Saturday, April 16, 2005

Things that pop up…

The issue of respect
A lot of people believe that the intangible entity known as “respect” is an interesting commodity; it is something that has to be earned. I was in a class talking to them about the concept of gratitude and respect and of course in half jest half serious manner I told them that the very fact we are right in front of them teaching already warrant respect. Come on we didn’t go through our 10-14 years of education for nothing. As all my students know, I am peeved by students who walked past a teacher without the decency of greeting. It is like we-are-not-there-thank you!-get-lost attitude of the students which irks me more than anything. As a civil servant who would refraint from using violence and profanities I must say that something it is really way over the limits. Imagine going to class with a funeral procession who greet you like something bad had happen and it could somehow get the idea.

TV educational Programmes
As a teacher, I seldom watch the TV with the exception of a couple of programmes. Teachers generally have no life. Show such as the English premier League and of course the occasional brutal but yet highly entertaining soap-operasy WWE. It is of course no surprise that I am a loyal subscriber of SCV sports channels. But recently I discover that there was another channel which was really fascinating. It was like an information floodgate for me. It was however ironic that I only got to discover what interesting programmes it got to offer after almost 1 and a half year of subscribing. But then again teachers are busy animals with little social life and either type away or mark away their mere existence. Forgive me for being really sore about this, but most of you would know by now the gripes of teaching. In fact if you are still bent on teaching, you are either 1) crazy or 2) idealistic or 3) a mixture of both.

Sorry for the digression but I was talking about this interesting programme on Discovery Channel which I was watching on a lazy Sunday morning ( I was feeling pretty lazy then) It was about a group of suicide bombers from Chechnya which hold a group of 900 odd Russians hostages in an opera house. The stalemate went on for about 3 days and at the end the Russians had to use extreme measures to get the hostages out. The programme revealed insidestories and interview with the rescued hostages and the negotiators. It also documented the way that the Russian FSB (The newer unit to replace the KGB, the Russian Secret Police) dug a small passageway from underneath the theatre to get to the hostages. At the end the mission was a success (the suicide bombers were killed) but the rescue mission was a big failure ( 100 odd hostages were killed in the mission) It seems that the FSB used an gas commonly used for people with terminal cancer to numb the senses and attack the neuro-system. After they were evacuated from the building, the hostages were being dragged out of the building without proper medical care as the ambulances were too far away parked at some corner. Some for the hostages died of suffocation and lack of medication; as the medication were only given to the FSB. What was revealed shockingly was the people unhappiness at Russian President Putin’s unwillingness to negotiate with the terrorists, clearly showing that he was willing to give up lives to ensure political control in Chechnya and this put the President in a very bad light.

The MOE Screw up and the P speech
I cannot how screw up the MOE can be when they decided to turn things around by reverting back to the original system. For those who don’t know what I am talking about, I am referring to the change of the admission programmes to the JCs. The Prelim results now counts! I was sitting during assembly when the P announced this to the Sec 4s. Always priding my short hand and typing ability I did a summarized version of what she say, littered with my own comments. It was an inspiring speech but the response was insipid. Maybe it was the afternoon heat in the furnace liked school hall or the simple sense of resignation…

the speech
You have to treasure the June holidays now that the schedule is pushed forward again. Always work with the premise that you have less time. So sec 4s, I know this have kind of upsetted some of you especially those who want to go to a good JC. Many students realize that they cannot get into the good JC because they could not go to JC. Last year was an anomaly. What you need to do now is to start preparing. Do you know one thing, an analysis of the performances of last year, the key issue is that there is a class which perpetually underperformed for the past . as a class you may be setting yourselves up to be an under-performer. You learn better, you understand your work best when you have to teach it, so don’t withhold. What are we going to do together as a class. If you have the same mindset, you will achieve. So you think about it. Individually I can’t make a difference, a little bit of yeast can make a bread rise. So check your attitude, because you are now laying the foundations. Wat is the rationale, because they are hoping to release the O level results earlier. What that means is that possibly… only possibly the exams going to start earlier!!!!! Which means that you will going to be working much earlier and harder!!! So work consistently throughout the whole year, and next year will be a breeze. Let’s work on the premise that it is going to happen next year. Remember everyone in Singapore is going to be affected. The question is who is stronger up here (in the brain). This is a test of your mental strength.

Inspiring huh? I guess the MOE had been getting a lot of bad reviews, with the types of teachers and the workload and stuff. I also have to make perhaps this unkind comment that the teachers that are coming in , the quality had been declining. They can’t push themselves as hard as the “older ones” and worse they seems to be less proficient in their content and they seems to be lacking in their interpersonal skills such as handling students ad parents. I do know that all this come with experience but I am worried that are we really scrapping the bottom of the barrels. What is going to happen if the teachers that are coming into the profession are going to be worse every batch, that they will need to do the O level paper before admission. Can we then trust our future generation to them or are we going to start recruit foreign talents… Hm an angmoh teaching European history, that would be a novelty? Don’t you think?

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