Critical Thinking and Problem Solving at El Shaddai Learning Centre, Klang

It was a 3 day workshop(8 to 10 June 2017) to help teach the students (ranging from 12 to 18 years old) how to apply critical thinking techniques and skills to problem solving.

I found the students to be articulate, curious and forthcoming in the discussions each day. The first day we had them share about the different types of problems they face and to categorise them as “Easy”, “Medium” or “Hard”.

Some of the problems they shared that were “hard” included “being addicted to games”, “cleaning their own rooms” and “doing homework.” There were some who shared that losing a loved one makes them illogical, angry and emotional.

One of the activities of the day was to be able to tell if a piece of information was “real” or “fake”. The students did extremely well for this exercise and were able to share relevant pieces of information to support their stand.

I have an enthusiastic 13 year old boy who volunteered to read most of the slides. When I shared about “Group Think”, all of them told me about this one boy in their class who was not at the sessions. As the 13 year old boy diplomatically puts it across, this boy has issues controlling his tongue and speak unpleasantly.

For the final presentation, the class was divided into 2 teams of girls and 1 team of boys to present arguments that support one of the following claims:

a) Boys have more self discipline than girls.

b) Boys vandalise more than girls.

c) Boys are more honest than girls.

It was a lively presentation and the teams did well with the preparation through searching for relevant clips and articles that supported their claims.

Here are some pix of the students at work during the 3 sessions. Guess who was the best speaker and which was the winning team? Well done class!

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My own “aha” moment – Educate, Education and Learning

DoggieRecently I was conducting this lesson with my poly students using the PBL approach. I had 3 classes of year 1 students and we spent a day each talking about these issues.

Hey, to an educator, that is a fantastic time. I have always wondered how our students felt about education, being educated and learning. Now I got the “air-time” plus get to hear their views…all in the name of a lesson 🙂

What is the end goal of education in a formal system?

Are there informal ways of learning? What is the role on informal education in one’s lifespan?

My own “aha” moment came when I had to re-look at everything from another perspective after I accidentally discovered that I could draw and paint, and that people actually liked my paintings enough to buy them…

The journey in learning Chinese ink, was pretty much incidental and accidental.

Like a good programme, (for those programmers out there…)my life was “interrupted” with this new interest which I somehow couldn’t explain.

You see, from young, I learnt that I cannot draw cos I have “D” or “F” grades for Art. I could never draw that brinjal or do potato prints. I did not understand why we had to do calligraphy with a manuscript pen. Still life bores me as I cannot understand why we need to draw objects.

And my idea of Chinese ink? Well, it pretty much belonged to “Chi-na” people who do not like English and are often seen  as “uncool”.

But I like art books, art galleries and have been collecting them ever since my twenties.

I liked water-colors and the way the pictures are done. Of course, there are some artists who are so different from me and I cannot understand their art at all.

But what happened was that it took a good art teacher, my first Chinese ink teacher, Mr Tan, to make me believe I can draw. How?

He simply asked and told us to exhibit our paintings. Nothing is impossible for him. His unquestioning look when I brought my only art piece (a piece on “Orchids”, which incidentally I did right when I ran out of ink…yep, it’s true…as my friends will tell you :)) and my determination to put my piece as part of his exhibition started my journey into excellence for art.

To him, I owe this small yet important step to unlock my “drawing” potential.

He simply believed me. 

Then my next step. A calligraphy teacher, Mr Guo from Shanghai who taught me the basics of strokes and make even writing “One” a delightful masterpiece. (Read my blogpost on this:http://plchi.blogspot.sg/2012/07/calligraphy-and-what-it-taught-me-in.html)

He taught me the details and the structures of the words. It may seem boring and not as fun as the other class. But he taught me the basics of the strokes. The delight of forming that perfect stroke and the beauty of each Chinese ink brush stroke.

Confirmation of the talent came from friends, my sister, sister-in-law and when I finally drew a complete painting, my favourite to date, the water village series (http://plchi.blogspot.sg/2012/07/revelations-there-is-no-short-cut.html), a friend, Adeline remarked “but now you can..”

and finally my watercolor teacher, Mr Cheng, whom I learnt a little on how to draw and sketch on the spot.

However, not all of my “education” for art was formal. Some were “aha” moments when friends passed me a calendar to sketch, another was when I got this stylo milo portable water color set from another friend, cos I drew a self-admiring panda for her.

Not forgetting the many who liked my Chinese new year pieces and were kind enough to donate monies to my fund raising activities.

