Thursday, December 08, 2011

What my horoscope says...

Have not read the hardcopy "My Paper" for a long time... especially since I started to read from my iPad.
Well, these 2 days, picked up a copy... and the last thing to read was usually the horoscope.

While I don't dwell into horoscope "predictions", sometimes reading it could be fun... and can give us a good laugh. Interesting, the 'predictions'/ advice put up these 2 days were something that I can get connected to...

I was reading the 1st one (on the left) on my way to the new campus for the first time from home... it said,
I think the first part applies to... basically anyone who's toying with the idea of finding a better working place. Indeed, I think, each time a change of work environment is a risk... to some, it's to leave behind the unpleasant feelings and experiences in the previous context; while some think there's little potential for the current work environment to meet one's ideal or what one is seeking. Of course, it's not as simple as just the "self". The "push" factor is another critical element, that many a time not because of the nature of work in the organisation, but human relationships, especially when there are those who tried to take advantage of others t gain - ok, the irresponsibile human beings which can be pretty common; worst still, the unlucky ones may even have to work with the unscrupulous ones (though it's not common), Look around... sometimes we have to count our blessings 'cos we are not 'stuck' to these people and we can exercise our choices... but organisations might not be able to count their 'blessings' 'cos they got stuck (for whatever reasons).

So, back to the horoscope says, if one is toying with the idea of leaving because one is trying to escape from his/her own problem, then good to think through more thoroughly. Is the problem on you? or on the organisation? or from the 'troublemakers' around you? or (looking at it more positively...) if it's for better venture & opportunity? Hm... If the reason to leave was because the problem was on us, then the problem will basically follow us...

This is pretty encouraging... especially at times when already very drained and tired... and started asking ourselves, why work so hard? why so much challenges ahead... Hm... yes, as I said, in one of those reflection sessions recently, while we 'cheong', do look back and do some stock taking... then we know how much we had done, what we are capable of... :)

Young children...

Reading this article reminded me of what I saw in the ladies' restroom at Raffles City last weekend... in front of the full lenght mirror was a mother who's in her late twenties, with her little daughter of age around three, donned in a pretty dress. What caught my attention was, "Girl, come, let mummy apply the lipstick for you."
What??? that was my reaction. The girl stood there patiently why the mother swipped the lip pencil around the tiny lips.

Not sure if'it's part of her 'groomy' process... but isn't it a bit too young to have all these chemicals started going on her? Hm...

Of course, the next question... are parents, especially mothers, putting their dreams and hopes on their kids and started to 'translate' their dreams to 'reality' through what they do on their childrem?

That's their kids' childhood? Hm... I wonder...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our Firsts in SST...

Nowadays, we hardly print our Notes of Meetings... and this file came to sight as I was packing the stuff for this December 'house-moving'. It was clearly labelled the EXCO meetings NOMs, which in fact, had all the old documents being filed, including our very first NOM in 2008, as well as the SOPs for school's milestones in the infantry stage. The file was one of those that I used while still in HQ - yes, one of those brown paper file that I used while still with ETD in 2008... and at that point, I was "moonlighting" at SST. Well, took pictures of these before shredding those documents. Indeed, quite a lot of flashbacks...

Here's the very first EXCO meeting, with the first EXCO team, 'expanded' from the 2-men village. Oh yes, I remember Mr Chua liked saying, that's all he had in the 'village' (and in fact, all were not officially with the school yet). Shall I say, it's the actual pioneer team? Hm... How many still around...
Despite of having to put in lots of hard work and having experienced many ups and downs... I must admit, it's a very enriching experience which I personally gained a lot of insights along the way while I also have contributed significantly to the foundation years of the school. I'm still very proud being a member of this team :)

The first milestone we had, on 3 March, exactly one year that the school was announced by form Education Minister, Mr Tharman. It's the MOU with NTU and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which binds the 3 institutions more closely. Oh yes, it's also the first time I took up the role of the emcee of such important event. Haha... Thanks to my buddy Ching Ya who got me out of my shell :) Thanks for the encouragement too!

