Good or bad, life goes on…exploring post A levels alternatives

It’s THE day. The nail-biting day when students come back to receive their A level results. While I’ve told students that results are not everything, I can’t help but feel nervous on their behalf. When you’ve put in two years (sometimes three) of hard work, naturally you’d hope that your results turn out well. So…

New year, new beginnings!!

I’m just realizing that open house was yesterday and if prospective students were to click into this blog the first post they’ll see is about internet porn! So figured I better write something real quick so they don’t think the YJCounsellor is a weird person. Did you make a new year resolution? Not sure if…

Just .b

The .b programme is something that I piloted with a number of JC1 students this year. I’ve been meaning to write more about this programme on the blog so more people are aware of what is this .b thing that I’m doing. Huffington Post is having a series on Mindfulness in Schools (which is another…

How to survive the first week of school

Hello everyone! Welcome back to a new school year! Although with the lessons starting and homework piling you may not feel very welcome and may in fact already feel like dying. I feel you. This was me just three weeks ago, lying on a hammock on the best beach in Asia with not a care…

Finding your motivation

It’s that time of the year again when the school starts putting numbers on a board. Numbers so big that the auntie staying in the opposite block can see it while watering her plants. Numbers that decrease with each passing day reminding us (whether we like it or not) that our end of year exams…

I am a child of meritocracy (and why I still love Singapore)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snPvkj7iMx4&feature=player_embedded

I had meant to write about some fancy theory on delayed gratification and what it has got to do with managing your time what with this current reminder every day that there are only x number of days to your exams. But with National Day 1 day away, I thought I would post this youtube video that a friend forwarded to me a couple of days ago instead. It has supposedly gone viral and it’s easy to see why. The video is titled ‘I still love you’ and I think in many ways it reflects the authentic sentiment of many Singaporeans including myself.
I am a child of Singapore’s meritocracy. Money was not something we had in the house a lot and more than once the electricity was cut off because my parents didn’t have the money to pay. As a 7-year old then, I thought the government was being so uncompassionate and cold-hearted, that they didn’t empathize with the ordinary citizen’s difficulties. I was so worried at that time that the government will also stop me from going to school one day if my parents can’t pay the school fees so I spent a lot of time crying and worrying and wondering with each day that I go to school if it would be my last. Of course I didn’t know that the school fees then was only $3.50 a month and that Singapore’s education policies were such that no child would be denied an education regardless of financial background. I didn’t dare to break any school rules, joined 7 CCAs, volunteered in school tirelessly for any and every event and pushed myself to ‘over-perform’ thinking that the school will then have no choice but to keep me in school even if I don’t pay the fees.

School was a happy place for me. A place where I can feel like I’m no different from other children who have wealthier parents. In fact it was the only place where I could feel that I’m better than other children because I performed better academically. It was the only place where I could feel good about myself and not have to feel looked down upon by others because my family was poor. When I entered RGS, the disparity was felt more acutely because my classmates would be chauffeured to school in BMWs. I remembered that once my form teacher frowned and looked rather annoyed when I returned her my pledge card and told her I couldn’t raise the requisite amount for the school flag day. However, I know that at no point in my education did I feel that I was not given the same opportunities as the other students in my class. I learned that in Singapore, meritocracy means that it doesn’t matter what background you come from; you can progress in life based on merit (hard work and achievement) alone.

Today I no longer worry about not having enough money to pay the electricity bill. Today I know my employer doesn’t ask about what family background I’m from but look solely at my merits. Having lived in a few places overseas, I know that there are still so many places in the world where you’re not given the opportunities that are given to children from wealthy family background. Education in some of these places is a selective luxury only for the well-off. People who are poor remain poor and there is seemingly no way out of the poverty cycle. That’s why I value education, and why I feel so sad when a student chooses to drop out of school, and why I would give it all I have to bring a student back to school to continue their education. How about you? What is the value of education to you? I ask that questions sometimes when students come and talk to me. I find that when they are able to connect with and find the value of education to them, motivation comes naturally.
Tomorrow we’ll be celerating our country’s birthday. As cliche as it sounds, I know that my life might have turned out quite differently if I was not born in Singapore. So Happy Birthday Singapore!
Ps: I still love you, Singapore. J

Boys and Girls and BGR

Well now that A’levels are ALMOST over (I’m so happy for you guys!) I’m gonna write about something less academic-ish and seemingly more suited for the romantic Christmas season – *drum roll* BGR. I’ve been shunning the BGR topic like forever…haha…cos it’s such a LARGE topic and so COMPLEX. And also in many ways I…

Rubik’s Cube

I’ve been rather enamoured with the Rubik’s Cube recently. I finally learned the secret technique to completing it and I’m now able to complete it under 5 minutes which really isn’t anything to brag about considering the young fellows who taught me the technique can all comfortably finish it under 40 seconds! Now before you…