So what is education? Really it is about meeting with the right mentors and being diligent.

Mentor Beginner – the one who started you on the first step, who spotted your potential and believed in you

Mentor Structure – the one who “forced” you to practise hard on uninteresting stuff

Mentor On-the-Spot– the ones who taught you outside the typical classroom

Mentor friends – people who affirmed your talents and gifts through feedback and encouragement

Mentor buyers – people who are interested enough to buy your products

So, for students out there who are frustrated with the “formal” education, do not be discouraged. What cannot destroy you can only make you stronger:)

Adversity breeds perseverance..a forgotten virtue in this “instant” world.

I am fortunate to have met some of the most wonderful students in my poly teaching. These are not the typical academic “A1” students whom I used to teach in premier schools but students who have good attitudes and fortitudes. They are students who could be acting in shows like “Ah Boys to Men”.

What is ultimately more important is not to let people, system and grades label you as “cannot”.

Everyone has a role to play on this earth. Just discover your role and work hard.

And yes, when people fail to recognise your “talent”, don’t be so hard on yourself and play the blame game.

Learn to take yourself less seriously and laugh at your silly mistakes:)

Make “Excellence” your choice.

2 Cor 4:7-15 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Useful links:

http://plchi.blogspot.sg

http://gallery.ourf.sg/Gallery/Welcome.html

Will a Singapore teacher be allowed to have this kind of “sabbatical?”

I chanced upon this Travelling teacher blog on National Geographic Traveller magazine. The article shared about an educator, Diana Gross, from Garrison Forest School who decided to embark on a year long leave of absence with a “globe-spanning goal of digitally connecting students and teachers by bringing technology education and mobile video training to undeserved communities.” – Source: National Geographic Traveller magazine, Dec 2012/Jan2013.

Wow. I was intrigued. I googled her name and found several you-tubes and her blog where she shared how she used an “An iPad2 and tripod adaptor, a Canon Powershot, a Canon T3i camera, a Sennheiser lavalier mic, and a MacBook Air. This studio became a focal point of her work that year. “(Source: http://travelingteacherblog.com/about/)

She is the “Global Educational Correspondent” for Garrison Forest School, and is currently living in Cambodia.

Now I wonder, will any teacher in a Singapore school be allowed to have a sabbatical like hers?

I have worked for more than 20 years in various schools and am still contributing to education through OURF. I am also as a Academic Associate in local polytechnic 🙂
I left the Dean role in a local school in 2007 for a dream to help poor kids.

As a senior educator, I was entitled to be on “sabbatical” to study something. But I was not interested in doing another course or a phD.
I wonder if I have been brave enough to suggest what Diana Gross embarks to do. Actually I have no idea how I was to help poor kids when I left the teaching post to pursue my dream. I just wanted to use technology to help them. I simply felt that we in Singapore are so privileged. Our schools are well equipped with the latest technology tools.

So I did some work with Oracle Education Consultancy to use their platform for an Online High School project to help Vietnamese scholars learn English.
However, that was over in a year, and seriously I do not think I have that kind of impact that Diana has.

Perhaps the iPad wasn’t invented then so the technology was not right. Also internet was scarce in developing countries then. It was in Jan 2008 that I started OURF.
That aside, maybe I just needed time to fumble around, make some mistakes, help various NGOs and learn from them. In the few years, I helped Lions Gift of Sight, World Vision, Kampung Temasek and Singapore Bhutan Foundation. Some are worth my time, some really wasted my time and money. But I learn 🙂

In Feb 2013, I read this story about this real teacher, who is given a designation “Global Educational Correspondent” with her own local(home) school.

I read through her blog briefly and was amazed at how her simple gadgets helped to reach these poor communities.
She took the plunge in the first year and “The Traveling Teacher Project was funded during the first year from personal savings and a small sabbatical grant.” (Source: http://travelingteacherblog.com/support/)

Here is a sample youtube that she did with kids:
“Students from the Chey School in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia tell a brief history of their school. This video was recorded and edited entirely by students on an iPad2 as part of a ‘Tell Your Own Story’ project. To learn more about the Chey School, visit http://www.theplf.org. To involve your school or community in a video project, visit http://www.TellYourOwnStoryProject.org. To learn more about the WOWi team, visit http://www.WOWi-Austin.org”

Now, I wonder aloud, would a Singapore teacher be allowed to have this kind of “sabbatical”? Must sabbaticals always involve going to a reputed university for a course?
and what is my role in this?