Here's another milestone when we did our first outreach at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, that we engaged a few hundreds of the curious and enthusiastic P6 students, and I'm sure a number of our pioneers participated in this event.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


At last, done with the "last" intensive of the course that started since July 2010. I guess, without the encouragement of friends around, I would not be able to see myself come the long way here. Like what Prof Tania told me, she saw the change... haha... oh yes... become more outspoken in class, since she saw me through 3 of the modules. Thanks... yes, it's a good observation which would have went unnoticed by many of my teachers since those old school days!

I think one of the things I 'give back' to the course is being an encouraging and helpful classmate to some... Indeed, I think I'm just leveraging on my forte to put forward a helping hand. It's a joy to be able to help. I believe that there isn't any competition in this course. The only competitor is ourself. Hence it's largely depending oneself how we perceive the entire "game".

But I'm really very glad that I'm able to put forth a helping hand for someone in the very last intensive session. Cheers!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


3 different facial expressions, yet 'selling' the same service. Interesting approach, when purpose of the advertisement was trying zoom into "what if you are not using our service... you may experience the following..." Haha.. clevery right?

Now, examine their expressions carefully... What's the common theme/ chartristics?
Are you able to tell what services is the  company trying to sell?

Book Shelf Wallpaper

Was packing my book shelf... indeed, from far, the books become a nice wall paper :)

While I like to openly 'declare' that I "buy & shelf".
However, when it comes to doing paper work, these resources become very handy :)
Haha... good for someone like me who's the last minute worker.

Doll & Bears

A beautful doll from Lee Cherh :)

Did not realise that the 2 bears (received at 2 different occasions) put on the similar clothes :)
So, do they belong to the same family?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Transformation...

Well... While the term has come to an end, it's also time for us to close the curtain in this campus that many of us put in our utmost effort and energy in the infant years of the school... since October, we've started our packing, bit by bit...



Click HERE to see more pictures

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just let your fingers fiddle around

Was chatting with a friend about learning (er... more like catching up with) new technology.

I was describing what my 19-month old nephew could do with the iPad... recognising where the apps were placed and opening his choice apps; retrieving his favourite Youtube videoclips and moving the apps all over the place; and even making 'facetime' calls! And better still, how he had removed my Apps Store icon despite the fact that I had deactivated the install/ uninstall feature! Haha... Thanks to friends around who offered me tips to retrieve that icon!

Oh yes, that's a digital native in action! And each time I watched him fiddle with the iPad, it's always a mixture of anticipation of pleasant surprises (and with a certain degree of anxiety 'cos I would not know what kind of challenge he's going to 'impose'! Haha...)

I'm quite sure the process that's described was unique to kids nowadays! They really explore!!! And I believe it's accompanied with another important element - curiosity... to discover... and the excitement to see things happening!!! Partly, because of the 'lack' of structure in the way their brains are wired helps!

I think, the reaction would definitely be very different when you ask a more senior (er... elderly) adult to fiddle around with the apps and stuff in the iPad! Take me as an example, when I first received my device, my very 'structured' mind would 'tell' me to ask my "helplines" to assist... in the setting up and what to install, and how to go about organising my stuff. To be frank, I did not 'explore'... I would systematically know what I need to do and I would stop there once I got what I need. It's only in the recent weeks that I learnt how to do a screen capture of the iPad desktop! Well, it's never too late :)

So, I guess... lesson learnt here, while we tend to tell people, just 'fiddle' around and you would find it quite 'initutive' and 'easy to use'... we have to take note of who we are giving the advice to... It's applicable to the digital native, but more scaffolding will definitely help to encourage people of the other age spectrum!

First post from iPad using BlogPress

Something interesting that I learnt from a friend... Using BlogPress to craft posts even when there's no Internet access. Something that I shall try in the next few weeks :) It even comes with image upload button! #ilike

Also learnt something new from Lee Cherh yesterday. Having the virtual button activated to lengthen the lifespan of the iPad button. Who says that we only learn from IT savvy people only? Cheers!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Ideal Schooling is about....(?)

