitant to even come bk for the 'summers' becos I dread what the crazy NS policy-arbitrators will decide about him next time. Apparently friends have been told that "oh, even though your kid left Sgp at age ?10 ?12, they have 'benefited from the Sgp system' (i.e. attended Sgp schools, used Sgp passport), so they have to serve NS, lor." WTF?? So it seems nobody is very clear about what age-of-leaving is 'safe' in terms of not-having to serve NS, but there is a 'spectrum' of obligation-to-NS depending on factors as varied as whether you've used polyclinic services, used the school system,.. and even the Sgp passport has been mentioned!


Lilian said...

"Parental-Expectations-On-Steroids" is really apt and very funny :) I think it's an Asian thing lah; see my mentality about "expect much, get much, expect little, get little".

YY, have you and your boy given up your Singapore citizenships? If you have, then they won't recall you for NS what. My boys will serve NS, whip their butts into shape :) Brian has flat feet though, dunno if he'll kena clerical work or what. I'm not too bothered about NS, I think it'll do my boys some good to toughen up, hopefully pick up some hokkien in the process hehe.

At the back of my mind, the prospect of returning to Singapore's education system is always very real; such is the nature of my husband's job, we gotta be prepared for anything. I've heard stories of some returning Singapore kids suffering in school and later blaming their parents for leaving Singapore in the first place. Ingrates! I'll smack my kids' heads hard if they dare turn around and say that to me.

But seriously, so many of you also went through the stressful system and you all turn out great, so something has to be said for the Sg education system. This morning, I asked Brian if reading all the mummies' comments here makes him worry about going back to Singapore schools; he said a little. I assured him he'd be fine. All I need to do is keep my kiasuism in check. I'm already resigned to it anyway, that tonnes of kids in Singapore are way ahead of mine, so that's a step forward in my rehabilitation from Parental-expectations-steroids :)

monlim said...

Too many things I want to say re: this topic, so will leave them for another post tomorrow.

Lilian, your kids won't suffer lah! They're way ahead, even of the gifted kids. And even if they're not, I volunteer to give you a smack if you get too kiasu :D

Alcovelet said...

Adoi, that was me (Anon II) lah. My Mac was all funny this morning - and I could have sworn I sent another reply about ripping both your comments for my own blog, but that didn't seem to show up!!

YY, if you'd like, you're welcome to my blog. I just need your email address. Safest way is to pass it to me though LIlian.

Lilian said...

haha Monica, you're so entrenched in the system you wouldn't even realise it if the steroids already seeped into your bloodstream!

Anyway, I'm very much an escapist, so while I'm kiasu, I also can't be too a*sed to compete with the crazees. Actually, I couldn't compete even if I wanted to.

I had a taste of the extreme kiasuism amongst parents when Brian was participating in Singapore chess tourneys and selected for the National Junior Squad (which looking back was just a brilliant marketing strategy by the chess academy to make parents spend $$$ on chess coaching!). Back then, in 2003/4, we heard of a hospital CEO who spent S$3k a month on chess coaching for his/her son, and the kid wasn't even that keen on the game. Very draining to be amongst these high-strung 'stage' parents, even if my kid can take it, I can't.

Lilian said...

Alcovelet: Oh it's youuuu...like so mysterious like that...

I don't even have YY's email lah, and she may not want to email us, she's in stealth mode remember? Best is to make your blog public lah hahaha!!! *evil cackle*

Alcovelet said...

THAT is truly evil ;).

monlim said...

*waves hands* Me entrenched in system! I freely admit that. But I not so kiasu lah, my kids still don't have tuition (except Chinese) and spending $3k on training? you must be mad.

Ok, I give YOU permission to smack me if I go overboard. how's that?

Lilian said...

Okay, it's a deal then :)

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who's an ex-Sgp-rean but who studied in a Canadian university made some interesting observations vis-a-vis the relative merits of Asian vs. western education.

He noted that whilst kids from Asian systems are mostly better prepared for the 1st year of U (given that their English proficiencies are good), this advantage starts to get obliterated by 2nd-3rd yr & most definitely by final yr.

The common observation at the graduate level--seemingly a cliche but nonetheless true--is that kids from western systems seem to work not half as hard as the Asian kids yet do just as well or better. And by final year the western kids have gone ahead of the Asian ones. Many have observed that the style of learning & output caught through the western system seems to be an advantage at the graduate level & higher.

Another reason can be that, since university entry is based on merit, those western kids who do make it are there not because they've worked just as hard as the Asian kids but because they are those who have an edge in academic giftedness which compensates for their lesser amount of hard work. So by graduate level, so long as they put in a bit of extra effort, they would outshine the Asian kids.