Useful links:
The Travelling Teacher

Standing firm against unreasonable demands….

Each time I read about hot education issues in the papers, iToday or even a FB post, I feel the need to blog.
Tuition – should we engage tutors or not? Tuition centres overcharge. Tuition teachers are not qualified. They are out to make a fast buck.
A boy get his hair cut by a school teacher. His mum files a police report.

And in the midst of exploring some of these education issues, there were many calls by anxious parents to ask me to consider setting up a tuition centre, one that can help fill the gaps of the current school system….

But is studying in a Singapore School so bad? Are we doomed?

Yesterday at the WorkPlan Seminar for schools, an announcement was made by Minister of Education about the scrapping of banding of secondary schools. Here is a snapshot of the Masterplan of Awards document from the MOE’s website,

Masterplan of Awards
Masterplan of Awards

According to the document, “The MOE is strongly anchored on SEM values where the development of students is the priority, with the intent of recognizing a variety of school achievements in line with MOE’s commitment to deliver holistic education.
The MoA is a unique recognition structure that motivates schools in their pursuit of the Desired Outcomes of Education. First instituted in 1998, the MoA has undergone various changes in response to the changing needs of the education landscapre over the years.
The structure reflects the SEM philosophy that excellence is an on-going journey.”

Let me attempt to give some possible reasons on why the good intentions of MOE has its challenges when being implemented in schools:

a) A new generation of iKids – This is a generation of kids who have grown up on instant gratification – instant noodles, instant growing (eg Farmville, you can grow things in a few clicks!), instant success and a lack of respect for seniority.

Instant everything – in this age of borderless classrooms, the students are exposed at a young tender age to a whole lot of information. Knowledge and facts become “cheap”. All kinds of information bombard the children of today. They get information from Facebook post, twitter, TED talks, wikipedia, youtube, podcast from well known universities or simply bloggers who recycle (re-post) news from one blog post to another. In fact, the era of Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn, seems to welcome and exonerate quick-off-the-cuff comments from its members. What is once privately shared with a circle of close friends, now can get re-twitted and re-post in a quick manner. And the post (while yet to be authenticated for accuracy and details), just spread and spread, like a malicious worm…gone viral!

We need to teach the children of today to have wisdom and discernment. Wisdom seems an odd thing to teach the children as it is associated with an old man or woman. However, when knowledge comes knocking on the doors of these kids and they get bombarded by exposure to an overwhelming amount of facts, it pays that schools give great attention to teaching the children how to discern. Facts from fiction. Gossip from truth. Instant from a long term study of things. Teach them to ask: where is the source of this information? Is it reliable?  What is its track record?

b) Lack of respect for authority – There is an increasing dis-respect for seniority and authority. Children who have grown up with having a maid or helper to “assist” them in all kind of chores, can become very dependent adults if we are not careful. For instance, I know of one boy who was too lazy to even walk a mere 10 steps to turn on the fan and asked the maid to turn on the fan for him  If this attitude and habit are condoned by his parents and those he looked up to, he will probably grow up thinking that as long as the service is “paid for”, he deserves all the help he “need” regardless of whether it is right or proper. While I am not against the idea of having some help for household chores, I feel very strongly that the values we teach children when we engage helpers  in household chores have long lasting repercussions. If we treat these foreign help with less dignity than we treat our pets, we will reap what we sow in the next generation.

As a Christian, I subscribe to what the Bible teaches about learning to respect authority. In Romans 13:1-8

“13 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s lawFor the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”[a] These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her most recent release on 13 November 2010,[10] becoming one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners.

c) Looking at the students as clients and aiming to “please” them – I feel this concept that students and parents are the “clients” have been oversold. While we want to provide the best for the children, educators have a moral obligation to do what is right for the charges under them. Every educator and teacher is bound to teach children values besides imparting knowledge in schools. This is the fundamental difference between teaching children and teaching adults. By casting the school as being service oriented, and projecting students and parents as the clients, the idea to please rather than to teach is subtly introduced. This leads to an erosion in respect for the education institution and for the teaching profession.

d) Is the fit good for the child? – Excellence is a journey that is worth pursuing. But not every child is meant to be in an independent school, under the IP programme. Please…..as in any job, any career, if the fit is not good, the poor child is going to suffer. Adults who pander to the whims and fancies of their children will have to bear with the consequences as these same very cute children, can grow up to be totally dependent adults – waiting for their parents to bale them out of any trouble or problem. We have seen the problem of the “kangeroo” adults in Korea and other developed countries. Do we want to solve every problem that the child face today for them?