The Straits Times 2011, Oct 8 (My Point, pA45)

On the paper: "The day will come when parents will send their children to the school nearest to their homes because all schools are good."

I think there are 2 parts to this comment, one key idea that builds on one key phrase.

If "schools are good", it would make no difference where the child studies (is it going to be true?), then the next thing is to look into the "well being" of the kid - to minimise the travel so that more time is channelled into more (presumably) purposeful and meaningful activities... (Hm... ok, I'm making some assumptions to arrive at the reason behind).

On the other hand, would parents send their children to faraway schools because those schools are 'better'. Is it because they have no better choices? Hm... probably the nearby schools are "no good" (in their eyes)? Hm... definitely we do have parents who think like this!
  • Every morning at around 6 am, my neighbour would see her son to the main road to wait for the school bus that would ferry him from the Tampines home to ACS Bakar! 
  • Look around the "prestigous" schools, every morning cars from all over the island would converge at the school gate! 
  • One of my colleagues even said the back of her car is the 'changing room' for her daughter every morning! 
  • In the 6.20 am train departing Tampines for the west, it's not difficult to find students who don uniforms of schools like RI and CGS, of course, nearer would be VS, TKGS and DHS! 
Why do so many kids have to "travel" to schools faraway from home?
The idea of "every school being a school" was something highlighted by our Minister of Education in the recent Work Plan seminar, for improved quality in our present education system. On the other hand, I also wonder, is it a move to 'equalising' more schools? I recall reading an education-related article that mentioned something like "there is no failing school in Singapore" many many years ago (was that mentioned by then Prime Minister Goh?).

All schools in Singapore (maybe we need to quantify that schools under the Ministry of Education) provides education of a reasonable quality. There is definitely an "unwritten" 'baseline' that all schools strive to go above. Various measures and policies in place to ensure there is a common base for all. There's appraisal system in place by the MOE to "assess" where the schools are, ensuring they make it to the minimum mark (ok... it doesn't say that, it's a reality check for many, especially when an external party comes in to see-see-look-look).

Many say, Singapore is 'so' small... and being 'small' is an added advantage to manage quality. Hm... well, I think this thinking has somehow undermine the effort to put in to esnsure this positive outcome that is admired and 'dreamt about' by many. Being small doesn't mean it's always good. Systems have to be in place to ensure it delivers what's expected.

While schools are granted the 'base' for resources, once they are deployed to schools, given the envrionment and many other factors, these resources start to 'evolved', many a time, people is the key to this evolution. Put it across simply, there's where some schools raised to the rank of "good" schools while some 'fall behind" and more often than not, we call them neighbourhood schools! (Though neighbourhood schools, literally refers to schools situated within neighbourhoods!).

For every school is a good school would mean all schools adopting the same approach? I wonder. Then would we be getting 'clone' schools? Hm... What's the first thing that the public would use to check if a school has measure up to be a "good school"? Hm... Academic results! That's the most tangible and easiest to do! In the first place, that already differentiates schools because of the students 'enrolled' there! Would a school that has consistently made up of the larger group of "lower ability" students get the chance to change/ reverse the situation? Hm... There's this "value-added" award in place to show how these schools have made a difference to children's learning. To the schools, it matters as it's a recognition of the effort (and effectiveness in its approach) put in to value-add the child's development. On the other hand, does it really matter to parents? How many parents really think deeper than 'results at the surface' (i.e. to look at the processes and mechanics behind the success stories) and they started looking for schools for their children? I wonder.

So, what exactly defines a good school? While we were in the schooling age, one key consideration of the school is, it should be nearby. But what's important was, a school that "children will not learn to become bad" (translated literally “不会学坏”). So, the basis of good education is "character and value".  I think this has not changed over time... and in fact, it has been re-emphasized by our new Education Minister. Irregardless of  economic status, I believe all parents want their children to have good moral values, and the school environment were children spend most of the time there is critical. This goes back to the story of “孟母三迁”. All schools emphasize on character and values, as that decides who we are. However, I guess many a time, parents forget that that character education begins from home. Children bring the values they have (learnt from home) to schools!

