Thursday, December 29, 2005

Orientation: Day 1 & 2.

My school just had their Orientation Day yesterday and today. There will be four days of Orientation, this week, Thursday & Friday and next week, on Tuesday & Wednesday. School will be from 9-11am.

The first two days was primarily for the new students, so the teachers of the other classes came to help out. With a higher teacher and lower student ratio, it would be less chaotic and the children would receive more personalised attention from the teachers.

It was great! On the first day itself, many of the parents came with their children. The children composed mostly of the first years 3,4 & 5 years children. An entire group worked with playdough, whilst the rest with animal puzzles, knobbed cylinders, pegging, and the Pink Tower.

After the first day's activities, I realised that I had to change many of the Practical Life activities, and set out to change it so that the materials would be suitable for the new children.I had not intended for them to use the Practical Life activities, but I had to change it nonetheless.

By the 2nd Orientation Day, there were still as many parents, but some of the children (the older ones that is) had already calmed down. The younger ones still had their parents accompanying them, but there were some of the more plucky ones whos moms just went to work not long after.

The children worked with puzzles, pegging, and knobbed cylinders till the bell rang. Then they put the materials away, and had circle time. We had singing and a game of passing the ball around. It was sort of a way to break the ice among the children.

After morning tea break, the children had about half an hour to work individually on puzzles, blocks and other manipulatives. After which, they packed it away to spend some time at the play ground.The day ended after that.

I think it is a good strategy to do that without the presence of the existing students, as it would be much more chaotic and having 3 (or 2 classes) of children whose parents.

I am still waiting for school to start. In the mean time, I am still very much in a holiday mood....*heh*. But there will be loads of paperwork to do, in regard to my Special Needs exam & project, my Sociology assignment, my Play lesson plan project, and of course, the upcoming article that is due. Something on pre-natal brain development, memory and cognitive skills.

New Zealand Primary School experiences.

My cousin, Winnie is back to Malaysia from New Zealand for the Christmas holidays with her family. When I was at her home earlier, I started asking her about the education system back where is, which is in Auckland.

Now, Kimmy, (my niece who is 13 this year) just finished Intermediate Level is attending High School next year. I did remember at one point of time this year, (after Soo Yee had returned from Australia), she told me that her cousin (who was the same age as her) who was in NZ did not seem to get any homework or needed to do any homework in the schools there. So now I wanted to clarify whether it was true of it over there.

Kimmy is currently attending public school, and paying 350 NZD (which is even higher than the normal public schools, but that's coz they have more activities there). Winnie stated that it was incorrect to say that the students (in intermediate level, where Kimmy is at right now) do not get homework, but the kind of work they are given to do is a lot of projects.

(I wouldn't mind asking Kimmy all this, she is most capable of answering all these questions, but it was more proper to ask Winnie, as the latter had attended Chinese high school here. Winnie has currently lived in NZ for over 20 years now, and puts her the best position to make the most educated and informed comparison between both education systems.

The subjects that the students do there are not segregated into like three different subjects, but instead, the subject areas are integrated into one, by way of projects, for example, history, geography and social science into one project, say, the family tree which Kimmy had to do.

The other subjects she had to do were projects such as
-BioTechnology: where projects including making her own lip gloss or hand cream.
-Wood work
-Electronics: project outcomes was making her own radio.
- Pewter Technology (where she made pewter craft such as earrings out of mould!),
- Literacy: a Novel Analysis (say, Harry Potter, where the student had to write out the main character, the plot, analysis, and all that).
- Art Technology: design their own uniforms (for project work) as well, as painting (some portraits, which I can't remember what she was saying about).

Other subjects included in the syllabus were also Music and Movement (some kind of dance as well), even basic music theory as well. Co-curricular experiences included programs such as student exchange programme to host families in Australia, cycling around the Island on bikes and living in the Maori homes (don't know what they are called) and loads more.

According to Winnie, the list of projects were given in class, as well as on the Internet on a homepage, where each student had their own homepage, and parents (like Winnie!) can actually go online to check what are the list of projects that their children had been assigned to do. Winnie said that she used to keep watch and monitor on that page to know what kind of projects that Kimmy had to do, but she said that she had stopped doing it since Kimmy began to be more responsible for her own assignments

The kind of work that is given to the students were not the mucking type, where it required a lot of rote memory, as in our Malaysian culture required, and especially during exams, where after that, it would have been thrown out with the wind. However, the projects requires a lot of thinking and analytic skills, and had to be done and assessed invidividually and attendance is graded as well.

In fact, Winnie pointed out vehemently to me that the system is such that it prepares the student for the onset of university studies, and deadlines are given. Extensions, like at university level, have to requested even at Intermediate Level!!

To this, which I noted that a lot of the subjects seem to be relevant to real life and things that can be used in real life. In my perspective, a lot of the subjects in Malaysia are not integrated, whereby each subject is segregated to so many parts, that it hardly seems relevant to what we are doing at all!

Which comes to my next point. As I have said before, I doubt the chinese school system has changed much in the past 20 years, at least since even when my friend, Jaq has left school, which is about ten years from a chinese school. Knowing which, I'd rather send my children to a Malay school and let them have more time to pursue more things of their interest.

