Thursday, August 31, 2006

The One about Teachers' Day (Part 2) edited

So teachers' day celebration came and went. On the whole, it was a yucky feeling. For me at least, for it was a quiet and largely ignored teacher day celebration. Fast forwarded, when people move at lightning speed, when conversations were engaged, and there I was sitting in the little cubicle I can call my workdesk as I ploughed laboriously on this entry.Lost was the feeling, Indifference is the attitude, and of course downcast was generally the mode of expression.

I was wondering why I can't feel anything. Maybe true to what my principal ask, "have you adjusted?" Yes maybe the hustle and bustle of stuff, the need to finish stuff at lightning speed, and to literally run rather than walk the pace. But sad to say, to the students, a firm no when it come to adjusting to them?

It was in the school culture that the students will write dedications to nominate the teachers they like as the most caring teacher for the year, and it will be painstakingly compiled by the admin staff into nice little folders with all the sheets of dedications. Kinda Teacher Idol. The one with the highest number of dedications will be the most caring teacher. I was very appreciative of what the admin staff do, and it was a painful reminder :P to say the least, how the students see you. With a pathetic number of 4 or 5 dedications, I must have been the feeling of a Gayle Nerva in SI 2006. And interestingly, it was the normal class which wrote the bulk of the measly 5 for me. It did warm my cold cold heart and got my spirit up from the depth of netherland. Likewise the thing where not even 1 from your form class do sum up my relationship with my class. I do not want to bear grudges, for I have to admit, investment to build up a relationship required both parties, and I seems to have this fatass inertia.

I shared at a causal gathering last nigh with a bunch of my new colleagues. I couldnt comprehend why is it that I could touch lives and make a difference in my previous school, where students in their Uni years now, send me congratulatory smses and gave me phone calls of concern, why is it that kids are comfortable enough to have opportunities to have lunch, dinner or tea with me. But yet in this new place, I have become just a education officer ( not a teacher). I read a book by John Maxwell "the 17 Indisputable laws of teamwork" and I remember particularly 1 episode which I read, where he mentioned sometimes a person can't perform in the environment was due to the fact that he/she is not a lousy player, he/she was just playing in the wrong team. Recounting this episode to my colleagues, I asked myself, could it be I have joined the wrong team?"

My wife once said that I have joined the right profession. Being narcissistic in a non-obsessive manner, I strive on recognition, external or internal. Motivation play a very important role for me. And it has to say, it is a sinking feeling today to say the least.

Sometimes I do understand that recently I have been showing too much of my vulnerabilities and idiosyncracies, to the people that I have loved, and people who loved and unloved or not even know me.. :P Unlike trisha, thatjedi, kelvin, who are shrouded in secrecy. I am literally foolishly brave, or bravely foolish to reveal myself ( call it narcissistic! :P)

Maybe things would be better next year. There will be a next year.

(PS I do miss the presents from the IJ girls, edible, inedible cookies, functional, dysfunctional pieces of art, beautiful words and sentences, I miss reading them.... Opps here I go again. :( )

(PS thank for the concern, but I am feeling much better now, the dinner I had with some of my new colleagues until 2 am in the morning was a good reliver.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The One about Teachers' Day

In another 9 hours time, I will be on my way to school for the Teachers' Day Celebrations
Maybe it is the fact that this is a new school for me, and I am only about 8 months into the full ritual of the school. Maybe it is the fact that I am so bogged down by things in school that I am not able to really focus on the emotional aspect os the students, the absence of quality time to bild bonds and of course the absence of any particular reason to do so.

Teacher's day will just be a day, a holiday of songs and dance, but I guess it will not touch my heart.

Maybe this view will change. who knows?
To me, I dont feel appreciated when I know that I have not invested in the relationship. Any overt show of gratitude to me is just a show.
Maybe I am cynical, maybe I am just cranky. Or Maybe it is just me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The One with the Save and Thrift

I guess for the next few months I got to start eating grass....
I have just signed up a 8 day tour package to Korea with Chan brothers. This will be like a second honeymoon for me and my wife

Skiing here I come... :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The One about Career Choices

Maybe it is the signs of burnout and fatigue. But recently I was actually wondering, what my life would have been if I have choose to do some other things than the "Calling"? In the profession for a good 6 years now, I asked myself when I was still that eager beaver, the never-say-die gungho attitude, with that willingness to do just about everything, anything, how would I have fare if I have chosen something else. How would my life be? Better or for the worst?

Actually i is bad to even contmeplate about other career choices when it is all about making life choices and sticking with it. Live life with zest and move forward with no regrets. But it would be interesting if I had actually done the following....

dreaming music..... smoke machines creating the misty effect and I am brought to 6 years ago where I have made my career choice..

"cut!" a voice boomed. "what the heck is all this... we will never be able to get that documentary on time.. Where is the assistant producer? I asked him to go and get the newscaster like an hour ago, don't tell me he lost his bloody way again. With a sweat drenched t shirt, and beads of perspiration, the assistant producer rushed to the director and apologie profusely, there was a mixup in the schedule and the newscaster so happen to be involved in another place for filming. His hands were still holding the packets of food for the production crew, while he faced the scolding from the producer for not getting the schedule. The rest fo the crew moaned and took the packets of food and found a shady corner for lunch.

