Sunday, July 26, 2009

RIP Yasmin Ahmad

Was really sad to hear news of the passing of acclaimed Malaysian film director Yasmin Ahmad. She was just 51.

Many of her movies/ads touch on tolerance and acceptance of race, religion and class, and that often pitted her against the religious conservatives in Malaysia.

Here are some of the adverts she directed for Petronas.

My rough translation of the subtitles for those who don't know Malay and Hokkien.

Ah Hoon, have not seen your children in a long time.
My children? Very busy, too much work. My daughter is a lawyer.
I told you, that's the best, having one son and one daughter.
And your son?
He ah...very very busy. His company sells Ling Zhi...He does business with many governments...
The US, Hongkong...he even knows Andy Lau.
Andy Lau...Andy Lau.
He bought a new house in Damansara.
Damansara, not bad, not bad. Good, good.
Better than my son.
He's a doctor in London.
A specialist. In...what's that...cardiology.
He is really 'clever' at earning money.
So clever ah?
What about your daughter?
She's always terribly busy every time I call her.
She works in this very famous Audit firm. Really, really famous firm. I can't remember the name but...
She earns RM450,000 in a year.
Ya lah, ya lah, my son, for each operation, he earns 20000 pounds!
Each day, he operates twice.
Eng, what about your son?
My son? My son's well. He's coming to pick me up.
Pick you up?
Ya lah, very troublesome, everywhere he goes, he wants to take me along.
Eh, who's here?
My son is here. Bye, I'm off.
Mother, how are you?
I'm well.
Mum, we're going to Cameron Highlands today.
Cameron? It's very cold there.

A Family's Love, the best gift of all. Happy Chinese New Year.

And my favourite one here.

In her blog profile, she says, "I am optimistic and sentimental to the point of being annoying, especially to people who think that being cynical and cold is cool. Everyday, I thank Allah for everyday things like the ability to breathe, the ability to love, the ability to laugh, and the ability to eat and drink." I find her such an inspiration.

Rest in peace Yasmin Ahmad, you will be missed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sean's directorial debut

On the last day of school, Sean's teacher sent home a cd filled with photos and videos of Sean and his classmates. Amongst these I found a video of Sean and two of his classmates Megan and Nur. It's a skit from their Unit of Inquiry on Light. Here, the three of them are demonstrating the importance of sun's light to life. Sean said he came up with the idea and he and his friends rehearsed the skit for a few minutes.

Sean is a herbivore eating a plant (Megan). When the sun (Nur) dies, the plant dies, and Sean the herbivore goes "Help me" before it dies too. I told Sean it was really apt that Nur is the sun because the word Nur actually means Light in Arabic. When I asked Sean why he chose to be the herbivore, his reply was, "My population gets to last the longest." How self-serving!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pi up to 200

After a long hiatus, Sean gets back on track in reciting pi, and this week he got up to 200 decimal places (there were some easy patterns in the last 25 digits). Somewhere near the beginning, there's a 'farting' sound, rest assured it wasn't either of us doing the deed, I think that was the sound of one of us moving our chair.

Reciting it slowly makes him forget the numbers, he says. He usually recites it so fast that I can barely tell if he got all the numbers right, but here he slows it down a little, and recites 200 places of pi in just under a minute.

Pi up to 200 decimal places:


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

South Australian Spelling Test

I saw this South Australian Spelling Test for children 6-16 on my Google reader and decided to let Sean try it. There are two tests, A and B, and the words on this spelling achievement test can be found here.

For Test A, Sean's score was 56/70 and for Test B it was 60/70. I'm not sure if I interpreted the tables correctly, but this puts his spelling age at 16+ for both tests (2004 norms for 10,000 Australian children). The ceiling for Test A was 54 and the ceiling for Test B was 58, ie the spelling ages don't go beyond 16 years. And of course for such tests, kids don't get to see the spelling list beforehand.

How he spelt some of the missed words were quite funny.

For Test A, the 14 missed words were:
12. Of (Off)
43. Appreciate (Appreicate)
45. Enthusiastic (Anthusiastic)
49. Sufficient (Sufficeint)
50. Surplus (Serplus)
54. Cemetery (Summatry)
56. Fraternally (Freternally)
57. Successful (Sucsessful)
51. Customary (Customery)
61. Mortgage (Morgage)
63. Subterranean (Subtaranian)
65. Miscellaneous (Miscanalleous)
68. Embarrassing (Embarrasing)
69. Conscientious (Conseancious)

Test B was easier and he missed just 10 words
48. Efficient (Effeicient)
51. Acceptable (Exceptable)
52. Equipment (Equippment)
53. Choir (Quire)
57. Assessment (Acessment)
58. Adolescence (Adolecence)
59. Casualty (Causualty)
62. Exemplary (Examplery)
67. Proprietor (Propryoter)
69. Excruciating (Excrutiating)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Most ON Teacher Award!...

