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Thursday, 8 September 2016

I want children to play

That's grasshopper philosophy.

And don't worry tuition giving friends.

Just like the driverless car, I don't think we will do away with taxi-drivers, bus captains, and train drivers anytime soon. Just look at the "signalling issues" we have with driverless trains...

Confucian societies need hierarchy. And thus ranking.

Panic only when they do away with President Scholars.


  1. Try to bring the system here? The parents will panic!

    1. Sanye,

      Big daddy has gone to the Scandinavian countries to steal the best practices. I suspect that's where "every school is a good school" came from ;)

      It won't be a big revolutionary changes; more like evolutionary baby steps.

      And the first step was to do away with "precision" in PSLE scoring ;)

      No more best PSLE student liao. Now we just have a band of students that did well.

      We introduce fuzziness and greyness into the system :)

      The President Scholar thing is just a relic of Cheena's Imperial Exam system.

      In a world where a college undergraduate can be a billionaire by writing some apps or code some kick ass software, we need more youths that -

      Don't know what cannot be done!

  2. Hi SMOL,

    When I hear the narrative, I know it's Michael Moore's documentary :) Thanks for introducing his works - I'm a big fan :)

    Don't worry about me! I'll happily be the first to q up to join the teaching force if it ever comes down to this :) I think it'll be great fun for everyone Haha!

    1. LP,


      If teachers are happy and teaching is fun all over again, I would even consider becoming a teacher myself!

      That's if they allow O' levels to teach at kindergarten ;)

      If cannot how about teacher's assistant?

      Still cannot qualify then surely there's a need for the Lollipop man?

      My time got school attendant with the big stop sign to help students cross the road.

      Wait a minute... Long time never see them around...

  3. School attendant's role had been kinda split up these days. There's an operations person now that handles all the non-teaching stuff that runs a school. The guy holding the stop sign? Largely outsourced as part of the security guards' duties now. Of course, less well-funded schools get teachers to also wear a vest and control traffic too.

    I haven't seen a male teacher's assistant before though... and I had tried attending courses for early childhood education a few years ago. I was politely told that they will accept me but it is unlikely I will get employment since females are more traditionally accepted for the role.

  4. And oh, when I was shopping for my son's childcare, at every open house, there will be at least 1 parent who questions what kind of homework is being given, or how grading is done, etc and how that fits into MOE syllabus.

    For their 3 year olds.

    1. Patty,

      I see the primary school near my place got security guards... Its good I guess if I had a child and I worry about security, but at the same time its a bit sad...

      At least its not like in the US where they have metal detectors :(

      During my time, visitors can come and go into our schools without being accosted.

      Glad I grew up during a period of "innocence" and "trust".

      I think some parents have forgotten what's it like to be young.

      3 year olds...

    2. Lol... when I was working in a local school, there had been a case where a parent strolled right into a class and said she wanted to monitor how the teachers teach. VP gets buttered by P, Ops manager gets buttered by VP, security exec gets buttered by Ops manager and security guards gets buttered by the exec.

      So now they have electric gantries to the school, parents have magnetic identification cards and lifts have card readers.

    3. Patty,

      Talk about over-reaction... Turned the school into maximum security facility?

      Same can be said for those attas high rise office blocks in the city centre.

      Glad HDB estates are not ring-fenced and turned into maximum security facilities like some condos...

  5. SMOL,

    Think the ministry is aware and learning from various models. The Finland model
    Is always shared together with the other side of the pendulum model- South Korea model.

    We have a no. Of Koreans in my school and my previous, generally, they are more "hardworking" and u never hear them whine about work. Even pupils exempted from taking Chinese do their work and I gladly teach and mark theirs. No wonder they improve faster than their Singapore peers.

    I think Singapore need to find their own footing. It's a disease we to copy any model. Stop giving me the crab our education is why we never produce apple or Samsung

    Only Amercia and Korea produce Apple and Samsung, where is the correlation?

    At the macro level, Singapore education is fine, but the finer details need some tuning...

    Learning through play is not easy. Like value investing ... Simple but not easy.

    Learning from others is good, but copying will not work, just like copying from legendary investors will not make you rich

    1. Hmmm .. not really true for learning value investing. It is simple and can be done. Many more have believe it and willing to pay not so cheap course fee over $X,XXX for two-days weekend class with follow-up chat room and support group. Don't just copy but re-model and revise legendary investors and then you are on your way to richness.

    2. Sillyinvestor,

      1. Are you happy being a teacher (right here, right now)?

      2. Do you think your students are happy?

    3. CW,

      The basic purpose of education is to teach us to read, write, and count.

      The higher purpose is to train us how to THINK for ourselves.

      Evidently, some people have forgotten how to think for themselves the moment they left school...

      Hence the need to graze as a herd, feel better to have a shepherd to guide them.

      That's where you get the - "you have that stock; I also have" crowded trade/over-hyped investment theme...

  6. Smol,

    I think I am happy teaching... And I think my pupils enjoy my company. But I dun enjoy doing my HOD job.