The director lamented " aiyah, why you so blur one? Wei kwang, like that how to be promoted to producer...."

Poof back to reality, screaming at students does seems like a better option now... :P

Monday, August 21, 2006

The One about the weekend

To cap a lacklustre week, I had a miserable weekend. The routine of looking after Baby Vernice and the mad rush of marking the examination and test papers and of course my stupid comp had to die on me. I was actually hoping to edit all those video clips I have taken of Vernice and post it on her blog but the computer obviously had other plans. After 1 couple of abortive starts, I decided that it will be a waste of my time to continue and thus the lack of internet activity during the last 2 days.

It was not that bad though as I got to spend some time for myself on Saturday morning. Other than shopping for a present for my wife ( it is our dating anniversary tomorrow) I get to do what I enjoyed most, looking through the array of CDs on display and testing out the songs on the sound system.

This morning is going to be quite a day for me for I will be in class for almost the whole of the day. I am not really that excited about going into the class again, after what happen on friday. But then again a teacher got to do what a teacher got to do. Just like Superman, he pretty much have no choice....

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The one with that there is no failure, just feedback

A short 15 minute in a sec 3 class was enough to get my blood boiling. Sometimes I wondered if my threshold for masochism had reduced appreciably.

I am never someone who believe in completing syllabus for the sake of it and believe in my inner purpose of developing the whole self. I mentioned extensively about the things I believe strongly about the growth of a person and the meaning of life. And sometimes I do get cynical looks and comments but in general students are usually receptive. Maybe it is too much of the “good” thing and I find myself facing a crowd who were skeptical to the things that I said. I did not expect students to treat what I said as “gospel truth” but I was hoping that deep down I could touch hearts and got them thinking about things and about life in general. Maybe it is the intellect level, maybe it is the maturity level, but it was frustrating to say the least.

I wanted to set some work relating to self discovery - maybe it has nothing to do with the curriculum, maybe it has nothing to do with exams and Maybe it has nothing to do with them. In view of the cynicism, I erased my instructions on the board, the instructions for their weekend task. I retorted that if they feel that it doesn’t matter to them. They do not care about it, then I think it defeat the purpose of the exercise. I walked out of the class.

This was it....

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The One about a poem

The wind one brilliant day
Called to my soul
With an odor of jasmine

And the wind said
“In exchange for the odor of my jasmine
I would like to have all the odor of your roses.”

I replied,
“I have no roses, all the flowers in my garden are dead.”

And the wind said,
“I will take the withered petals and the yellow leaves.”

And the wind left…

And I wept!

And I said to my soul,
“what have you done with the garden that have been entrusted to you?”

Antonio Machado

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The One about NDP

so national day comes and goes....

Thankfully I did not show my over-zealousness by singing "we are singapore" out loud during the school national day parade, for there were as usual some hiccups here and there in the preparations. However I am glad to see the end of that for it means now I can finally settle down and deal with my core business - teaching and learning..

In fact I spend the entire ND catching up with my sleep and of course playing with my audiophile stuff. Got a couple of CDs - namely the soundtrack for the Pirates of the Carribean 2 , Jim Tomlinson "the lyrics" featuring Stacy Kent, Danny Chan (陳百強) Greatest Hits Collection ( SACD), Sissel" into Paradise". Actually buying the cds allow me to test out my sound system and it is always relaxing to lounge in my sofa and play the music in the background. I was doing some packing yesterday and found so many cds that I have bought. I almost forgotten that I have bought them. In fact I realise that this year I have gotten so many cds, maybe it is just an indication of the stress I have.

Anyway back to the theme of ND, as i look back at the past few years national day, it always seems to come and go. The extent that some of the people would go to get an NDP ticket or two is always a question beyond me. I am never a fan of the hot and sweltering heat, jammed packed like sardines in the National Stadium and I am ashamed to say I have never watch an NDP in its entirety. Sometme I do wondered, if I am really patroitic or such but I am always sad to say finding more interesting to do than plonking myself in front of the TV to watch the 2 hr plus proceedings. Guilty? maybe sometimes... But i really cant understand the fuss about it.

Seems like today rantings dont make much sense.... Sleep deprivation do have a funny way of influencing your thoughts and words.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The One about Questions about the Humanities

It was a-spur-in-the-moment thing. I was just teaching in my sec 3 class when I shared with the students when I started to share the importance of the humanities. In a society where traditional emphasis is on the EMS, it is no wonder that the Humanities teachers had the unenviable task of enthusing and motivating. Many colleagues teaching other disciplines green-eyed the freedom and flexibility that the Humanities teachers had; it was always a subject that was interesting, with stories, andecotes, with forms and features, with people and achievement, with forms and features, with crises and conflicts. However it is also a discipline which is regarded as the poorer cousin in terms of priority. I remember asking one of the DD during the Meet-the-DD session and I discreetly probe about the issue of increasing the emphasis of the humanities. I got a no-answer answer where he asserted that the very fact that it is considered in the L1R5 already suggested its importance, which of course got me thinking about the next issue - is a subject deemed as important if it is an examinable subject or is a subject emphasized deemed as important?