It has also been observed that whilst accelerated-early-learning can boost a child's IQ and give him a significant headstart in early years up to high-school level, this advantage becomes insignificant by the time they reach adulthood. (Ok lah, lazy mom's way of telling herself to 'relak', bro.. )

OK, will scoot off to bed IMMEDIATELY. Gotta babysit a 7-mth old tomorrow so must rest enough or else end up torturing self..


Lilian said...

I like how you spelt Relak, very Malaysian :) as in Relak-lah Brudder...or is that very Glenn & Rod?

Nitey-nite, sweet dreams of year-end exams :)

Lilian said...

"It has also been observed that whilst accelerated-early-learning can boost a child's IQ and give him a significant headstart in early years up to high-school level, this advantage becomes insignificant by the time they reach adulthood."

That significant headstart in early years is precisely why parents push their kids from young, cos like it or not, it's very much make or break for most by PSLE, isn't it?

bACk in GERMANY said...

Hey Lilian, I didn't think green was for go and red was for stop.
I once had a teacher who corrected with a pencil! How's that? :)
And for me... I grab whatever writing equipment I can lay my fingers on... just about anything... red, orange, purple, green, pencils, crayons... whatever lah...
Hmmm... gotta rethink this colour issue.

Ok... gotta go pick up kids. Will be back...

monlim said...

"That significant headstart in early years is precisely why parents push their kids from young, cos like it or not, it's very much make or break for most by PSLE, isn't it?"

No lah. PSLE is just cos everyone wants to get into the top schools. But doesn't mean not going to top school won't have good O level results and vice versa. I went to an average sec school and scored cos I was psyched that I could do well. Some kids get demotivated in a good school cos they're "nobody".

Lilian said...

Ya, we all know kids don't have to go to top schools to do well in O levels or in life. But if you really bochap PSLE, then you will not bother to re-think your holiday plans in L-A's PSLE year what :) The fact is, for many parents, they are just trying to give their kids a headstart to do well in PSLE, not even aiming for top schools.

Even among British parents here, they are definitely more gancheong than the American ones, cos their kids have the "11 plus" exams, something like our PSLEs. In fact, kids in UK trying to get into good secondary schools have it even worse, they need to take different entrance exams for different schools they are applying to. If you apply for 5 schools, you take 5 different exams.

On the other hand, the Americans can afford to relax and not bother about giving their kids that early headstart cos the important exams isn't till end of high school.

Not really complaining, cos there needs to be a way for good schools to pick their students, just stating the reality in Singapore and many Asian countries.

monlim said...

What I meant was it's not "make or break" by PSLE. Of course we still want our kids to try their darndest, doesn't mean we bochap, but it's not the end of the world even if don't do wonderfully.

I heard abt the UK system, super competitive.

Lilian said...

I think of "make or break" the way Jack Neo portrayed it in I not stupid. ie for some parents, it's between good schools vs average, but for others, the "make or break" is between express vs normal streams, or normal vs ITE.

Contrast this with Malaysia, where there is also an exam at P6 like PSLE, called the UPSR (I think). The difference is everyone in a particular primary school moves on to that secondary school (if it's a feeder) no matter what your results is. There is no express, normal, ITE labelling. Children being in the same school from primary to O levels is the norm, rather than the exception, as it is in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Lil: ""That significant headstart in early years is precisely why parents push their kids from young, cos like it or not, it's very much make or break for most by PSLE, isn't it?""

Alamak lah, you scaring me, man. I think this is the kind of sentiment that's rife amongst parents but which the MOE officially denies. Parents blame it on MOE but MOE blames it on parents. Look at the kids from technical institutes that the gahmen try to profile on some National Day Rally speech in recent years--officially they do want to correct society's notion that there's only that one track to success. But it's not like dat in Sgp only lah, but China (+ Taiwan + HK) & Korea & Japan who's also like dat. The Korean parents I meet here in Vancouver also same, same.

Everyone blame it on Confucius lah. Chicken n egg.

Acherly, I've done a lot of soul-searching since the horrid PSLE that nearly dismantled my painstakingly crafted rapport with my stepdaughter... I wonder if I & other Asian parents truly do it completely out of pure consideration for what's best for my kids or whether there's actually a lot of vanity involved.

I say vanity because in the Asian context my credence as a 'good wife & mother' is too enmeshed with my kids' success--which in Asian context inextricably means ACADEMIC success (i.e. unless the kids are able to prove they can make tons of money even if they don't make it to U, but until that happens, don't need to talk about anything else lah.)

It is indeed bad news for kids in this kind of culture that sec. school & JC entry is based on merit. That's why after my harrowing PSLE experience with my stepdaughter, I always tell my friends that if you want very much for your kid to get into a 'good' sec. school--firstly define what your idea of a 'good' sec. school is, then identify those schools and then get your kid into a primary school that is affiliated with one of these 'good' sec. schools.