Of course, if I want them to learn Mandarin, I would send them for Mandarin tutelage. But most importantly, school has to be a pleasurable experience for them , and not a time where it is stressful mugging and memorizing of meanless information & data which can't even be related to them in their real lives.

From my perspective, I cannot imagine the Kimmy I see now, if it were not for the way she has been shaped by the school system over there. Kimmy (coming from a strict chinese education system) would be very much different from Kimmy (coming from an open ended education system), and I think I like the Kimmy I see very much now!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Playscript: HairDressing

The following HairDressing playscript and text is taken from my tertiary studies video for one of my assignments.

Children demonstrate their knowledge of context as they organise their play space, gather resources, and adopt the role of hairdressers. In acting as if they were hairdressers, they adhere to the rules, what customers do, and what hairdressers do.

As you read, *Note*:

1)The children's use of materials, (some more realistic than others),
2) How adults support children's ideas (providing resources or acting their roles),
3) The pretend and meta-communication strategies, demonstrated by children to establish shared meaning & guide & direct the play.

The following comes from a scene in the children’s play, Hairdresser, from the video.
*Cinderella (comes from another play theme in the video).

0: 31:27
Teacher A asks if “lost” child (Natalie) wants to follow her to the hairdressing play area.
(Scene changes to hairdressing area).

Natalie follows teacher A to hairdressing area.
Teacher A points out the correct “hairdressing signage” is there.
Hairdresser A acknowledges it.

Hairdresser A asks about “hairdresser things”
Teacher A tells Girl B she “ will ring up to get somebody to deliver for you”.
Immediately, (few seconds later) Teacher B comes in carrying a box (full of curls and ribbons).
Teacher A: “That’s very quick service!”.

Teacher B places box on the floor. “Twenty dollars”.
Hairdresser A slaps Teacher B’s hand (indicating she is paying for it).
Teacher B: “Here’s some change, Thank You”

*Cinderella comes into Hairdressing Area.
Hairdresser B (with short hair) brushes customer B’s hair.
Cinderella: ( to customer A)
“You like some curls on your hair?”.
Customer A indicates no.
“I know, I am just asking.”
Cinderella: (to customer B) “What would you like me to have on your hair?”
Cinderella: (to Hairdresser B ). “She wants some curls on”.

Hairdresser B wets hairbrush in water and brushes hair.
Hairdresser A comes in. She takes hairbrush (and dips it in water) and starts brushing Customer A’s hair. After a while, Hairdresser A starts rummaging for “hairdryer”

Hairdresser B brings curls and ribbons (in a basket). “Look what I’ve brought”.
Hairdresser B takes a strand of sparkly glittery string (to make a wig) and walks away.
Hairdresser A takes it and puts the basket down.

Customer A is sitting down waiting (looking around).
Hairdresser A is taking some bottles from the floor.
Customer A: “….you need my help?”
Hairdresser A: “No”.
Hairdresser B (who was working on the wig) gestures to her to go and sit back on the chair.
Customer A goes back to sit down on the chair.
(Hairdresser B is seen carrying wig back and forth. )

Hairdresser A places 3 bottles on the table.
Customer A chooses the dark pink bottle from the three.

Hairdresser A applies bottle on Customer A’s hair and starts brushing.
(Hairdresser B is seen carrying wig out of Hairdressing Area. )
Customer A chooses (one of two bottles) for Girl B to use from.
Customer A: (to Hairdresser A) “How long is this gonna take?”

Hairdresser B gives wig to teacher:
“Oh beautiful. Oh thank you. How much do I owe you?”
“No dollars, it’s free? Thank you.”

Related entries:
Event Based Play program Center (in Australia).
What is Event Play Based Approach?

What is Event Based Play Approach?

Text taken from Dockett, S, & Fleer, M (1999), Play and Pedagogy in Early Childhood: Bending the Rules, Australia: Harcourt Brace.

Event Based Approach:

Perry (1995) The children's ideas are central to an event-based approach. They are encouraged to re-create the events they have experienced. They develop their own play contexts by using open-ended materials provided by the teacher.

Yukiko: the role of the teacher is extremely important. The teacher needs to co-ordinate the variety of play themes, in terms of space use, resource needs and play entry and development .
Professionals have many opportunities to observe how children play. Since the focus of the play is determined by the children, themes can be both broad & extended over time, alowing a range of play skills to be observed. Planning for children's development is based upon these observations. (Fleer, 1997).

The children are grouped together at the begining of the session to discuss their ideas. They are
grouped together at the beginning of the session to discuss their ideas. They are actively encouraged to invite other chidlren to help them in their play.

After much discussion, the children create their play spaces, firstly by establishing a boundary. At the end of the session, the chidlren tidy up but do not pack away.

On the following day, at group time, the children will reflect upon their progress.The teacher will sensitively extend, assist & introduce new materials in order to support children's play.

Features of event based programs:
1. Play scripts are initiated by children.
2. Direction of play controlled by children.
3. They are not given prescriptive resources (such as hairdressing box).
4. Materials are open-ended.
5. Group times: children talk through what they would like to do and inviting others to join them.
6. Role of teacher: Only to help children organise play spaces, analyse & facilitate play.

