Sunday, January 29, 2006

Thank heavens for extensions!


I wrote in last night to Smith, my lecturer for an extension on my final Sociology assignment. S/he extended it to the 27th, which should give me ample time enough to do it....THANK HEAVENS! Now I wouldn't have to worry so much about it that much.

However, surprisingly I didn't request one for my play essay (which apparently a lot of my classmates did request for one).

One of my classmates, MF, did a 60-page f portfolio for the Play Based essay, (which all of us are like looking up in the air and saying, " she really beat us to it, didn't she??". Being that there is no word limit to it, I bet she will score 100 upon 100 if THAT is possible. She really surpassed all of us........... *no comment left liao*. Of course, coming from a background (where she has to do presentations and long proposals is one factor behind it. The training for it, is of course, one of the key factors in which she can just do it without blinking an eye over it!)

I did not do so badly for the first essay, and therefore felt that I did not need to request for an extension, although many of the other classmates did.

Well, to each their own.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reggio Emilia

Ok, I have copied & pasted this from somewhere....just can't remember where, so I can't give you the link. Don't sue me ya!

The following overview of the Reggio Emilia Approach was taken from a packet of information available at The Hundred Languages of Children traveling exhibit:

Hailed as an exemplary model of early childhood education (Newsweek, 1991), the Reggio Emilia approach to education is committed to the creation of conditions for learning that will enhance and facilitate children's construction of "his or her own powers of thinking through the synthesis of all the expressive, communicative and cognitive languages" (Edwards and Forman, 1993). The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is a city-run and sponsored system designed for all children from birth through six years of age. The Reggio Emilia approach can be viewed as a resource and inspiration to help educators, parents, and children as they work together to further develop their own educational programs. The Reggio Emilia approach is based upon the following principles:

Emergent Curriculum: An emergent curriculum is one that builds upon the interests of children. Topics for study are captured from the talk of children, through community or family events, as well as the known interests of children (puddles, shadow, dinosaurs, etc.). Team planning is an essential component of the emergent curriculum. Teachers work together to formulate hypotheses about the possible directions of a project, the materials needed, and possible parent and/or community support and involvement.

Project Work: Projects, also emergent, are in-depth studies of concepts, ideas, and interests, which arise within the group. Considered as an adventure, projects may last one week or could continue throughout the school year. Throughout a project, teachers help children make decisions about the direction of study, the ways in which the group will research the topic, the representational medium that will demonstrate and showcase the topic and the selection of materials needed to represent the work. Long-term projects or progettazione, enhance lifelong learning.

Representational Development: Consistent with Howard Gardner's notion of schooling for multiple intelligences, the Reggio Emilia approach calls for the integration of the graphic arts as tools for cognitive, linguistic, and social development. Presentation of concepts and hypotheses in multiple forms of representation -- print, art, construction, drama, music, puppetry, and shadow play -- are viewed as essential to children's understanding of experience. Children have 100 languages, multiple symbolic languages.

Collaboration: Collaborative group work, both large and small, is considered valuable and necessary to advance cognitive development. Children are encouraged to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize, and problem solve through group work. Within the Reggio Emilia approach multiple perspectives promote both a sense of group membership and the uniqueness of self. There high emphasis on the collaboration among home-school-community to support the learning of the child.

Teachers as Researchers: The teacher's role within the Reggio Emilia approach is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a teacher-researcher, a resource and guide as she/he lends expertise to children (Edwards, 1993). Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe, and document children's work and the growth of community in their classroom and are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking, and children's collaboration with peers. Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning.

Documentation: Similar to the portfolio approach, documentation of children's work in progress is viewed as an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers, and parents. Pictures of children engaged in experiences, their words as they discuss what they are doing, feeling and thinking, and the children's interpretation of experience through the visual media are displayed as a graphic presentation of the dynamics of learning. Documentation is used as assessment and advocacy.

Environment: Within the Reggio Emilia schools, great attention is given to the look and feel of the classroom. Environment is considered the "third teacher." Teachers carefully organize space for small and large group projects and small intimate spaces for one, two or three children. Documentation of children's work, plants, and collections that children have made from former outings are displayed both at the children's and adult eye level. Common space available to all children in the school includes dramatic play areas and worktables for children from different classrooms to come together.

Features of The Reggio Emilia Approach

Teacher Role:

  • to co-explore the learning experience with the children
  • to provoke ideas, problem solving, and conflict
  • to take ideas from the children and return them for further exploration
  • to organize the classroom and materials to be aesthetically pleasing
  • to organize materials to help children make thoughtful decisions about the media
  • to document children's progress: visual, videotape, tape recording, portfolios
  • to help children see the connections in learning and experiences
  • to help children express their knowledge through representational work
  • to form a "collective" among other teachers and parents
  • to have a dialogue about the projects with parents and other teachers
  • to foster the connection between home, school and community


  • can emerge from children's ideas and/or interests
  • can be provoked by teachers
  • can be introduced by teachers knowing what is of interest to children: shadows, puddles, tall buildings, construction sites, nature, etc.
  • should be long enough to develop over time, to discuss new ideas, to negotiate over, to induce conflicts, to revisit, to see progress, to see movement of ideas
  • should be concrete, personal from real experiences, important to children, should be "large" enough for diversity of ideas and rich in interpretive/representational expression


  • explore first: what is this material, what does it do, before what can I do with the material
  • should have variation in color, texture, pattern: help children "see" the colors, tones, hues; help children "feel" the texture, the similarities and differences
  • should be presented in an artistic manner--it too should be aesthetically pleasing to look at--it should invite you to touch, admire, inspire
  • should be revisited throughout many projects to help children see the possibilities

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Parent-Teacher interactions: Diplomacy is the Key.