[I mean a kind of 'affiliation' that will actually make a difference. For e.g. ACS or MGS or SCGS, maybe some others too. Don't talk about Nanyang--even with affiliation you still need, like >240 or 250 to get into Nanyang Girls' High. RGPS is NOT affiliated to RGS as far as I'm concerned--you don't get no leniency to get into RGS, the last I knew]

At least in this you DO have some measure of control. If you think it's that impt for your kid to get into a 'good' sec. school then do what you can to facilitate it while it is in your control. Don't wait till your kid is 10-- 12 before putting on him that expectation because it sure is a lot more difficult to have things the way you want it when it involves another individual with his own free will but who is at that age when they really 'don't know what's happening' and can totally NOT be counted upon to see things the way you do and there's very little you can do to cajole or coerce them if they're bent on their own minds.

I only found out after the fact that there's a category of developmental stage called 'pre-teens' which is distinct from childhood but not quite teenagers yet. And that happens to be in the crucial 'streaming' years of 10-12. Can be very testy. They start getting their own minds and... oh, you'll find out when you find out but I wish you'all better luck than me!

Having said all this, has anyone you read or watched the ‘Nanny Diaries’? The storyline partly portrays how upperclass parents in Upper Eastside Manhattan are super, super kiasu academically too and some engage expensive ‘educational consultants’ to strategize how their preschoolers can get into that elite school that all the family’s men or women have been to for generations… So I guess in western cultures there are also ‘hotspots’ of high-pressured expectations related to schools, but then it all exist within the societal ethos of ‘different strokes for different folks’ and you don’t have the whole state vying for those elite schools but perhaps mainly only the Upper Eastside Manhattanites. There’s just a large diversity of lifestyles & value-systems to choose from & people respect your right to your choice, provided what you do does not infringe upon another’s rights & privileges.

I wonder if the competitiveness in UK schools stem from a higher level of class consciousness in British society generally—in the sense that there IS this social hierachy that subtly but clearly makes a difference in a person’s life and which therefore exerts subtle pressure on people to want to ‘climb’ it. For instance they may want to get their kids into a certain school in order for them to network with kids from certain social stratas or to make sure they pick up the ‘right’ accents.

I remember that actor in ‘Lost’ who is of East Indian origin saying that although he was born & bred in Britain, he never felt that absence of class-consciousness in UK that he experienced after coming over to USA.

Btw, 'relak bro' for me is a 'Princism'. keke.


Lilian said...

Wakey-wakey aredi huh? Did you get a good night's sleep YY? You didn't dream you were back in Sg heading for the exam hall, did you? hehe.

Oh Princism, I had forgotten he liked using that phrase. I always remember his story about a guy called S.A.Tan, so corny.

Yes, we're probably scaring ourselves more than necessary. Sorry to all who are reading our exchange and getting depressed! Don't mind me, I'm just a pathological moaner, things are usually lots better than what I portray them to be. All for the sake of making conversation lah, else won't it be so boring, hunky-dory all the time?

"I say vanity because in the Asian context my credence as a 'good wife & mother' is too enmeshed with my kids' success--which in Asian context inextricably means ACADEMIC success (i.e. unless the kids are able to prove they can make tons of money even if they don't make it to U, but until that happens, don't need to talk about anything else lah.)"

Above so funny yet so true. And any Asian mummy who claims it's not true is (probably) lying.

Now then you know about pre-teens! I'm living that nightmare now. Just had a little drama about an hour ago. All good now, I did good tonight, really good. No one went to bed angry or resentful. And I didn't even have to refer to any parenting book! *wipes brow* Thank you GOD!

Anonymous said...

[…am typing this whilst baby I’m supposed to be ‘watching’ is intently watching the extremely enriching DVD called: ‘Baby Inklings—Alphabet Discovery’..]

Lil: “”Did you get a good night's sleep YY? You didn't dream you were back in Sg heading for the exam hall, did you? hehe.””

OMG, are you clairvoyant or sumthink?!?!!!

I experienced the ‘gift of knowledge’ operating first-hand when in the mid-90’s, I was attending FCBC & during one of their ‘spiritual-warfare workshops’, Pastor Lawrence Khong decided to pick me from the crowd to demonstrate this gift. He prayed a bit and then told me, amongst other things, that all my life I had been plagued by the ‘Fear of Exams’!!! (goodness, did I have that white-faced-pre-exams-look ALL the time?? It’s not like I wear coke-bottle glasses either; in fact I’m one of the rare exceptions in my Uni-class of not having to wear glasses..)

(ok for those of you a bit puzzled by some of the terminologies, that’s just church-jargon).