The planning outcomes relate to developing children's ability to play together effectively, to use & organise resources, to support their play & to explore cognitive ideas within the context of their own playscripts.

Related links:
Event based play approach (in an Australian centre).

Play theories: Froebel & Montessori.

This text from Saracho & Spodek, (1995) Children's Play & Early Childhood Education: Insights from History and Theory, Journal of Education:

How play is used in programs today....often relates to how play has been conceived at various times in the past. Understanding how play has been interpreted throughout history can help teachers to better understand the nature of play & how to use it in early childhood programs.(Saracho & Spodek, 1995)

Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) was from German heritage and loved nature. He developed the word "kindergarten", and designed what is called the "Froebel gifts" (geometric blocks, pattern blocks, etc). Froebel's contribution to the education world was his ideas in recognising that children had unique needs and capabilities, and importance of the activities in the children's learning.

Through play, the individual learns that there is
1) unity in the universe
2) opposites can be resolved
3) materials can be combined to create diff. things.

Dr Maria Montessori (1870-1952)- is Italy's first trained female General Physician (GP). She had an interest in the needs of the mentally & disabled children. It was probably with the birth of her illegitimate son that sparked the interest to how she would pour her life & energies into studying the needs of children.

Montessori is particularly interested in how play developed the mind, body, brain & senses in terms of
1) gaining greater awareness of properties through use of the bodily senses.
2) sharpening abilities to gather & organise information.
3) organise sensory impression (through use of Practical Life & Sensorial activities).

Progressive Era:
play as one of the vehicles for learning.

John Dewey
: (1859-1952) is American & the father of "functional psychology".

His theories provided the basis for contemporary educational uses of children's play.
1) play to help children reconstruct their experience & gain meaning from it.
2) children learn to function at higher levels of consciousness and action (1900).
3) teachers were to create an environment to nurture play that would support desirable mental & moral growth (1916).

Event Based Play Centre (in Australia).

Nov 30th (written, but not posted up): This was my understanding about 21 days ago.....

Recently, I had to watch this two-hour long of video on event based play. This takes place in an Australian community children's centre, which is a collaboration of both the school as well as Childhood Education lecturers from University of Southern Queensland.

When I first watched the video, I had a hard time trying to understand what was going on. The children (4-6 year olds) were moving from place to place and it was hard to see what they were doing. Basically, that first clip was just to give an overall view of what was happening in that particular point of time.

Although it seemed to be, the children were actually doing their own thing in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Although they were doing their own thing and it seemed as though the teachers were not watching, it was revealed in the later part of the show that this was part of their learning process.

The particular kindergarten has spaces where children could move into "spaces" that were divided and the children themselves decide what they want to do with the space, and how they want use the space, (except for certain set designated areas, mainly the "making centers", where children find resources to construct materials for their games, the "circle time" area, and others. Not too sure, as this was not stated).

Among some of the games that I found most interesting was the "Cinderella" game, where the children decided (actually it was just one girl- the one who played Cinderella) who directed the whole thing, from who should play the main characters, and designated the roles to each one, to decorating the "teater" to "making the popcorn", to "inviting people to come watch the play".

You would think that without the teacher instructing, the children would not know what to do, but it was the children who decided how they wanted to do, (from preparing the backdrop, the flowers, "the popcorn", and inviting people to come watch the "play").

The other was this group of boys who were working on this "dinosaur garden" for a couple of days...Ok, that totally didn't interest me, as I am so not interested in dinosaurs, but the video means to show the progress of how the children developed their ideas for the dinosaur garden. They went about creating "towers" using paper rolls and tape, clay dinosaurs and painting them (and then waiting for it to dry), and how they added it to the play.
This went on for a couple of days (about two weeks, but I am not too sure about the duration though).

At the end of the day, the children will come into the "circle time" areas, and then discuss with the teacher and other children on what they have done, (that is their game), and how they can further scaffold or extend their games. The teacher will ask questions to the children such as,

1. Do you want to continue with this game?
2. Is there anything else they would need to extend to make/provide for the game, please ask the teachers for the resources.
3. If there is a play, who will take turns to be the "main character" for that day? If there are 3 people who wants to play "Cindrella", how will they solve the problem?

The main thing about the whole process is that, the teacher's role is as the facilitator, as well as a questioner. If she sees the children "managing the areas" in a way which may not be efficient, she would question them, but she would not tell them what to do. The end decision lies with the children, so that they are the ones who make the decisions themselves. Notice the teacher does not give the answers, but expect the children to discuss this among themselves.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A move towards activity based curriculum

As per this, I have said that most parents (at least in about five to ten years time) from now, would no longer want the academically inclined and rote memory style which is the style that is currently in a lot of kindergartens.

This would apply more so for (at least for) parents who have been educated in foreign universities for a while. I have parents from Chinese school background, had gone overseas and gone through that "culture shock".

These were some of the things that one parent noted: (the person is a lecturer in a local college).
1) Malaysian students have to be pushed by their lecturers to study. When you are over there, you are considered a mature adult, RESPONSIBLE for your own education.

If you don't study, you FAIL. (hence, wasting your own money). Here, lecturers have to make sure their students pass (and push and push and push, as well as FEED them answers). Here, students are like BABIES. Lecturers gotta take care of them.