Do not force fit your child.I did an earlier post that my niece did not make it to SOTA due to her PSLE score. She is now studying in Christ Church Secondary. She is very happy there and feels more confident. She has a good and supportive principal. She is around students who studies at her pace. So a good fit will blossom a child…not a perceived “good” school.

e) Is there trust? – If your child is worth your time, do consider seriously to partner the school in this journey. A child is going to spend at least 12 years of his life in formal schooling. From P1 to JC2. This is where he gets the chunk of learning in terms of being a decent human being, learning to respect rules, authority and learning to live within a community. No school is perfect. Every school has their challenges. But if parents choose to trust schools instead of questioning at every turn and corner, the trust will be returned. Trust is something that needs to be built over time. There is no instant formula for trust. Schools and teachers in turn must learn to trust the parents as well. Not every negative feedback about the system is bad. Sometimes, and often times, we are so immersed in one system and one perspective that we are not able to see things from other angles. This is your call to committing to understanding the challenges your child faces.

The challenges of the education in the 21st Century is an endeavour that requires time and committment. Earning the $$ to help fund your child’s tuition fees in schools and give him a good education is important. But more important, do take time to understand him as a person. He is only a child once and very soon he will grow up. Take time to understand the challenges he is facing today. Remember, a child that is much loved will feel secure. A secure child who receives guidance and discipline grows up to be a responsible adult.

Let’s learn from the wisdom of the wise King Solomon:

Proverbs 13: 24

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

Useful links:

Spare the rod, and spoil the child

Respect for Authority

MOE Workplan Seminar 2012

The gift of education – keeping 20% for the poor

A boy who benefits from the programme
A boy who benefits from the programme – screen shot courtesy of Akaraka video clip

I chanced upon this while reading a facebook update by an ex-student from St. Joseph’s Institution. Bro Michael Broughton is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission, Manila, Philippines. I have always known him to be a witty and humourous brother, knowledgeable yet humble. I enjoyed listening to his assembly talks. He is an intelligent person yet he comes across as a person who treats others with dignity.

Curious about what he is doing, I clicked on the youtube link.


I was inspired by what he shared. Through the clip, he shared how De La Salle university has become one of the top and most expensive university in Manila, Philippines. He shared how many of the prominent businessmen in Philippines comes from De La Salle’s School of business.

As a Christian brother school, the leaders wanted to ensure that the school remains a school of the poor and for the poor. De La Salle university is in a privilege position to help change the economics of Philippines. He then went on to share how the school is partnering Akaraka to help the poor students. In order to make a difference in the culture of the school, they have set  a target of 20% of the population to be for the poor students. The video clip showed pictures of boys who have benefitted from the scholarships. Students with their parents and families in the villages.

It is such a beautiful story.

Yesterday I was at second meeting of Joy Ambassadors at World Vision Singapore. A group of us volunteers were asked if we wanted to share the joy of being involved in child sponsorship. Though it was a small group, the sharing by the various people present made a deep impact on me. A friend, Joanne, felt led to help after she saw a video clip on Channel 8 about how the children were living in Mongolia. She felt that no one should live like that. It is below human dignity. Her heart was broken by what she saw. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision said “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Another shared that she wanted to build a school in Africa, ever since she was in Secondary school.

One by one, the volunteers present and World Vision staff shared about how they got involved with World Vision. For me, it was an accidental journey. But I was glad I started. I am learning to put aside my assumptions about NGOs and what I can do. Instead, I asked myself, “What is needed to help them?”. Time and again I have learnt that what I assume may not be what the locals need. To partner, I need to set aside time, be committed and be available. It has been 3.5 years.

The journey partnering with World Vision has been transformational. When I saw the humility of the weak, the poor and the joy they get when they receive help, I know that the things I prided myself in is nothing compared to the many sufferings these villagers go through just to get a decent meal or even to go to school. When I met the many children orphaned by Aids, I know that being looked down or misunderstood by the community is something they face daily. Suffering is real.

There was a village school that I remember distinctly. The teachers were all rice farmers. They are part-time teachers, yet fully dedicated to helping the children in the only school in that village. Yet they serve with such great joy.

I am excited about this new partnership with World Vision. Being part of the team of Joy Ambassadors, I want to be useful and to let my gifts and talents make a difference to the poor. The under privileged. In my small ways. With the team.

