Friday, January 14, 2011


Mankies = Married, no kids. That's us and a rising number of our compatriots who will not contribute to the gene pool, barring 'accident'. If you have to question why, just look at the people who ARE parents to see what parenting is like these days. Such people are absolute saints, taking pains to patiently wait in line all night to register their bawling newborn on a waiting list to enroll in a 'good' kindergarten.

People like me can only gape in disbelief at such melodramatic displays of parental self-sacrifice for their offspring. But if that is what it takes to be a parent these days, it is painfully apparent that I am patently not fit to be a parent; and neither are my more rational fellow Mankies. Good luck with that, people who are parents!

Stick it in your ear!

I could have passed Chinese Oral had I the technology to do so. Now we have Google Translate. Trans-late? Yeah, by a few decades in my timeline.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Psycho mom, successful kids?

Here's another article about motivation, except this time it's about the extreme extrinsic motivation that apparently underpins Asian academic success. No doubt this method can bring an amazing level of success, but what worries me is that the range of activities considered success-worthy is terribly restrictive; and that parental approval is conditional to success within this limited field.

Whether the philosophy tends towards applying intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, the objective is the same: to kick-start the success-self-esteem cycle. The former seeks to build self-esteem which drives success, the latter mandates success to build self-esteem. Don't we just love our kids?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Studies in Chaos -- 1st grade

I believe there is a certain level of chaos in education. However, this first grade school experiment -- in going to the extremes with intrinsic motivation while eschewing extrinsic motivation -- takes a lot more guts to attempt than I have. (Ha! I don't even have the guts to teach first graders under normal circumstances, anyway)!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Overdue reconciliation

Haven't seen Yee in a while, but because a lot of misunderstanding was developing between his private teaching methods and ours, which seems to be confusing our mutual kids, my bosses and I gladly accepted his invitation to a sharing he was conducting about how he runs his after-school programme.

Based on the feedback (intentional or otherwise) from our students, we were worried that all he was teaching were exam-smart study shortcuts that helped kids achieve high grades, but shortchanged them on actual learning. We're glad to know after today's session that the methods he uses make sense, and are geared towards teaching GP as a lifeskill and not just as a gradeable subject taken by desperate kids willing to pay any amount to score a pass in an important national exam.

Why the problems have arisen is mainly because our kids go and seek help only at the tail-end of his programme. Having missed out on all the foundational work and practice from earlier in the year, they have little frame of reference to grasp what the less tardy kids are learning. Grasping at straws, they return to us confused, with enough little knowledge to be dangerous.

What I've learned today satisfies me that Yee and I are on very a similar path in the way we break down our teaching of paper 1 and 2 skills. We are both highly sensitive to contextual shifts and share a strong belief in the moral (or at least socially responsible) basis of decision-making that must be communicated as key to our subject mastery.

Above all, we both are acutely aware that GP is the one subject at JC that actually helps children grow into thinking, mature, responsible, learning adults with the necessary skills for surviving the huge intellectual leap required of them when they reach their next port-of-call, the Uni. And even if they don't make it there immediately, the same skills will carry them through life anyway.

Since we're on the same side, perhaps we could streamline our classroom jargon so that the kids know we are essentially teaching the same things, and not get confused by differences in our vocabulary. That way, we could complement rather than work against one another. It's in both our interests, after all, to have our kids do well and grow up equally well.