...has got to go to Sean's form teacher, Ms T. Today's a school holiday (Youth Day yesterday) so I assume teachers are on holiday too. At 10+ in the morning, I received a call from Ms T. She listed out all the items that Sean needs to bring in tomorrow. She probably realises I'm not the most conscientious person, as I am still sorting out all the things that Sean needs for school. I felt like a kid, cos she was reminding me, don't forget this, don't forget that, and also this, and that :) It's really kind and thoughtful of her cos she knows that Sean's mini-meltdowns usually occur when he finds out that he doesn't have the items that his classmates have.

She was really positive about Sean, saying I have to give him a pat on the back about something, and how well he's doing considering he's been in school for just 5 days. She was confident that he'll get much better as days go by and he learns more about how everything is done.

Whenever I mentioned something negative about Sean, she'll counter it by saying, aiyah, bad handwriting? You haven't seen how bad other kids' handwriting is. When I said, sorry, he hasn't had much practice with doing real work in school, cos in Moscow, his school is play play all day, she replies, yes, you see, play play is also good, very good. Really positive vibes I get from her. She did add that in future, I'll have to teach Sean to fight back cos there are 'wicked' kids around :) LOL! I said my kids won't know how to fight back, the only thing they can do is ignore. "Ohhh, but you have to teach him how to fight back..." "How?" "That you cannot ask me lah, you have to find out yourself." Just too funny.

Have I been away too long? I don't remember Brian's teachers in Singapore being so ON and positive. In fact, Brian's P1 teacher (in another Singapore school), during our parent-teacher-meeting, was going all out to find something negative to say about him, maybe to sound constructive (NOT!), "You can see his results for yourself, I have nothing much to say, everything's very good." *silence*...followed by, "But hor, he's very messy hor?..."

So is Ms T the exception or the rule these days? Singapore's education system is highly stressful, so it is really a blessing (and a huge relief to me) that Sean was placed with such a dedicated and understanding teacher. Thank You GOD!!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Surviving Singapore School Week 1

Picture above was taken on Monday, right after Sean's first day at his Singapore school. Sean left Singapore when he was 2 and has never been to any school or enrichment programme in Singapore. He's been to a German pre-school, a Montessori school in London, a British prep school and in Moscow, an IB international school.

I can't quite believe it but the little fella survived a whole week in school. Because of H1N1, my promise to him to be in school for him the first week couldn't be fulfilled. I was not allowed to hang around in school, in fact, he was whisked away from me the morning of the first day and I didn't see him again till school was over.

Every single day of his first week, he cried in school, for various reasons, mostly when he feels lost and doesn't know what to do. Thankfully, the frequency of his mini-meltdowns dropped from as high as 3-times a day to a low of just once by Friday.

I have to say I've been mighty impressed by how committed the boys' teachers are. On Monday, Sean's teacher contacted me and said she felt so sorry that Sean was crying, and that she had only known he was joining her class that very morning. She also wanted to know Sean's ability level so she could provide the appropriate challenge for him. And even after talking to her, she still wanted to meet me the next day, explaining that it would be good for Sean if I walked him to the classroom myself and stayed for a while so he'll feel better. Very thoughtful, methought. She seems like a very firm teacher who understands little boys well.

The teacher assured me that he'll be much better as he gets to know the routine and the school better. True enough, by mid-week, he had already told the teacher he did not need his buddy to take him to the toilet. By Friday, he went to his day-end meeting place with Brian by himself too. The school is really big and the walk from his class to the meeting place is quite confusing, so I think he's finally got his bearings right.

On Thursday, she called me again, assuring me that things are progressing well and also to provide me some other information. She started the conversation with this, "Your son is very cute...At 1230, he comes to me and says, Can I go home now...? I'm tired." So typical Sean! He seems very comfortable with her, and she says he asks her lots of questions. For now, he's still eager to go to school and is always up by 6am, well before me and Brian drag ourselves out of bed, on a couple of days he woke up even before my mum!

Brian's English teacher too called me on Monday, to introduce herself, to find out more about him and to let me know what she'd be doing this term. She sounded young, enthusiastic and speaks excellent English (it's not a given that Singapore English teachers speak the language well). She later emailed me a bunch of powerpoint slides and documents she had sent earlier in the year to parents.

While Sean has little to no homework, Brian's been doing tonnes of homework daily. We did manage to sneak in a movie outing on Thursday afternoon, but with swimming lessons and Chinese tuition slotted into his busy week as well, it was only after school on Friday that he finally had a breather to play his guitar.

What a world of difference from schooling overseas. We're chugging along fine for now. Fingers' crossed for a better week ahead. At least there are just 4 days, so in my books, that's already 20% better :)