Category Archives: Education


Sometimes I feel guilty for being part of a system which kills creativity and spontaneity.

Seeing answers like these, which can only come from fresh international students, still untainted by the rigidness of marks and scores, only deepens this guilt.





What do you see?

Sometimes I wish I could do more for them. Make them see the importance of working together. Of helping each other. That life is not just about grades, or results, or awards. That there is beauty within a single note. A single moment. That they have the power to stir souls and make lips smile, or make tears fall.


Maybe, I’m being too ambitious. Setting goals too high. I should look nearer. Closer. After all, every little starfish saved matters, no matter how small.

Oh, Grow Up.

If you ask me what I can’t stand about my work, I’ll say this:


“How some people never seem to grow up.”


How they can’t seem to look at the big picture.

How they fight and disagree over small issues.

How quick they are to complain when things don’t turn out well.

How they ostracize each other because of minor differences.

How they seem to lack responsibility for their own life.

How they don’t seem to have any discrimination in their actions.

How they easily push the blame to others, to everyone except themselves.

How they expect everyone to do everything for them but refuse to lift a finger for others.




Am I asking for too much? They’re only 14, after all.

But, if after 14 years of your life, you can’t even learn the basics of responsibility and discrimination, then WHEN will you?

The Day He Sat with Me

There are times and days when, at work, I feel like:

A clown

An erupting volcano

A secretary

A babysitter

An event planner

A zookeeper

A nagging parent

A disillusioned soul

An educator (not all is lost)

Today I felt a combination of everything, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. The “I could do this forever!” and the “what am I doing this for?” moments, all rolled in and churned out from 6  45-min periods.

Perhaps the battle was more on the losing end today, for the result was a very exhausted person who came home and did nothing but flop down on the bed for a good 10-15 minutes, thinking about nothing in particular, except: “Why am I feeling this way?”

On a whim, decided to head downstairs to see if he was around.

He was!

He ate the food…

He made me smile…

He made me laugh…

and for the first time ever, he came up,

and sat with me.

I am ever more convinced that furry companions are the best ones.

Three Cups of Tea


So the meeting today went on and on and on,

about how our national exam scores are falling below national average,

about what can be done to improve the numbers,

about how the T-score of our Secondary 1 students have remained the same (198 for Express),

about how many hours of homework we are supposed to assign every week,

about how many lesson packages we have to come up with by the end of the semester,

about many many more numbers,

because everything these days is judged numerically,

and numbers have become proof of success…

And all I could think about were the Balti children in Northern Pakistan, who want so much to learn, who sat in the open-air chill of the snow-tipped mountains, exposed to the elements, going over what they manage to grasp from the teacher who only visited their village 3 days a week, because he was needed in another mountain village as well, and of the father who chased his son away from the village just so he would be forced into the city to study in a proper school, despite their poverty, and of the girls who became empowered through just a few years of education, learning how to read and write, and thus escaped from a life of prostitution.

And I thought,

What are we doing?

Madam * .

From January to May this year, I was given a Sec 2 class for History. They are a good Express class. Most of them are self-motivated and eager to learn. They are even a little too quiet and reluctant when it comes to group activities. They excelled in their SA1 results.

When Term 3 started in July, this class was given to another teacher, and my periods with them were replaced by periods with a Sec 3 class; I would not be the main teacher, but I was to co-teach and learn from the main teacher. The Boss wants to prepare me for upper sec History next year. (-.-)

Sometimes, when I walk past students of this Sec 2 class, they ask why I don’t teach them anymore. Some of them said they missed me, which was really sweet of them.

Yesterday, a girl from this class approached me. She is from Thailand. As with most international students in my school, she is very diligent and hardworking.

“Cher, can I ask you about History?”

My first thought was, “Why don’t you ask Mdm * ?”

But because it was so sudden, and Mdm * happened to be busy with the O level students, I said… ok.

And that was how, today, we ended up sitting outside the staffroom, with her and her friend asking me what is the format for history essays, why did Malaya not want Merger in the first place, and what were the factors which led to Separation, how do we answer SBQ questions that test on Purpose, etc.

Naturally, I was a little wary that Mdm * would suddenly come out and see us together. Which teacher would like to see her students going to another teacher for help? I worried that she might be offended.




If I were to end this post here, and say that the session ended uneventfully, without Mdm * ever noticing us, it’d be such an anti-climatic ending, wouldn’t it?






From the corner of my eye, I saw her emerging from the staffroom door, my source of fear and worry. Acting cool and ignorant, I continued talking to the girls, explaining why studying from notes might be more beneficial than studying from the textbook. She walked past us. It was obvious. The Sec 2 History textbook was sprawled wide open on the table. I didn’t look up at all. But I saw the sheepish and guilty smiles of the girls, and I knew she had seen us. Even the girls knew they were going behind their teacher’s back!! Mdm * did not stop, she continued on her way to class. But I KNEW she had seen us. She had seen ME.

When the session finally ended a few minutes later, the girl again said:

“Cher, why don’t you teach us anymore? I actually prefer you.”

“Maybe if you choose History next year, I might be teaching you then.” I replied, remembering my Boss’ sinister plans for me.

“Oh I will definitely take History elective! Because I cannot understand anything in Geography at all!” She rattled on in her cute Thai accent.

I smiled and went back to the staffroom.



So, what do you think? What should I think?

It’s probably nothing. Mdm * might probably appreciate the help I was giving to the students. She might come and joke that they miss me too much.

But I also know her well. She’s an easily jealous person. She thinks for her own good. She manipulates to get what she wants. She complains to higher authorities. She can bear grudges. She is one of the few people in the school against which I have not let my guard down. What will she think about her students asking me for help instead of clarifying their doubts with her? Jealousy is a scary thing.


We shall see, won’t we?