Thank you Bro for always being inspirational. It is through clips like these that we know that there are many out who do more than token giving.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48

And we in Singapore has been blessed by a good government and good education. Happy 47th Birthday Singapore!

Do join me in this journey of helping the poor and underprivileged. Trust me, you will become a more beautiful person:)

Useful links

Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision

National Day Celebrations 2012

Brother Michael Broughton – De La Salle University

Seeing in a different light – hearing colours

President Tony Tan signing 1000 people Pine Tree
千人松 signing by President Tony Tan – Life Art 40th Anniversary

It was an unplanned encounter with a concerned parent last Saturday. No, I was not meeting her in the capacity of a teacher. It was not in a school setting.

Instead, we were having refreshments after the Opening Night of the 40th Anniversary Art Exibition by Life Art Society. It was a small cosy event. Nothing spectacular compared to last Sat’s Gala Dinner where we witnessed Dr Tony Tan signing the 千人松 or 1000 Pine Tree picture as the Guest-of-Honour.

Yet, it is in the simple and unglamorous occasion that sometimes the best conversations take place. The cosy event presents an opportunity for me to share with her some of my insights as an educator. To help assure her that the things she is doing are on the right path.We were chatting over a simple plate of Char Bee Hoon. In a humble building, @Lam Ann Association, in upmarket area of River Valley Road in Singapore. The exhibition was a simple and sincere effort by all volunteers and supported by people who are interested in Chinese Ink.

I was introduced to her by a friend, a fellow amateur artist and a friend of hers. There we were, talking about the concerns she has as a parent of a Sec 1 boy. She was anxious about whether she was doing the right thing as a stay-at-home mum.

– if her boy is rather quiet and compliant, should she be worried?

– if he fails in his social studies, what should she do?

– he seems laid back, how can she motivate him?

– should she caned him more? should she cane at all?

She shared that she felt her report card and achievements are all tied to the way the boy turned out. Is she a good parent doing all she should at this time in his life? Should she be doing more? or less?

A friend and ex-colleague once sms me, “I always feel that becoming a parent is a very humbling experience. …suddenly you are not independent and self sufficient anymore. I count of my mum’s good health so that someone can take care of them…I hope their teachers at school teach them well etc”

It truly reflects the many many anxieties of parenting. Parenting is a journey and as in all journeys, we need many good partners to help us.

The partners can be the classmates of your child, the teachers, the good neighbours and of course, your immediate family. People who are concerned for the well-being of your child.

The sharing lasted a good half an hour or more. I believe there are no quick fixes. Instead, what was important was for her to know that what she is experiencing is normal and what she is doing is just fine. Sometimes, it is as simple as that. Anxiety weighs you down.

I ended by sharing with her that she can try praying. Praying to God. Sometimes our human wisdom do not allow us to see ahead. Men may pride ourselves in having so many achievements and coming so far. It is afterall the 21st Century. However, a small voice tells us…”We do not have all the answers. We are still vulnerable.”

Let me end off by sharing a wonderful and inspiring TED talk by this guy, ‘artist Neil Harbisson who was born completely color blind. These days, a device attached to his head turns color into audible frequencies. Instead of seeing a world in grayscale, Harbisson can hear a symphony of color — and yes, even listen to faces and paintings.

Neil Harbisson’s “eyeborg” allows him to hear colors, even those beyond the range of sight.’ You can watch his video and sharing via Ted.com (Source: http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_harbisson_i_listen_to_color.html)

Indeed I have felt that my life has been so much more secure after experiencing God.
Useful links
Neil Harbisson – I listen to color

Unschooling – Is that part of our 21st century toolkit?

Joy and Jeremy at Arcade
Joy and Jeremy at Arcade Game

Have you heard of the phrase “Unschool“?  I stumbled across this term when researching on “asking questions, learning” which I typed in my search box. Dr Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College in his blogpost on Psychology Today, defined “unschooling” as follows:

“Defined most simply, unschooling is not schooling. Unschoolers do not send their children to school and they do not do at home the kinds of things that are done at school. More specifically, they do not establish a curriculum for their children, they do not require their children to do particular assignments for the purpose of education, and they do not test their children to measure progress. Instead, they allow their children freedom to pursue their own interests and to learn, in their own ways, what they need to know to follow those interests. They also, in various ways, provide an environmental context and environmental support for the child’s learning. Life and learning do not occur in a vacuum; they occur in the context of a cultural environment, and unschooling parents help define and bring the child into contact with that environment.