2) There, you have to look for the lecturers. You make the appointment with the lecturer. Here, THE lecturer looks FOR you.

3) Reading and Writing are going towards "Making Meaning out of Reading, Writing & Print". No longer would it be just reading for reading's sake. Instead, Creativity & Individuality is a characteristic that will be expounded and valued, instead of a mass education system where everyone thinks alike and can't think out of the box, where if the boss says yes, it's a yes, and and everyone will nod their head unison.


A lot of these has to partly due to cultural constraints and of our Asian education system. The Asian role of the 'teacher" has always been to provide answers and they are expected to have all the answers, or else they are not considered *GOOD* teachers. Well, in my opinion, (as an educator myself), I disagree with that concept. I am only human and I only know that much. However, if I don't know, I would just have to say that I do not know everything. It's not so much a matter of "face", which in my opinion, is a very irreverent and silly concept. At least I don't go and commit harikana.

I was speaking to my principal today, and she voiced out the same perspective that I had stated earlier....Well, what can I say?

As globalisation take its toll, so would the world change. It is the Asian students who are moving over to the West to study, and not vice versa. Hence, even our local education system would be going in the same direction as well. The trend is moving back towards "activity based" curriculum for kindergarten. Perhaps I sound bias. What can I say?

I can't wait.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Financial planning & rights for the Disabled (in Malaysia).

As per this, I shall quote from the mag on some of the things they have written in terms of financial planning & rights for the disabled (in Malaysia).

In Malaysia, it is estimated a loss of RM4.48 billion to RM 6.38 billion because the disabled are excluded from contributing economically (hence working in jobs). As is known, if the disabled (more towards those who are just physically handicapped, visual or hearing disabled) are taught and socialised from young, they are capable of being independent & fending and earning financially for themselves

Our country is still about 20 years behind other Developed Countries such as Japan or Australia (according to a Special Needs lecturer! *lolz*), but that can be helped as our country is still a very young "infant".

To enjoy the benefits, rights and the legislation given to the disabled, the individual must be registered as "disabled" under Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia (JKMM) or any other government bodies.

The government has set up a Code of Practices for the Employment of Disabled Persons in the Private Sector / Kod Amalan Penggajian Orang Kurang Upaya (Kod OKU) in 2001.
Among some of the more important things (as noted in the legislation are):

In the Government Services Circular no.10/1998, 1 percent of the job opportunies is allocated to the disabled.

Income Tax Act.1967:

For the disabled individual tax payer, a further deduction of RM5,000 tax relief (added to the normal RM8.000 for able bodied).
Spouse: RM2,500 (added to the normal RM3,000)
In the Recent Budget 2006, the disabled child pursuing higher education will receive a RM9,000 tax relief. Also a further RM5,000 tax relief for purchase of disabled assistive equipment. (for which individual disabled individual).

Employers receive double tax deductions for salaries paid to disabled employee and training of any disabled non-employee.

EPF Act 1991:

Disabled members are allowed to withdraw all savings but with strict guidelines and submission of relevant documents.
The disabled person will also receive RM5,000 from EPF as a compassionate gesture.

Rights of the Disabled:

Sales Tax Act. 1972:

Sales tax has been exempted from assistive/supportive equipment. (such as orthopaeics appliances, hearing aids, wheelchairs). The disabled people can also apply for special funds to buy motorised tricycles and other devices from the National Welfare Foundation.

Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976:

If disabled children are put under custody of mother, she need not worry about finding extra income to support the disabled children for funding will still be the father's responsibility, and action can be taken against him.

Married Women and Children (Maintenance) Act. 1950 (Revised 1981):

The wife has the right to claim maintenance even before the divorce hearing. (able or disabled!).
If father fails, just refer to the Law Reform Act ler... ;-)

Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1971:
The deceased's estate will be reasonably divided among all dependents, here, referring to either son or daughters who are disabled and unable to maintain themselves, and also a (disabled) daughter who is not married.

If the deceased's will does not provide sufficiently, they have the right to request for provision to be given out differently from what is stated in teh will.

Housing: The government through Syarikat Perumahan National Berhad (SPNB) gives a price discount of 20 percent to disabled persons with low income.

Education: a monthly allowance is given to disabled children
RM25 in primary/secondary school.
RM3000 persuing higher education.

Transportation: up to 50 percent on tickets are given. including MAS, KTMB, Transnasional and Syarikat Prasarana Negara. They are also exempted from paying road tax. (applicable to local cars) and 50 percent discount on Govt. duty on local cars.

Communication: Telekom (its Pakej Penyayang), free monthly rental and free telephone enhanced facilities, (call waiting, call transfer services).

Establishing a business: A launching grant up to RM2,700 for the purpose of starting up a business. Additional grants however, will be given for business expansion.

Persistency is the Key: Be bold to ask.

I think that all of us would be guilty of it to a certain extent. Sometimes, when we are knowledgable in one area of knowledge, or expertise, we tend to act all 'high & might' and expect others to understand it too. Too "puffed up" in other words.