So, after "beating around the bush", what makes a good school?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Still... about the Design

Here's another air-tight container... for another pack of junk food that needs to be kept crispy :)
This one is slightly more than twice the previous one 'showcased'.
Look at the 'fasteners'... there are only 4 of them despite it's bigger, and the cover design is similar.
Haha... based on the 'previous theory' (the more fasteners, the longer it takes to clear the content). Probably this will have a better chance to have its contents cleared these 2 days? Hm...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Good design? Practical design?

This is the container that I used to hold the pack of pork floss.
Since it's crispy stuff, I therefore chose this container.

Beautiful design, I thought... and I'm very convinced that it will keep its content crispy... 'cos it tightly sealed by the 6 'fasteners'.

Then, here comes the 2nd thought... why so many 'fasteners'? Won't 2 or 3 pieces would do the job?
Hm... I think it will do the same job well... maybe, will so many 'fasteners', it will slow down the process of clearing the content inside :P Hahah...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Circus of Life

This is an interesting installation put up by students from ITE Central. The art pieces are not exceptionally attractive... however, what caught my attention was the observations of the lesser noticed side of our beloved country. It did not portray youth or energy, but an area that some of us actually refused to acknowledge this side of our society.

Put it across more bluntly, it's showcasing the less desireable side of the "World Class Country" that we strived to become... In fact, this is not new to us... we have seen articles in the newspapers that talked about the elderly were employed to clean up dining areas (in food courts), pushing trolleys (in the airport), etc. In fact, some people (especially the foreigners) asked why do they still need work despite they are so old (some, seem to be in their 70s!). Why they are not staying at home to be taken care by their children?

Just to pick a few art pieces....
1, Does this old lady 'look familiar'? Well, we find many of them in food courts all over the island. What do they normally do? When we finish our meal, they'll come over to pick up the bowls, etc and put them onto a trolley before sending them to the 'backyard' to wash up. They are, somehow, indispensible because the pleasant environment nowadays largely depend on them... if one day, they fail to report to work, just wonder... would we be able to find clean tables for dining easily? Hm... #iwonder...

2. Next, the flyer/brochure distributor... we can find them anywhere, in particular at shopping malls, MRT/bus interchanges... sometimes even at the void deck of the flats. They have a common mission, indeed, to have all the flyers given out. Well, you can't just dump the flyers if you can't finish distributing! Die die must give out. What do passer-bys normally do? Just take and throw away. The flyer/brochure distributors don't like me for sure 'cos each time I would wave my hand to signal to them that I don't want. Yup, am making life tougher for them.

3. Someone with a broom who sweeps the floor at public places... do you recognise them? Have we ever shown our appreciation to them? Without them, how would Singapore look like? #iwonder Do we still recall how much litter was gathered at Orchard Road about the Great Singapore Swing? Well, well... so much about civic-mindedness... but we can't do 'away' without them.

Click HERE to view the album in Facebook

Beautiful collection of People and Memories and Hardwork of the new venture

The most beautiful gifts received this Teachers' Day... a documentation of the journey to-date... with the architects and engineers behind the new establishment captured here... and yes, it's also a milestone achievement :)

It's a privilege to be in the pioneeer team to witness the growth and milestone achievements... and of course, to be a part of it... in its history...

The Information and Communication Technology Department

The Mathematics Department

Friday, September 02, 2011

Heartwarming gifts...

This year's Teachers' Day is one of the "tastiest"... receiving 2 boxes of food, apart from the chocolates :)

The box of freshly baked bun was from Jonathan... and his mum. Nice buns! It's the thought and effort put in that counts a lot :) Yummy...

Didn't get the opportunity to check with the trio ~ Dawn, Devashi and Mingyi... if they baked these cookies or they bought it... they are sweet :)

Words that warm my heart and delight my days...