All in all, unschoolers have a view of education that is 180 degrees different from that of our standard system of schooling. They believe that education is something that children (and people of all ages) do for themselves, not something done to them, and they believe that education is a normal part of all of life, not something separate from life that occurs at special times in special places.”

It is believed that 10% of homeschoolers are unschoolers in USA. Which translates to 150,000 students and more.

I supposed unschool takes the concept of homeschool one step further. For homeschooling, there is a prescribed syllabus and you teach your child according to what the syllabus prescribes. There is a network for homeschoolers and you can purchase the syllabus online.

Unschooling is based on the premise that every child is curious and talented in some ways. The parents help to shape their learning. I like the sentence that “they believe that education is a normal part of all of life, not something separate from life that occurs at special times in special places“.

So is there a place for unschooling a child in Singapore? We have founders like the founders of Kampung Temasek who are trying a new way of learning. We have homeschool organisations who provide families a systematic way to ensure their child gets a validated curriculum for their education.We have parents who chose homeschool to inculcate certain values in their children.

But there again, do parents need to homeschool or unschool their children to teach them values? Is there value in a formal school education?

Recently I have the privilege to host an ex-colleague and her two children in Singapore. Her boy(P3) and girl (P5) studies in Hong Kong(HK) Singapore International School, a school based in HK and uses the Singapore syllabus. They were here on for Easter vacation.

Here’s what I observe when I was “babysitting” her two children while she was having her much deserved break and facial. Jeremy(the boy) and Joy(the girl) were given ten dollars each to spend.

I was a bit worried. I am not sure if we should go to the new JCube to do ice skating or walk around IMM where my friend was having her facial. IMM seems like an adult place and what is there to see and do at IMM? kiddy rides? Popular? But we had been at Popular just yesterday to buy some assessment books.

Well, I just asked the kids what they want to do and they told me so innocently, “Aiyah….we cannot ice-skate as you dunno know to. Never mind lah, Auntie Pin Lay, we just walk around IMM.” What a logical answer 🙂

So we were at IMM. Walking aimlessly.

Surprise no 1. The first stop was at Mini Toons. They wanted to buy some sweets. But what was surprising to me was that they chose to buy so little that it cannot even make up the minimum quantity of sweets. It was only 30g compared to 100g requirement for the least amount they need to buy! We did buy the min 100g in the end but they both did not finish the sweets. I think they only ate about 50g or less:)

Surprise no 2. The second stop was at an Arcade place. Jeremy did not want to spend his money at all. In fact he was upset that Joy bought tokens to play together. He was annoyed and said “But you never ask me if I wanted to play!” He was not interested to play in the games as he wanted to keep his $10 intact. Joy, being the sharing and caring big sister, got him interested. She shared how great it will be if they play together. He still refused, not convinced. However, towards the end of the session, they were playing well together. It was a simple game of hitting the belly of an ugly looking frog. It was such a good kiddie game that with their combined skills they scored well and the tickets start rolling. Soon J and J were so motivated to get more tickets that they played the same game 5 times! The end result – they managed to win some nice prizes to share with their mum:)

Surprise no 3. My friend was not done with her facial yet. We walked over to take a drink at Ah Mei, a local food joint. I told them, “Hey time for a little iPad game..no need $$. Just use my iPad while I take my fix of tea halial and chwee kueh.” Imagine my pleasant surprise where Joy took out her remaining $2 and waved at the auntie to use her $2 to pay. Well, $2 was not enough to pay. I started to take out my wallet to pay.

“No, no, Auntie Pin lay, you keep your money!” Both of them said almost simultaneously. Jeremy started to fish for his ununsed $10 to rush to pay for me. I wished you were there to see the amused look of the auntie serving us at the counter. So my $5.10 refreshment of tea plus chwee kueh were totally paid for by them. Not a small amount considering that it is 51% of Jeremy’s pocket money!

I later told my friend that she has really brought up her children well. “Baby-sitting” for her was a real joy 🙂

So to what extent should the the parent’s involvement in their children’s education be? Do you think “unschooling” is a good option for your child? If not, why not? Or should it be part of the suite that is available for Singapore parents to choose from? What type of support do you think you will need? What type of skills? How do you teach values to your children so that even when you are absent they will bring happiness to others and joy to their “baby sitters”.

Your view?

Useful links:

What is unschooling?

Learning without schooling

Hong Kong Singapore International School