    If fact this whole holiday, I am in school everyday except today. I feel more energized in school than today...

    Teaching at a slower pace is a enjoyment, talking male
    Chicken to pupils, having a sports break during lunch hour, etc, get to see another side of my pupils. What more to ask for.

    Anyway, learning through play is a very "old" concept, it's has been around and adopted in various forms and degree in schools already. But it's more sexy to hear it from an Ang mo isn't it?

    Learning through games, outdoor trips, competitions, manipulatives, experiential learning, cultural activists etc. u name it, we have it.

    It's another moon is fuller at the other side too.

    What we do not have, it's not the concept or pedagogy, and u and I know what is the crucial
    Missing link that has nothing to do with "play"

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      1) That will be 1 cup of coffee ;)

      You have the answer to your angst. But whether you will take action is another thing; especially if you love the money that every promotion up entails, more.

      2) Friend,

      The Scandinavian concept of play is different from yours.

      They have shorter school hours and less home work so kids can plan activities themselves on their own.

      Ours? Its longer school hours so teachers like you can plan "play" activities for the students. Homework is a kind of "planned" activity.

      One is "I trust you"; the other is "wah kali gong" and everything is planned for your own good ;)

      No, its not new. We in China have our Taoism as the counterbalance to Confucianism.

      Taoism with its non-action (no goals; no planning) and harmony with nature is almost hippie-like.

      But if you are a land-owner or shepherd, of course you would choose Confucius!

      Sell to the bei-kambings that servants must serve their masters; juniors should listen to their seniors; citizens must respect authorithy... Ah ber then?


      Its quite appealing to those who don't have to work for a living ;)

      Try using Taoism to motivate your subordinates to work harder... LOL!

    2. Friend,

      No.1 answer I knew long ago la. But like u say, I want money. And I knew that too. I whin ... Yes. But I get on.

      No.2 guess u are right.

    3. The man-whore raises his glass to the prostitute.

      There are many prostitutes amongst us.

      In the day whine and complain like a drunken sailor; but when night comes, kisses the dollar bill just before he goes to sleep...

  7. why do we need to copy and study how other countries are doing? Don't we know how to think and do what is right?

    1. Blursotong King,

      Its not about copying others.

      Singapore, to remain relevant and thriving as a city state that can punch above its size, is almost paranoid on being no. 1 in everything we do - hence the constant benchmarking with global rankings.

      If we become like Penang or Malacca, then if history is any guide, we would be absorbed into the household of our "big brother".

      Just make a wild guess why big daddy has a habit of making frequent changes and tweaking of our education system?

      The education system I studied is not the same as the one of today.

      The strength of Singapore is we are not afraid to search globally for best practices to import with pride :)

      (And that includes human talent)

  8. I watched this video sometime back and I do agree that a child need to play more up to certain age. When my 5 year old teacher complain that my child is overly playful in school and cannot pay attention to her teaching, she sound very irritated. I am quite happy actually that she is always so playful and happy.

    I use to work with Finns and Scanadavians for many years and been there too. Their education is quite different. Children are very independent and have creative thinking, but perhaps more inferior when it comes to working long hours and multi tasking.

    Recently I heard of suicide case of student from top school in Singapore. Apparently the deceased is my friend's daugther.

    1. Rolf,

      My condolences to your friend's loss.

      For your own good well meaning intentions should never be burdens of great expectations to our young ones...

      Maybe its the long dark winters or something, but just look at the Nobel winners and interesting start-ups and cool innovative companies from Scandinavian countries.

      No surprise Angry Birds came from Finland!

    2. Appreciate the condolences.

      Sorry, it's my friend's daugther's close friend who died! Top school in Sg, but the media kept mum to it.

      Not sure the recent announcement of change in PSLE scheme is doing any better?

      While the Finns are really nice people to work with, so humble and collaborative as a team, the downside is their over-conservativeness when it comes to making important decision. When I say conservative, it's really conservative and so many layers... ! This impeded their innovations...

      Nokia bad... Angry birds good! :-)

    3. Rolf,

      Yes, my Swedish ex-company also practice Japanese style consensus building. I often joke we spend most of our time in meetings! LOL!

      Then I realised the decision has already been made by the top, the meetings are for getting everyone on board.

      Gives the illusion of "ownership".

      A bit like the situation in Singapore ;)

  9. when my boy was 3, with everyone objection, i bought him a TV console game with lots of games to play. i bought him every games there is that he is interested in, later in life i bought him a drum set he is keen to learn. later he quit normal school and went to a music school all by his own decision. i let him choose his own path and assist him with no interference.

    now he is a professional drummer earning a decent income and enjoying his work.

    1. when you let your children play and play and play (the games that they like), they will know what they want to be when they grow up and achieve it.

      same goes to my little girl, like me she never like study and playing games day in and day out, i never bother about it and let her be. she told me she probably will not want to be a "mordorn slaves" and don't see herself working for anyone else.

      she is now a 3rd year undergrade and wanted to go for master or higher.....haha....