Today we were discussing about reflecting on our professional practice as teachers, and our lecturer, Dr.Leow brought up this thing about "apologizing" in the education line. (which really, at its end, a service industry).

She told us about a teacher who was under her employment who had refused to apologize to the parents regarding some strategy she had employed on some of the children who had been trying the teacher's patience. Nonetheless, the teacher had unintentionally done somethng which was culturally a taboo, and the parents wanted her to apologize.

Instead, Dr.Leow was the one who apologized instead of the teacher. Unfortunately, it so happened that the set of parents were by vocation lawyers! The father wrote in the next day with a formal letter requesting that THAT teacher, who didn't apologize gave a formal apology TO THEM, or he would bring it to court case, (or something of that sort)....

So the poor teacher, had to write it out on black and white.. Dr. Leow commented that IF ONLY the teacher herself had not been so stubborn, the whole entire issue could have been avoided altogether. Even if the teacher were to fake it, it wouldn't matter, but at least the whole situation could have been diffused just by the teacher saying sorry...


That's the thing about being in a service line....we can never say that the child is naughty even if they really were....diplomacy & tactfulness are skills & traits that all teachers have to cultivate and develop to stay in the business.....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Malaysia: Kindergarten- 3rd Orientation Day. (the "tidak apa" last minute attitude, as usual!).

I think that Orientation Days are a "god-sent!".

No doubt that we as educators have to go back to work during school hols, but we reap the fruits out of it.(don't we?)

Today is the 3rd Orientation Day scheduled for the new enrolments. There were quite a few new enrolments, with a number being siblings of previous students. A difference can be seen in the children who had gone through the first two days orientation, being that they were more settled down, and knew their way around.

The ones who just came in, (you could tell it was their first day!) were clinging on to their parents and were crying.

It is known in the Malaysian circles of the practice where the peoples tend to wait until the last minute before deciding to attend to a serious matter, especially when a deadline is concerned, or if it is enforced. This is shown in the recent media, where the people made a mad rush to apply for Identification Cards by the throngs and hundreds. causing much problem with the Registration Department, especially with the already limited staff available to handle. Malaysians have to be pushed to do something, which is a trait I disdane and dislike among my own country folk.

Now, if you were asking why they only came today, you have to relate this to the typical Malaysian practice of procrastinating to the last minute , which is so apparent recently what with the case of the late application for the MyKad (Malaysian chip embedded identification card) which resulted in long queues few kilometres long. People came as early as 4am because they wanted to avoid the RM20 fine. It was reported some were furious that they could not get a number and even threatened the staff at the National Registration Department (NRD).

Tell me, whose fault was it? The Department's or was it the people's lackadaisal and complacent attitude of waiting till the last minute?
Anyway, the same goes for checking out kindergartens.
But the question goes, the children ARE your investment.
Why would you as the parent wait till the last minute before actually deciding to research and investigate which kindergarten has the best education syllabus which would meet the needs of what you want and for the child?

From just observing the surface from the data that is given, you can tell who among are the parents are most concerned about their children's learning. If that is how they are at kindergarten, what makes you think it would be any different at primary or at high school level?

Lack of time is a silly excuse. It's a trait called laziness. Your children are the best investment you can put your money into. If that is the time you put into researching for your kids, thats also the same kind of fruits you will reap from it.

Of course, I dont mean all parents have the same kind of lackadaisal attitude towards such serious matter. Fortunately there were many parents who were not. I am just fuming, as the school had especially allocated two earlier days for the children, and yet some did not bother to advantage of it, or only waited until the day prior, or today itself before deciding to check the school out, (as shown by the number of parents who did come in today to see).

Obviously, you can't tell off parents who are coming in to see the school. (they are the source of income, you know??). They don't realise the problems they pose to the staff, who may be too busy handling their own classes and are unable to provide them the attention, due to their last minute walk-in. Now, can you blame the teachers, who have been standing in duty during the one month before school started just waiting for parents who have come to enquire about the school?

If I had a choice, and if I were running it, I would bring them around the school, but I will say that they have to be put in the WAIT LIST and make them wait, because my school IS GOING to have some standards. PRESTIGE if you may call it, as the Snobs would say.

Just as I was put on a wait list for this private elementary school I attended in Ampang, (I was put on a wait list since my father applied me in for about 5 years!!!), my dad just moved me in immediately when the school called him one day to announce that there was one empty place for me when I was in Primary 6 (5 long years!!!). Not to mention, application fee for me was about RM100 then.

Education is not cheap, you know??

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