Thanks, Benz... 
Uniquely from Cupertino, hm... something I don't find at the Apple online store!

Thanks, Jiajun... :)
This comes in very practical and handy... especially after 'long-winded sessions'


Something from the Student Body... for the Teachers
...Nice idea to play with the alphabet set...

Thursday, September 01, 2011


One of those unexpected pleasant takeaway from last night's dinner... Thanks to our 'crystal ball' reader (Andy) who set up the "stall" :)

Just wondering, what's the "hidden blessings" it mentioned? Will it unveil on its own by the end of the year? Hm... :)


It's the 'heaviest' gift received this year (literally, the weight)...
It's simple... yet elegant... and definitely the thoughts behind it :)  Thanks!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Digital imaging

Happened to pass-by one of the iDA showrooms (at the new underground link between Suntec City and City Hall). It was pretty quiet despite the fact it's a Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, it also means that I need not to wait for people before I want to try on anything.

Tried 2 interesting stuff... Here's the first one, that's to become a character in the "cartoon story"... haha... it's pretty fun though... simply superimpose my 'face' on the character... :)

Next is something that I heard sometime ago, however had not really see it in action - Virtual Make-up :)
Pretty interesting especially when my features were sharpened after the 'make-up' session.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Singapore Spirit...

Yesterday we had a short session to revisit the 6 NE messages...which is all about us being part of the island nation.

The 6 NE messages are: 
  1. Singapore is our homeland; this is where we belong.
    We treasure our heritage and take pride in shaping our own unique way of life.

  2. We must preserve racial and religious harmony.
    We value our diversity and are determined to stay a united people.
  3. We must uphold meritocracy and incorruptibility.
    We provide opportunities for all, according to their ability and effort.

  4. No one owes Singapore a living.
    We find our own way to survive and prosper, turning challenge into opportunity.

  5. We must ourselves defend Singapore.
    We are proud to defend Singapore ourselves, no one else is responsible for our security and well-being.

  6. We have confidence in our future.
    United, determined and well-prepared, we have what it takes to build a bright future for ourselves, and to progress together as one nation.


Yes, like it or not, it's to promote patriotism. But it's also putting reality before our eyes.
Take for instance, who else is responsible for our own well-being living in this island nation? It's us!
No one owes us anything. We have to be responsible for our own well-being as a citizen in the country.

What are some words that we'll associate Singapore with when asked? What's the Singapore Spirit?
Some colleagues did a quick brainstorm and these are the words... ERP, GCE, COE, PIE, PAP, MRT, SIA, PSA... haha... uniquely 3-letter acronyms! So, are they uniquely Singapore? Yes, certainly! But what does that reflect about the mindset, the mental model about the country? The livelihood in the country?

Hm... indeed, just posted the question in Facebook "What comes to the Singaporean's mind when he/she sings the national anthem?" Indeed, this question has been lingering there for quite sometime...

Well, not to talk about patriotism... but words that cross my mind would be "Home", "Unity", "Togetherness"... Immediate response from some, "So politically correct". Haha... especially most know that I'm quite cautious in my words...

Well... putting "politically correct" aside, these are words that I'll associate with the word "Singapore" with. Some talk about food, some talk about the "pressure" they face, some would not voice their frustration over the influx of "foreign talents" (which one of my friends would have a lot to say).

Just wonder if anyone has this thought that we are fortunate enough have our own national anthem instead of singing another country's? It's because the country is strong enough to survive, to find a place on the globe. What's more the country does well in many aspects, though there are also things that many don't agree to.

For instance, about half a year ago, another friend of mine said, "Singaporeans are rare species". Which I fully agree! How many of us, Singaporeans by birth exist in this globe? Of course, the "influx of foreigners" issue has been around and quite widely discussed in the recent years (e.g. So, although the population of Singapore has been on a steady climb, the 'global migration' has added a new dimension to the whole mechanism.