    2. the govt must think of the masses, the society first to form the education platform. it is no fault of them.

      we (our children) as individual has to consider our own interest and choose our own path, there are other ways of going around it as long as you don't follow blindly the crowd.

      our children, not the parent, know what's good for themselves and they are not stupid!

    3. Coconut!!

      I think u are really one in the 10000! When your son take the drummer route, are u worried?

    4. coconut,

      Yes, our own lives, we should be responsible.

      As big daddy - being the biggest land owner in the land - I would do the same.

      It's a bit like playing Real Time Strategy game:

      Oh! Now I need to produce more grunts.

      Ah! Need more archers to defend this tower...

      Idiot! It take ages to train a mage myself. Wait, I can ask someone to farm a mage for me!

      Now we need more nurses and physiotherapists and less lawyers.

      As with all things, the pendulum tends to swing too much to either side.

      Just wait. One day we'll have an over supply of nurses and shortage of lawyers. Big daddy will sing another tune then...

      Crash got sound ;)

    5. coconut,

      My condolences to your friend's loss...

      You're one cool dad like my parents ;)

      I remember telling my mom I didn't want to continue forward with my A' levels. I want to work.

      "Sure? You know what you're doing?" my mom queried.

      "I've no clue; but I know I don't feel like studying now. I prefer to work and figure it out later," I told her honestly.

      And that's that! Cool or what?

      I would like to think that things have worked out quite all right for me. Life has been kind; I'm lucky ;)


    6. smol, what did my friend lost (recently)?

      sillyinvestor, to tell you the truth, my wife objected it, i too didn't think its a good idea to switch to music school but after a brife talk with my son, i too was convince he make the right choice for himself. he has to make his own decision thats the important point.

      my feeling is a bit like my trades, you never know whats the outcome will be, just go with the flow!

    7. coconut,

      Sorry. That condolence line was meant for Rolf. Don't know how it ended in the comment for you... My mistake!

      Your son drummer good! Chicks love guys in a band! What a life!

  10. When I hear older colleagues or friends mention that their child is not really into studying, doing average, and just enjoy playing games or reading comics, a part of me feels that this is good, at least the child is not so stressed up about school and results and I believe they are enjoying their childhood.

    1. New commenter in the house?

      Welcome Amos to this watering hole!

      I think we know of parents who are more stressed out than their children during exam time...

      Its quite comical if not for the fact its reality for the child... And that cannot be fun...

    2. Hi SMOL

      Thanks for the welcome, silent reader and 菜鸟 here. Hopefully I won't be too stressed about such stuff when I become a parent next time, even though the "comparison mindset" might somehow always be there.

  11. Making a wild guess here. To keep everyone on the toes? Or keep testing and trying to find the right formula.

    If we want to be number 1, would following the best practices leads you there? At most you will be second isn't it?

    1. Blursotong King,

      You're on to something ;)

      This kind of philosophical bantering I like!

      Without benchmarking with others, how do I know I'm no. 1?

      If I run my own race and walk my own path, do we still need this concept of being no. 1?

    2. SMOL,

      Thanks for entertaining me on this. I like critical thinking. Never felt we must always to things the same way.

      There is nothing wrong with benchmarking to determine where we are. But are we really benchmarking? If yes, against what? Is this the global agreement method for benchmarking? Learning something from you, trust but verify.

      Sorry for begin long winded here, it's the same with my company. Wants to be number 1, but against who, using what as a benchmark and how long it takes to reach here. All very murky. Changing things like crazy and no results to show for a past few years.

    3. Blursotong King,

      You see what I see.

      I often poke at low level goal setting and planning.

      Good example is Nokia and Blackberry. You mean they don't have goals or plans? They were the market leaders in their respective segments.

      When a totally new and foreign entrant outside the telecom industry entered their playgrounds with the first iPhone, I guess Nokia and Blackberry were too busy focusing on their own road maps that they didn't look out the windscreen...

      The same can be said for Nintendo and Sega on their hand-held gaming devices. I guess they missed the explosive growth in smart phone gaming? Seen anyone playing with Nintendo or Sega handheld consoles on our trains recently?

      When you are a highly paid shepherd, you want to create "activity" - never mind whether going in the right direction or not - at least this way, no directors or major shareholders can accuse you of taking money and doing nothing ;)

  12. SMOL,

    Kamsamnida. I like the last paragraph.
    Examples alway help with the explanation.

    Have been at the sideline silently reading your blog as well as LP, CW, FD, SI, AK, 3Fs, STE blogs to name a few and felt I need to engage to be enriched.

    I guess in a phase of my life questioning my life purpose and assessing if I would like to continue trading my time for money or finding something meaningful. Read my view https://blursotongking.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/尽孝的机会错过了永不再有/

    1. Blursotong King,

      Ah! Welcome to the blogging community!

      STE has also recently took to blogging too :)




      Good, good.

      Another bilingual blogger to banter in Chinese with :)


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