Sunday, August 22, 2004

It's easy to be discouraged when our last medal hopes vanish into the elusive vapour that has always dogged us whenever we attempt to reach for athletic glory. To come so close, and then lose it all when at the last stretch it gets snatched away again. It's natural to wonder what went wrong, and to ask if we have actually set our sights too high, or if our hope is nothing more than a fool's cause.

The answer will be affirmative, if we let this setback prevent us from stretching out and attempting another grab at the next opportunity. If we no longer make another attempt, if we no longer do something to improve our reach next time around, then we are truly defeated. Then we can sit in the ashes and wait to die, and no one will care.

As far as Olympic table-tennis goes, considering the number of paddlers in the running (172 if you're counting, and roughly half that if you want to get picky) finishing 4th in the Olympics is already jaw-droppingly amazing. Celebrate the achievement and get over the disappointment, then let's take another swipe at it come 2008 -- and this time, the Sports School might be ready to field some new talent as well. 4 more years in personal time is an eternity, but to the national, collective will it's just barely breathing space to take stock and train harder and smarter before the next sally.

Also today, the new PM made his first NDay Rally Speech, and boy, did he have a lot to say.
  1. Old people worry that he will be a young people's PM, so we've got to take care of the old people too.
  2. The young people must be geared up and ready to take on the challenges that they will face when they go out to make a living and a life for themselves, so they must be educated to be intellectually sophisticated, physically resilient and psychologically flexible, to appreciate and participate in the cultures of others but in so doing keep their identity rooted at home here in S'pore, and to discover and pursue their individual niches because then they will carve out for themselves markets to exploit according to their own interests and abilities.
  3. That puts a lot of responsibility on their teachers because teaching kids to pass exams is the easy part of our profession. It's much harder to teach and be accepted if we have higher objectives for them. (Also, something I think PM missed: young people have to start believing that their work and what they achieve is for themselves, not for their parents, and certainly not for the 'government,' although how we're going to convince them of this is beyond me for now).
  4. Then if the new generation is for the young, then where are the young coming from if we don't have more kids today? Erm... 'nuff said about that for now.
A number of sacred cows killed tonight too, PM holding the sacrificial dagger himself. I'm most interested in the policy of the 5-day work week for the civil service. That's going to change a lot of our programmes and just the way we do things in the college, for sure. Will we really be able to let the students off from Saturday remedials, make-up lessons and CCA?

PM said we need to reduce our curriculum and homework quotas and give more time for the students to explore life outside their academic ivory towers, but that seems in direct conflict with what their parents and our paymasters want for them. Some students themselves are going to be upset about this too.

This one could potentially raise a stink and I hope it's handled properly. Worst case scenario is to give us all (staff and students) Saturday off and then require us to account for what we did to justify the off day. Messages from a well-meaning top get messed up in the middle and become nonsense when they implement their derivative policies with us bottom-dwellers. Let's see, shall we?

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