A colleague passionate about Geography shared with her students that "Geography is the master of all subjects"* She qualified this by highlighting the different aspect of the discipline which showed shades of the other subjects, whether it is maths, science, or even economics. Undeterred I continued my tirade with the class and told the kids that History do not claim to be the master of all subjects but rather it is the training of the mind - You understand the causes and effects, you comprehend the truths and untruths, you differentiated the different perspectives. These skills can be used for all disciplines.

Anyway in class, I told the kids that whatever they learn in humanities in terms of facts, sadly is not really that important (for my discipline to say the least) The most important thing is to find relevance and learning about yourself and to understand about life in its microcosm. I left the class leaving them with more questions. I told them to learn is to expand your horizon, to talk to people, to see, to observe and to listen. I told them that the type of person you are depend on:

1) the books you read
2) the movies you watch
3) the conversations you had and
4) the friends you made

Which of course lead to the last questions - how can one be human when one is oblivious to the humanities?

* In fact one of the students intepret it as the "mother of all subjects" and i countered that by saying history is the "grandfather of all subjects" :P

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The One about Gratitude

My previous entry apparently struck a chord among many of my ex students who had hear me religiously proselytizing about this quality that I held so dear. Many students would remember the "lectures" I gave during those "teachable moments" to reinforce this. I am saying the one quality which I believe will define a great man from a good man - "Gratitude". Sorry if I do sound deterministic at times like this, but this is one trait which I hold strongly in my beliefs. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to get this mail in my email mailbox this morning when I logon.

Now I would shamelessly quote from the mail.

"hello mr ng,

i havent gotten a chance to speak to you much since a very long time.even though we had the bbq,there was no much chance for me to talk to you and stuff.that explains this rather sudden email doesnt it.

so i was just wondering what you were up to in your new school,new environment,new kids and of cause no more nonsensical ij your blog and while reading your most recent post,i thought of something you taught us in sec 3 - one which stayed in my heart this long.
you once wrote on the board "gratitude" and told us that that was the most important word so on and so forth.and i was just thinkin bout it.

i dont know if you know but i was asked to go back to ij for honor's day'06 where i received,well my prize for coming in first for my combined humanities.i had always wanted to message you before to thank you and to inform you that i was goin back and things like that but the hectic jc life never gave me a chance to.i guess i shldnt blame whatever jc life or anything cause i know for sure that if i had really wanted to there wld have been enough time for me to squeeze out abit of time out of my busy schedule to message you or something.i know this mail is a little late,afterall honors day is already over and things like that but i just wanted to thank you for all that you have done in terms of my academics,you were there and tried your best as a history cum social studies teacher,making sure that your students got whatever skills that they needed in order to face any kind of questions during an examination!(though i remember that for a certain exam there was a certain question that was an attempt of phrasing it cheem but faild thus causing everyone to misinterprete the qs!haha) anyhow back to this,and i probably have never said this before, but you were the best form tcher a class could ever asked for. it was good to be able to be in your form class and at times work 'hand in hand' with you as the class chair.thank you for all that you gave to the class, made everything so memorable.

not only were you there as a teacher, you were there as a friend and a mentor. giving valuable advice whenever we needed it. the difference between a secondary school tcher and a jc tcher is that the secondary school tcher cares alot more for you then the ones in jc.haha. its true. but o wells. thanks again mr ng for everything. from sec 3 and sharing the "white monkey' joke with us to going through sec 3 adventure camp, parent tcher meeting, mid years then final years, the whole gruelling sec 4 year, preparing us for the o's as a amaths,history,social studies tcher and a mentor cum friend, to the sec 4 self awareness camp, mid years and finally the o's. encouraging us constantly and giving us your full support. thank you for having faith in us! we got through it together as a class.

yes gratitude is one important word.
thank you mr ng for the many things you have done for us. it will definitely not be forgotten!

hope you're doing fine now,
take care.
god bless!"

Hi amanda
It was nice to hear from you even though I am no longer in IJ. I apologise for not being there as a form teacher to award you with the prize for it would seem so inappropriate, even though deep down inside I would love to just hand the prize over to you. I am definitely surprised that my personal mantra of life would one day be an impact in some way or another to my students. Ye gratitude is indeed something important and I am thankful for the honour to be a part of your life which you felt significant and memorable and I am glad that I have in some way or another be a part of it. I am happy that all the Sec 4/4 have move on to your new phase of your education. Deep down inside, I do miss those times in class when all the class antics never fail to amaze/frustrate/anger/please me.

Thank you for the kind reminder of what I am here for.

Mr Ng
Sometimes I just hate myself for being so sentimental :(