However, many of us fail to realise that there are others who are not looking at the same matter in the same perspective as we do, who may have never been exposed to the same matter as well. When they raise a question, or a question (which may seem SO OBVIOUS to us), they might be derided for asking such a basic question, or, the teacher/lecturer may give a response which seems to give the student the impression that they "should already know".

In my opinion, if I have to speak a second language (or use big words, or whatever), and a friend keeps asking me a million questions on it, (which I know is bad, but I JUST dont feel like answering anything that moment, and i knw by experience what to expect), I'd rather keep quiet and pretend I don't know what it is about.

Otherwise I'll pretend I had never heard of it, and only later reveal that I actually do know about it (but not necessarily to them), but it's just that I want to avoid competing, so that they can SHINE IN THE GLORY of their own knowledge, as that is WHAT THEY WANT ler.
(Anyway, if I really know something, it would show much later on, and there is no need to prove yourself through competing anyway).

Now, *back to the original topic...since I have digressed...*

I remember, when I was in Pre-U, a classmate of ours asked so many questions that she was given the label "verbal diarrhoea" by our New Zealander Economics lecture, Mike Naylor. The other classmates complained that she asked even the simplest questions, ones that they would not have bothered asking..... Nonetheless, this didn't deter from continually asking more questions. In the end, guess what?

She got straight As for Pre-U. Well, I don't know if this was an exception or if it was by chance a coincidence. But then again, she was already a recepient for full scholarship during the Pre-U programme....(so what can I say?).

What can I say? I say, KEEP ON ASKING QUESTIONs. Who cares what other people think ler. You pay to study. So you BE THE SMART ONE. Go and ask all the questions you need answers to. If the others dont want to know, that's THEIR Problem lar. (at least the lecturer will give you credit for the fact you are one of those students who are PAYING ATTENTION & IS INTERESTED in what HE has to say anyway!).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Links for special needs, inclusive education

Since I am doing my paper on special needs, here are some links that you all can refer to (thanks to my research from the Internet).
International Special Congress 2000: Including the Excluded
UNESCO Papers:
Malaysia (pdf.)
Malaysian Bar (2005) Jan/Feb:
Other links:
Malaysian Association for the Blind: (malaysian association of the blind)
Royal National Institute of the Blind:




National Federation of the Blind:

Lowering costs of operations.

Since I am not a student of economics, sometimes reading other people's analysis on market situations is enlightening for me.

Say for instance, AD's analysis on the AirAsia 2,000,000 free tickets. I didn't think of the, not so popular, yet unoccupied seats, but since the customers are paying for the airport tax (which is about 40 % of total charges), the operational costs are covered (or less for Air Asia to cover in this aspect, that is).

A way to lower the marginal cost of operations for Air Asia. Well, it works both ways. The same way where cinemas give the vouchers for buy one, free one tickets for the less popular movies, or charge less for matinee shows or in the morning, so that more people would come and watch. Of course, at night it does not make sense to do that as it will lower the margin of profit for the company, as everyone is flocking to the cinema. Comprende?

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Nevermind that (loads and loads of) people have not heard of Bronfenbrenner's Social Ecology Model , or the fact that his name is a mouthful! That's not important anyway. But it's important (that I know), coz I have a bloody assignment due next week.

Bronfenbrenner's work showed how the child could be affected (in their microsystem), by the macrosystem, (and vice versa) and all the different layers between (mesosystem, exosystem).

Today, in groups of four, my class did a case studies on the Malaysian Orang Asli who were displaced, and relocated to an urbanised area, to live in these one storey bungalow houses. The MacroSystem (whereby the need for proper documentation of birth certificate and MyKad is required for children to be able to enter school and look for jobs) is one of the ways that affect not only the poor, but the indigenous who have been relocated. Many of these people do not realise the importance of having to register their own children's birth, not to mention are so hard core poor, that they can't afford to even take the bus to town or go register their children.

As such, without the proper documentation and knowledge, the MacroSystem (The system that is set out by the govt) works against these people, leading them to be caught up in a vicious circle, and these people, without assistance, may continue to live very poor lives, and down many many more generations to come.

For the indigeneous, they are however, not socialised in the ways of the urbanised life, (being nomadic to begin with, take for example, the Penans of Sarawak), and being placed in an urbanised area (forced more likely), is truly a cultural shock for them. These people are not farmers, but they go around gathering shoots and food, and have not been taught the importance of using money. Where previously they were free to move, now they are expected to search for their own money.

Their children, are now expected to go to school. The mesosystem, in terms of socialisation, the children (the hardcore ones that is), are ostracised by others because they are so poor, that they refuse to go to school. Although these children understand the importance of education, yet the social part of it is one that could break or make these children in willingness to attend school.

Without the education, the children too end up in that vicious cycle of poverty, where they are unable to find high paying jobs, and this may continue down the generations...

[will write more later...]

Related Links:
Paquette & Ryan papers.
PSI Cafe

On an unrelated note, I was watching Legal Entanglement (currently on XHE- Channel 34) in which, the main character, Tracy, was published in the newspaper as having had an affair (as a mistress) to this big honcho of a lawyer when she was still at university. The lawyer, Tracy, was devastated (seeing the news!).