Indeed, look from another perspective, what if one is required/ expected to sing another country's national anthem? How would one feel? I guess our grandparents would be able to tell us how they feel? In particular when one lost his own nationality because another 'more powerful' country gained control over yours. What's lost? It's the nation's pride! Not something that we could pay or negotiate through monetary terms. Of course, in today's context, some would feel nothing over it... since immigration takes place globally.

Yes. The first time I missed the national anthem was when I was overseas for a year.
When I felt that I'm living under another "person's" roof... Sometimes, just felt so "powerless" and helpless as all that I was familiar with no longer there, all those I could depend on were not there...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Into the Woods... Into Multi-Fairytale land?

It wasn't in my radar screen when I screened through the programmes in the Sistic website. Yes, once in a while, I just wanted to fill my weekends with some 'blue clouds' - cool times when my brain & mind will take a good break from work and be immersed in some space, embraced by music or theatre plays.

Indeed, at one go, I bought tickets to several shows:
Hm... Lion King is missing from the list as I watched that several years ago when I was in London. Though heard so much good comments about it, I don't intend to go for it... hm... I don't quite animals... hahaha... similarly, it took me a while to buy the ticket to watch Cats, and only when it came Singapore the second time.

Read the outline of the "Into the Woods" before deciding to spend money pay for a  "F" row seat in the theatre. Yes, it pays to sit in the front since I already planned to spend the money. The facial expressions, etc were so clear! It's like watching the "zoom-in" view!

The show assembled characters from several fairy tales - The Red Riding Hood, Cinderalla, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Rapuzel who's famous for her long golden locks! Wow, in Mandarin, we described it as 星光熠熠. Nevertheless, the mix and match of the stories made the show too 'rojak'! It attempted to use the baker childless couple as the link. Nevetheless, all, when put together was just a 闹剧, like周星驰的无厘头movie! Indeed, I was quite disappointed. The story line was not strong, neither was it captivating. It's kind of silly (although it's meant to be a fairy tale) to believe that one had to feed the "white cow" with 3 inedible stuff ~ a red hood, a golden shoe and a lock of golden hair ~ so that it would produce milk that would aid the childless woman to conceive!

Basically, the storyline was weak, I felt. and unfortunately, none of the songs left much impression after the show. I think, the only think I could recall was the gigantic lips of the "giant"! which I thought was quite an ingenious way to portray a giant on the stage! Haha..

While the performance was staged by a local production house, its playwright was first premiered in Broadway in 1987.

More information on "Into the Woods" :

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Specialised Talents" surviving in today's society? Just some thoughts...

Read the article in the Straits Times a couple of weeks ago about a former champion gymnast, Zhang Shangwu was caught buskering at the busy metro station in Beijing. It caught the attention of the media because the police 'chased' him away.

Another online report by the "" also reported about this: The unpromising athlete

In fact, I think this piece of news reinforces the common belief that one could not rely on "specialised" talents to earn a living. This does not just happen in sports, but also other areas like music or art. Perhaps it's a socio-perception? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

{Before you read further, I need to put down a disclaimer that I am writing with a set of assumptions... and of course, my possible ignorance of the actual facts... these are just personal views (that could be bias) in the absence of possible facts available}

For a long time, we know that 'big' countries like China and Russia made lots of 'investments' in terms of sports area. From a documentary that I watched (long long ago), little children were identified to be developed to become world class athletes! Since young, they went through tough training and there were numerous selection stages. It's basically training all day and all night long, and nothing else. As such, these athletes were not exposed to other things like formal education in schools. This was basically a very dear price to pay.

Of course, one might say, these athletes were trained to materialise their dreams! (in fact, I wonder, whose dream?); they might add that if they emerged to the top athletes, big money and fame would follow! (being in such a competitive environment, what's the success rate - for one to emerge amongst the tops?). For those who struggled but did not met with any success, then what's next? They would just 'return' to the society like just any unskilled (apart from the sports they know) individuals, just like a grain of sand at the beach. What high price to pay!

Even for those who emerge as world class athletes, how many sustain and lead good living after their retirement. I think this was the point that the report attempted to bring out. Many of us would think they could end up as coaches... nevertheless, how many would be engaged as one - I think, not many.