I’ll freely admit that till this day I still sometimes dream of having to cram for some exams. It’s really not nice reliving that experience but it’s real nice to wake up realizing that thank God IT’S ALL OVER!! J. OK listen-up MOE, see the kind of lingering trauma Sgp kids have? Any wonder why many high-flying pple end up being ‘quitters’ instead of ‘stayers’?? OK I know not everyone is similarly affected… Hubby for one never broke out a single drop of sweat over exams (which may be why he took like FOUR attempts before he cleared the B.C. driver’s license test! He thought of them no difft from driving lessons—cost the same, what. Wait, BETTER than lessons because he only listened to those people who had the power to ‘fail’ him!...)

OK, let me flesh-out my previous point about finding a pri. school that’s affiliated with a ‘desirable’ sec. school. My stepdaughter & her best friend went to Nanyang Pri together. But at P5, her best friend’s mom—-previously a teacher & therefore ‘in the know’—-by-hook-&-by-crook transferred her to MGS. So in the PSLE although the best friend got like 7—10 points lower than my stepdaughter, she got into MGS whilst my stepdaughter was assigned the ‘lowest’ of our 6 choices—a school whose intake was, like, easily 20 pts lower than stepdaughter’s score. (OK lah, we ‘overestimated’ & chose too ‘high’ for the 1st 5 choices). Come on man, MGS had been consistently the top 10 for ‘O’ levels and with very ‘average’ scores you can still get in if you’re from MGS Primary. No fair, man. Same goes for SCGS. These are sec. schools where there’s a big gap between ‘affiliated’ and ‘non-affiliated’ intakes, yet they still churn out pretty top ‘O’ level scores as a whole. (can anyone tell me if the situation is still the same). My experience told me that at age 12, many kids simply have not got those developmental skills yet to ‘focus’.


Lilian said...

"coke bottle glasses"! LOL! Thank God for high-index lenses :)

Actually, most of us have these stupid exam dreams. If it's not being late for exams, it's studying for the wrong paper. Strangely though, my exam nightmares are always about NUS days, never about my secondary exams in Malaysia. Why huh? Maybe it's not MOE, maybe it's the Singapore environment filled with high-achievers like many of you guys.

I know many Singaporeans who spent all day at the NUS central library, I mean all day okay. They only leave at night to go back home. And they even come on weekends, siao! Some ugly ones hide reference books in other shelves so others can't get to them.

Us hostelites don't even study till really near exam time; then you'll see study lamps turned on in every room. We are too busy participating in all kinds of activities to collect enough points to stay in the hostel the next year; better yet be a high-pointer so can have top choices of rooms (the ones that don't have afternoon sun, the ones that don't face other blocks). Where got time to go library?

monlim said...

Lilian, you brought back the really good memories of the hall! I remember everyone was so busy playing, no time to attend classes or study. In fact, whenever we saw a desk light on at 3am, we saw "poor thing, must be engineering student". haha! i did hall activities all day, went to bed at 3am, got up way after breakfast coupon expired, and went for class when I remembered or felt like it. That's how I got my wonderful no-sun, face grass patch room. And still topped my soci honours class what... so what pressure?? I think it was more pressuring trying to get a place in the hall than to do well in exams!

Lilian said...

You're right! Getting enough points to stay back was our main aim. Was loads of fun huh? All the good NUS memories were hostel-related. Going to bed at 3-4 am was definitely the norm, skipping lectures too. Wake up in time to hop to Arts Canteen for lunch. Forget about breakfast man. Supper was the highlight, either at Fong Seng or Temasek Hall.

I don't know how we all got through. In Year 1, Eddie was playing mahjong the night before his exams, granted it was a minor unit, but still; and his mahjong partners that night were 2nd years who already completed their exams!

I think I only really enjoyed my studies during Honours year, somehow being able to focus on the specific subjects I liked within Economics, eg International Trade, Money & Banking made learning more meaningful. The first 3 years I was really just muddling through, didn't understand most of my other major, Statistics (pure torture). The first year even more jialat, all the mathematical and economic terms I learnt in Malaysia were in Bahasa Malaysia! Every time I read the textbook, I had to re-read each line again, cos couldn't register! I still remember some of these terms: Investment = Pelaburan; Law of Diminishing Returns = Hukum Pulangan Bertambah Kurang; and for math, I remember asking Elyn (your fellow B-blocker) what pivot meant. The tutorial question was talking about a line pivoting on a graph and I had no idea what pivot was!

monlim said...

I lia bo kiu what you are saying. No wonder I'm the writer and you are the math-whiz mum...

Lilian said...

Haha, it's not you, it's me. I haven't taken breakfast, and the low sugar level is making me incoherent (excuses excuses) :)