The first thing that came to my mind, is that, this mindset probably only prevails in Asian society. If it were published in the UK, or the States, most people would probably NOT bat an eyelid......*man*. If people are living in together these days, what difference does being a mistress makes? (in fact, in olden days, mistresses had "unspoken" power)......*rolls eyes*.

I am not being cynical, but that is a fact. (I think the chinese series is making an exaggeration out of that particular episode). This is cross-cultural differences for you ler....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Inter Cultural Communication: The Silent Dog's bite.

[wait here in this space]

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The bilingual speaker: New respect accorded to them.

Or even better, multi-lingual to be exact!

When I was much younger, my mother considered sending me to a chinese school and my dad opposed , and finally I was sent to a malay school. In most cases, the Chinese people who can’t speak any Mandarin are generally labelled "banana". Some of the chinese educated students (in school then, and even now!!) seem to have an issue about any chinese who are not able to speak or write any Chinese characters or Mandarin for that matter.

What do I say to that? Actually, I really could not care less whether I can speak or I can’t speak it. (I never did anyway to begin with!) But I did take up some classes.
Not so much because I want to learn, but because I HAVE to learn. It is not exactly my favourite language in the world, and I could care less about learning it, (I’d rather learn Spanish, coz it’s much more easier than French and is more similar to English).

The kids in school (a lot of them) speak Mandarin. In order to converse with them (or to make them comfortable in conversing with me), I had to learn some Mandarin in order to communicate with them.
Whatmore, with the current unit I am taking, Cross-Cultural Communication, it discourses on the importance of bilingualism and the advantages of being bilingual.

Among the things pointed out in the readings were that "children from non-speaking backgrounds who were ex posed to English at a preschool age had a strong desire to learn and function in English, and through this rejected their first/home language. This rejection resulted in a breakdown of cultural communication- in many cases having devastating effects for family backgrounds (Filmore, 1991).

I feel that this is the case with my family as well with my nieces and nephews (who are now residing in English speaking countries). When I was younger, I was practically a non-English speaker until...well.....I don’t know. For me, it was not really a case of such, but it was for my brother. When I was younger, he didn’t like the fact that I was always speaking in Cantonese and didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his friends! (my mother’s words!).

The other are my nieces/ nephews who are now overseas. Well, their grandfather is not pleased that the grandchild hardly/ barely speaks any Cantonese, but the thing is, it cant be avoided. The fact that there are barely any cantonese/mandarin speaking acquaintances around her, and the mere fact that her parents speak more "rojak" cantonese at home, does not really help much in the situation.

The new wave in ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching (sequential acquisition) now goes that "the emphasis in learning should instead be placed on maintaining the first/home language in a way that allows children to learn by bringing their basic linguistic background to the fore. If the first language is well developed and understood, the second language will follow the same pattern" (Giugni, 2002).

This statement is agreed by many others, including Cummins (1991) who states that successive bilingualism allows children who are already literate in one language would be able to transfer their reading skills to the other, depending on the extent of similarity between both languages, which to some extent I agree to.

In fact, research has shown that the students learn best (at the age range of 15, plus minus a few years), as they already have a basic grasp of their own home language. However, they may lack the skills in pronunciation as compared to younger learners who may achieve native pronunciation as compared to adult or teen learners.

Many parents are going into the one parent-one language approach (simultaneous acquisition) , whereby one parent strictly speaks in one language. I have seen this happen, with a friend of mine, whose mother only speaks Hokkien, and his father speaks English. This was not done intentionally, but merely out of convenience, and the friend of mine is fluent now in both languages. In the process, however, he picked up Cantonese from watching television serials (and friends as well!) and the Malay language from school.

Once the child has developed cognitively to understand that both parents are actually speaking different languages (and the child may only attain this level of cognitive understanding after the age of 5 and above!) it is important that parents continue to model proper grammatical structures for the child to follow after.

Another thing that a lot of Malaysians do, (and not just Malaysians either!) is code-switching, whereby the speaker usually mixes language to enhance communication. This is common when we can’t find the appropriate word to describe the situation or object, and we switch to either make the listener more comfortable or to better describe the situation.

In Malaysia, this is commonly known as "rojak" (which is very apparent!). However, this is not a wise practice to do in front of the child (if you intend to do the one parent-one language approach), but is fine within the context of conversing with other adults and friends. Constantly doing that will lead the child to
imitate the same, as well as cause confusion in the child to which language belongs to which!

There’s actually a lot of studies that has gone into this aspect of cross-cultural communication, and it is important that teachers of foreign languges (or those intending to teach English as a second Language) be aware of the current trends and the developmental stages of the learners and their learner styles before attempting to do so.

Even if you just intend to teach tuition, having some psychology background knowledge and strategies can really help you avoid headaches and avoid demotivating the child too much if they don’t seem to be progressing much in their learning!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Again, the chinese vs malay schools issue!

Minishorts has actually written an interesting entry on Chinese school vs Malay school.

I think she's worried too much about the future, especially the future of our public schools.

If she is in the education line, she would know the horrors of what an education system like that can do to the creativity of our young minds. Too much rote memory is not good for the young children, and what is the good of so much work books? I think it is redundant!