This is, in fact a serious issue to look into. China athletes are 'faraway'... how about our locals star athletes? 
Where are they?  One classic case was Mr Tan Howe Liang, who won the very first Olympics medal for the nation. Sometime ago, it was reported in papers about his not so smooth journey after the peak of his career.

I guess that's also one of the reasons why many parents are reluctant to let their children devote their entire life (children & adolescent) in sports unless uncompromised attention is also given to their academic well-being.

Thinking about Thinking Questions...

I admit, in the system that I was familiar with, be it in my school days or in my earlier years of teaching (ok, back to my previous context), there were lots of emphasis in the content and skill acquisition. Be it in Mathematics or Science subjects. "Drill and Practice" is a dirty word! It was the 'antiode' to good performance! It's a 'guaranteed' way of the getting to the top of the ranking, which many educators believe, not just the past, but also amongst the many today.

I might have dreamt my way through the many years of education, I still remember very clearly my very first encounter of a question in a major exam that required me to think 'out-of-the-box' and see something quite different (in those days when I was still a student). It was a Maths question - pattern observation followed by generalisation to come up with an algebraic expression. It's the first time I saw a 'context' outside Mathematics. I saw organic compounds (structures) appeared in the Maths paper. Still remember very clearly, CH4, CH6... the series... of course, it's a breeze since we saw that in Chemistry. But it was an enlightening encounter when I saw the cross-subject application! Under the exam condition, definitely, it required me to think beyond, especially when it went beyond just the simple organic series!

My second encounter was the "A" level Chemistry question that got to do with the manufacturing of a certain compound in the industrial context, which deviate from (or I should say, built on) what we learnt in the lecture.

Well, 'thinking questions' is actually not new in the Singapore Mathematics curriculum. However, it's many a time 'confined' to "Problem Solving (Hueristics)" type of questions. Many a time, skills are tested - procedural skills, application; rather than conceptual understanding.

Came across an assessment paper recently. There was a heavy emphasis on Algebra that constituted about 3/4 of the questions. Almost 50% of the weightage of these questions focused on procedural skills, to some extent, was testing the candidate the similar skills but disguised in the form of complexity in questions.

Do such questions reflect what the environment tried to encourage - conceptual thinking and understanding, hence application? Or does this only happen in classroom discussion, but reverting back to the 'old school' thinking and practices? Aren't we sending different messages? Are we aligning our practices?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stretching & Extending our Threshold

A check at shows that the word "threshold" has the following meaning...
1. called: doorsill a sill, esp one made of stone or hardwood, placed at a doorway
2. any doorway or entrance
3. the starting point of an experience, event, or venture: on the threshold of manhood
4. psychol absolute threshold Compare difference threshold the strength at which a stimulus is just perceived: the threshold of consciousness
5. a. a level or point at which something would happen, would cease to happen, or would take effect, become true, etc
b. (as modifier): threshold price; threshold effect
6. a. the minimum intensity or value of a signal, etc, that will produce a response or specified effect: a frequency threshold
b. (as modifier): a threshold current
7. (modifier) designating or relating to a pay agreement, clause, etc, that raises wages to compensate for increases in the cost of living

No day is a good day, no week is a good week...
Hahaha.. This sounds so common... especially when someone asked, how's your day? Well sometimes people would ask me: "How are you? In a new school. How's life?" The standard or a more diplomatic reply would be "Well, it all depends on which time of the year you ask this question."


Let's do a comparison... if someone asked me to count your bad hair days and you are able to name it, not too bad (although it's bad enough to have a day named as "bad hair day"). It also comes with an assumption that those we are unable to count is considered reasonably ok... and sometimes very bright days! On the other hand, if you were asked if could name your good sunny days and you are able to easily identify and name it... what could one infer about the rest of the days? Hm... Interesting, isn't it?

Days do not get longer... it's still that 24 hours in a day. However, with more and more work added, with more and more "strange" things happening around us that we need to manage, it seems like each day becomes more compact. As a result, sometimes we don't even have the time to think of taking a break.

