Saturday, April 09, 2011

Teach less doesn't mean teach less

When we take the idea of "Teach Less, Learn More" too literally, we get the idea that there is some kind of reduction in the curriculum and that what schools were once meant to teach now becomes the burden of parents, and as a result, "slack" teaching staff.

Actually "Teach Less" doesn't mean teach less, in the sense of less content, less curriculum, i.e., less quantity. What it does mean is to stop being so full of ourselves and teaching the way teachers think they should teach, but instead look at the specific needs of our learners and teach the way our learners learn best.

The call is out for teachers to be less pedantic, less didactic and to put an end to filling our classroom time with inane teacher talk (a sin I'm quite guilty of, ha ha), and learn ourselves to be quiet, listen to what our students have to offer, give space for them to work. In other words, we teach not as authoritative, top-down "Teachers" but be fellow learners with our students, co-involved in constructing a community of learning.

This philosophy may be more difficult at some of the younger levels. It's hard to be a fellow learner if your fellow students are a bunch of 40 juvenile monkeys going stir-crazy in a crammed classroom eight hours a day. And with kids, it's important to show them who's Boss and instill in them a healthy respect (fear works too, apparently) for learning.

But at higher levels, it becomes necessary for the kids to start learning on their own. That's the time to let go and apply TLLM -- gradually.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Upgrade mania

The PM's taking flak from disgruntled e-authors over a shoot-from-the-hip response to a sensitive question posed by a young voter. What the PM said was tantamount to a bare-faced statement that wards represented by the majority party get priority when it comes to estate uprgading programmes. The implication that there is bias in assigning who gets to stand at the head of the line for the "good things" rankles an electorate that believes in the Democracy of its political system.

I wonder if I could spin a more politic reply to the question on why a non-majority ward looks rather shabbier than the majority ward next door...?

"Young man, I fully sympathize with your situation. Estate upgrading is a right of every constituency regardless of representation. Bright and shiny new covered walkways, bus stops and elevator upgrades are in high demand in all constituencies and everyone has the right to expect them.

But because they take time to complete, we can't upgrade everyone all at once. Thus, at least some estates can remain conveniently functional while others have to live with the inconvenience of dust, noise and odd detours as they undergo upgrading. Upgrades also cost a lot of money, so we have to even out the costs over time rather than spend everything in one lump sum.

As to why your estate seems to be lagging behind your neighbours', I assure you it isn't so. However, your constituency stood behind your representative's platform of less stress, slower pace of life and above all, lower cost of living. Thus it's logical that being the most frugal of voters, your constituency is the one most willing to put up with a slightly shabbier appearance for a little while longer than the others. Even if they don't look too glitzy and ultra-modern right now, it'll be a shame to replace your current facilities when they are still functional, still good, anyway.

There's no need to stress ourselves and rush things. See? Everything Singaporean voters want, no matter who represents you, your Government has already provided you with. I know you can be patient. When your facilities really need upgrading, the funds will definitely be there for you. :)"

Can I write the King's Speech, or what?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Japan is dumping radioactive water into the sea? I envision boatloads of comic-book fanboys crowding Japanese beaches, hoping to get bitten or stung by an irradiated sea-critter, thus gaining powers beyond the ken of mortal men.

Ooh, what's the number for the Japanese tourism agency?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

It's dead, Jim

It's done. Officially killed NYeDC's IFD performance, which during last night's rehearsal started to take shape, but still not enough to be fully developed by Thursday. However, there's no stopping this show from proceeding at another special time of the year with a more compatible theme.

Edit 01:
If ever a political party needed an image consultant! What's with the NSP's uniform? The bright orange colour reminds me of US correctional facility inmates' coveralls:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Whoa, Nelly!

Once in a while, you have to rein back the kids' enthusiasm and give them a reality check. NYeDC jumped headlong into agreeing to stage an item for the upcoming IFD assembly programme while we're already neck deep in Drama Night rehearsals. If they'd let me look at the script they chose earlier, I would have said there's nothing in there remotely indicative of either "International" or "Friendship" without a serious reworking of its original intention. Not that we haven't done anything like that before, but this one especially would have taken time, certainly more than the two days remaining till curtain.

Now considering very carefully whether to do the unthinkable and pull the plug on this performance. Usually, my approach is that the show must go on, but this one...?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Among the cats

Two plush pups are what we brought back from our visit to Mdm Wong's Shelter for strays. Each plushie is worth a $10 donation towards the upkeep of the numerous dog and cat residents there.

We were supposed to partake in the open house tour this morning, but took a detour into the cattery before our group could even form up -- and spent our whole visit among the Purring Ones. The tour organizer must have wondered where his two prodigals had disappeared to.

I never knew cats could be so deprived of human affection. In every enclosure we entered, we were swarmed by cats rubbing up against our legs and meowing to be stroked and petted. No, they weren't after food or water 'cos they had that a-plenty in large plates already, just a friendly voice and a gentle hand to make them happy. And, boy, were our hands busy as cat after cat got its share of mussin' and fussin'.

A particular kitten in a cage was particularly memorable because it was so adorable. Bright-faced, striped on the back, and spotted on the belly, but sadly crippled in the hind legs. Such a feisty little monster, nonetheless, as it acted up for our attention, actually climbing the bars of his cage despite having back legs that wouldn't support it. Silly thing reached out and grabbed my finger when I wasn't looking. It sank a tiny, tiny claw beneath my skin, drawing a drop of blood. Is that cute, or what? With that kind of spirit, and Mdm Wong's care, I believe it'll regain the use of its legs again soon. Then the world better beware!

Thinking of swinging by again one of these weekends to drop off supplies and pay the inmates another visit. Any other animal-lovin' human being wanna make the trip to Pasir Ris with us?