The children go to school at 7 and come back by 3. They dont see the sun in the morning when they come in, and by the time they leave, it is almost 4pm. They carry two heavy bags to school. In the morning, they have the MORNING HOMEWORK. After lunch, they are given EVEN MORE HOMEWORK for the Afternoon.

10 subjects and doing homework till 11pm late at night! By the time the child is done, they are so tired they don't even think of going to play! I think it is so *sad*. That is what is happening to children. They find NO MEANING in doing all the homework.

Week after week are tests. Tests. Tests. Tests.

Hello, and for children at 7 years old? I wonder how they cope. My former children all look so pale these days and complain that they hate going to school.

Futhermore, what is the point of so much homework if there is no time to *assimilate* the information?

My best solutions:

1)Send them to private schools. (if you can afford it).


2) Send to Malay schools, and send them for Mandarin tuition.
Thanks, but I don't want my children going to chinese schools.
I would rather my children have less work and more time to play, and enjoy their childhood.
Study, they must, but happy they must also be!

Semester 3 started!!

Semester 3 at USQ has officially started!!

I am doing three units (or courses, as the Aussies call them!).

1. Home and Society.

2. Play Based Pedagogies.

3. Special Needs Education in Malaysian.

For Play Based Pedagogies, it talks about the play curriculum set in Australia, where students have to watch a video (which is converted to cd format at this point of time!) which features a kindergarten that adopts the play based approach to learning and observe, reflect and make meaning out of it.

What is so good about a play based approach? Well, I will know more after doing this course. At this point of time, it is still something that is still new to me, although I have done the initial "Learning through Play" unit as well as a unit on Play during my Montessori course.

When we talk about learning through play, it does not mean that the child is left to play by themselves and can do anything they want. It means to say that the teacher has to be watching what the children and doing, and writes is down, and at appropriate times, come in during the play time to interact with the children to see what they are doing. The children will explain to the teacher what they are doing, and she will write this all down.

At the end of the day, the children will come together in a group to discuss what they have done and the children do actually sit down (4, 5 and 6 year olds!) and listen to what their friends have to say. The student teachers who were watching the first episode in the video were pretty impressed by it!

In related to what the children have done, the children may do writing, or, drawings based on it,
or may do projects based on it as well. The teacher may have to look up on children's books based on that subject to leave in the book centers and introduce it to the children during reading time and let the children go through the book after that. This may lead to another topic altogether.

However, this is not done in one day, but over a period of many weeks and maybe months, just as how it is done in the Reggio Emmilia program. (I have to read up on that as well!). Of course, one has to remember that the curriculum that they have over there is different from the ones we have here. There is not such a set nor structured program as we have here, and the programs are designed to meet and scaffold needs of the individual child, which is not possible here.

Anyway, this is pretty superficial knowledge, based on what I have read in my previous readings so far.

For Special Needs, I will have to choose to do a write up on a Special Needs Association or a child, and it can be any special needs thing. Pretty open-ended assignments, so I need some time to think about what I want to write about.
I was thinking of doing something on the Deaf & Dumb Association, since I learnt some sign language at one point of time, and I find it pretty useful. (when I feel too lazy to talk!!! *lolz*)
Anyway, according to Dr. Irene, there's less research done on this aspect as well, so it could be something worth looking into.

If anyone wants to come with me to check out the Deaf & Dumb Association (if I do choose to go there,) send me an email or something!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Timeline of an institution.

In context of this entry, it would refer to the kindergartens which are operating in Malaysia as at this point of time.

In the past 5 years or so, new kindergartens have been mushrooming up in my area. This is even more so at the centre I am in service at. I was just reflecting on the timeline of a kindergarten here locally, especially those which are of sole-proprietorship, and not a franchise. Many principals either hold a diploma or a basic certificate then, which would meet the minimum requirements of opening a kindergarten.

However, from my perspective, having a diploma is not adequate, especially as childhood education is dynamic and approaches change from generation to generation, and year to year. Fortunately, the authorities have upgraded now the requirements to a 2 year diploma level in opening a kindergarten. In my opinion, even that is not adequate to actually manage the planning of a kindergarten, including the staff, parent-teacher relations that studies may not have been covered in many basic teaching courses.

Among the problems in Malaysia is the issue of licensing, where there are many unlicensed kindergartens opened and there are not adequate staff from the authorities to go around to check whether these so called “kindergartens” are actually registered. Most teachers are not adequately trained, and many do not hold a degree, which is a reason why they are not trained in the proper strategies in handling the child emotionally and socially.

I was in this particular kindergarten, which is a franchise, which has their own program and textbooks. I was there for a short while, and from what I saw, it was not very child centered as it focused a lot on writing and academic work, and not so much activity based. Yet, these kindergartens pose a threat as competition to other long established ones.

Today my colleagues went around to scout at a particular kindergarten, and came back with feedback. They could not introduce themselves as preschool teachers as the threat of competition is something which is real and prevalent. Here it is not so much of the motive of providing what is best for the child, but more of a mercenary motive.

The school fees charged by that kindergarten was very much higher than the one in my school, but this is because the school employs a curriculum that of an activity based, and not focused so much on academic and written work. The school boasts the usage of an educational approach on a "child-centered, teacher initiated" approach. In my perspective, that should be right methodology, but because teachers here are not trained, they do not understand what it means and are only teaching within what they have been brought up or exposed to.