Here, let's revisit the times when we could take a short break to ponder... and compare with those days that we zoom in and out, from one place to another... so, which is the time/ instance that we are optimising our capacity? In those 'bad hair days' when we are occupied for almost every minute and every second???

So, aren't those 'bad hair days' that our threshold is being tested? How much can we "take in" for the day... in terms of work, ambiguities, reactions and even nonsense around us? There are times that I cried aloud, "I want to skip the day!", "I want to skip the week!". Those were the days when my days were loaded with so many items that I could not even count! While each of the items are countable, it's sometimes the psychological effect that create a bigger impact on us!

Of course, that also includes times when we can't figure out why do we have to do certain things? Why did we choose to do certain thing? After accepting our own reasoning on the purpose, the next thing that we would us is, "Is it really worthwhile to do this?", "Is the price too high to pay?", "To what extent we know there's Return of Investment?". Hm... I think this is not self-doubt, but it's clarifying on the 'reality' ground. Each time we go through this and we decide to go ahead because the value of doing it overcomes the challenge and stress, I guess, there's where we stretch our threshold further. It's the will and determination, I believe.

Apart from looking at "we", there are also other players in the field that "help" us to test and extend our threshold, in particular, patience. It appears in many forms... and of course, things that they do to frustrate us. What are our reactions? At the spur of the moment, sometimes we would really want to strangle them... on the other hand, if we could manage the nonsense calmly... I guess it means it had not hit our boiling point... Yes, it sounds like threshold also refers to patience... how much we have... and it's really up to the point that we lost our patience...

In a recent facebook post that I asked for the measure of patience, I got several responses...
  • ‎1 min=1 headless chicken
  • Measured scientifically by the number of people you did NOT strangle.
  • By the number of pple tat hv left the organisation...or are planning to leave!
  • Wah! Headless chicken? Interesting. By age? The older u are the more patience. 
  • It depends on who it is... To a Buddha, patience is probably eternal. To an attention deficient hyperactivity disorder person, i think, he/she has zero tolerance... Apart from personality, it depends on where u stand on the continuum of patience too! I suppose a proactive person will not allow anything 2make him/her 2b a victim to a person or situation to test his/her patience but will instead strategize to manage & sometimes remove d source that is testing his/her patience. For me, if I hate mossies buzzin around me, I will either wear an insect repellant b4 going on a walk then I don't hv react to their buzzing & biting me or I choose not to go where mossies will test my patience or haha! if got loads of €£¥$, i'll go fumigate d area 1st! Lol

Up to this stage of writing, the term "threshold" focused largely on the individuals... but I think one of the responses pointed out the need to look at "organisational threshold" too! What a foreign entity is introduced to a system, it would sure cause some 'waves'... however, if such 'waves' remain unsettled for a long while and the other entities in the system don't seem to be able to accept its presence in the system, effort has to be put in to achieve stability. When it goes beyond the threshold limit, disintegration could be the next...

1st Time @ Marina Bay Sands...

It's the first time came to Marina Bay Sands... since its opening at the beginning of the year. I had this impression that it's not quite accessible, being on an 'island' on its own, there's no MRT station on this little island. Some walking is necessary, if not would be the bus.

That was also why I had postponed thoughts of watching performances at the theatres housed on this island! Of course, that would mean I might miss out some good productions!

Well, at last, bought a ticket for the "Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber"... as a good reward for myself, a timely one after so many weeks of hardwork and stress :)

I was careful enough to set aside 2 hours for the navigation & settling down. I thought instructions from the MBS website was pretty comprehensive... nevertheless, because I followed the instructions from the website instead of the direct signs put up in the MRT station, I took an extra 5 minutes to find the right exit to catch the bus. Well, 3 buses from the bus-stop... pretty convenient if we do not wish to subject ourselves to the afternoon sun. The building was huge! and it's separated from the hotel building. So, the casino, shopping mall and the theatres are all under one roof... pretty of walking... but I think it's not that difficult to get there :)