Reflecting on this, I feel that it is not really so much of the tutelage fees, that parent may be reluctant to pay, as I would have thought initially. It is true that there are parents still, who bargain about the school fees, even though it may be very low already! That is a minority though.

The much educated parents (especially those who are educated overseas, and exposed to western approaches), would themselves look for kindergartens who use the same approach. From my perspective, I do not think that parents actually want their children to have so much academic work, and would actually prefer more activity based programs.It is just that a huge majority of our society is like that, especially the less exposed, and those who prefer the chinese style of education, which focuses on rote memory and lots of writing.

These activities, as any trained educator can tell you, are not suitable for young children, as much as people would like to in their own mind to think so. I had a former student who came to kindergarten today for our end of year school party (she is now in primary 1 of a chinese school), and she complains that she wants to go back to kindergarten as there is too much homework in Primary 1 and dislikes it immensely. The only thing that keeps her going she says is the "company of her friends".

Sometimes adults neglect to listen to the voice of the children and instead impose their own wants and needs on the child. Unfortunately, it is highly improbable to provide individualised attention to children in our public schools, as classes are big, with as much as 50 children stuffed like sardines in one class, and the limited number of schools (physically existing) that is. Hence, the need for tutorial classes which is essential these days for the child to succeed in class. *this shall be another topic altogether on another day though*

In about ten years time from now, most of the parents would be my age, or even younger. I would be a parent myself too. I would predict and I would not be wrong if I were to say that parents would be looking for a more activity based education program as what it is I can see from this sample of feedback. Solely-owned kindergartens have to move with the times, and as old as the kindergarten is, they have to learn new approaches, in order to compete with the new ones, that would appeal to desires and needs of new parents. This also includes the incoming flux of diverse ethnic races into our country and to have a curriculum that shows respect to the multi-cultural spread of children and families that enrol in.

I attest this, as I remember the words of my lecturer, who told us that her own kindergarten had a drop in enrolment as she did not think it was important to market or advertise her kindergarten to go with the social trend that time, and when the students left, no one knew the existence of her kindergarten. She was a trained educator, with a good program, but not in marketing. Fortunately, she wised up and now her kindergarten is still thriving!

Kindergartens that use an academic approach, would have to change to a more activity based approach, and move along and conform to the expectations of the main social trends to meet the parents' need and wants. It is either a go with or die thing!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The training to be a teacher.

Off and on when I meet up with my friends, they ask me about my profession. Well, more so recently, as I have announced to them that I would be furthering my studies to Australia.

They ask, if I did my Montessori, how come I am studying at USQ?

Well, this is because Montessori is only up to diploma level, and the tertiary studies is well... tertiary! The Montessori Diploma can be used to articulate into the uni program (this applies more so where my college, Summit International College has a MOU with the university anyways!).

Yes. You guessed right! It is time I informed my avid readers that I am finally going Down Under in about a couple months time from now. I would be there for about 9months, equivalent to one academic year.

Today I met up with an old high school friend of mine, Jen Ee and his wife, Mavis who just got married recently. It really made me feel *old*. That's cause he's only a year elder than me. *lolz*

He asked me this question:
Can anyone qualify to walk into the kindergarten and be a teacher?

The answer to that: it is an obvious NO!

Firstly, a undergraduate qualification in any other area, i.e, banking, I.T, finance, economics, etc, does not mean that the person is able to practise as a trained educator. Even if the person is a mother,or has children, does not mean that AUTOMATICALLY qualifies them to be a teacher.

If it were college students being taught , it would be a different case altogether. But at preschool level, many children are unable to express themselves verbally. They are at that level of learning to socialise, and some even babbling! We do not know how they think, unlike university students, who are already considered independent thinking adults, and know how to differentiate right from wrong.

Learning to be a teacher, means that the teacher has to be trained in the basic foundations and knowledge of the child, psychology, developmental areas & stages, HOW TO teach, and how to use the materials to bring across the knowledge and transmit to the growing child, as well as foster interest in the child to want to learn and read so that they can be a successful, interactive, sociable, useful member of society, able to be overcome problems. and etc. etc. (the list of responsibilities goes on...)

Let me ask you a question: Would you want someone who is unqualified, and not trained in the knowledge and ways of the child to teach your own child?

Preschools that employ qualified teachers would expect a higher cost in terms of montly school fees. If one wants quality preschool experiences for their child, and yet, want to save on the tutelage fees, well, as the chinese proverb says, "yat fun cheen, yat fun for". (what you pay is what you get).

As said, in countries like Australia, you can't even apply for a permit to be a teacher unless you have an additional 4th year, compared to Business students who only need to complete 3 years for their general degree. In fact, the younger the age group is, the more training is required for the teacher!

Of course, the problem is many people have a dim view of going into the profession. Although it provides a steady income and job security, however it only provides enough for an individual to survive with no extras.. I think the same may apply for other countries. Well, we'll see about that in future.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Documenting professional practice

Documenting professional practice through a portfolio: Empowerment of self by Dr.Joy Goodfellow
Now, this is something that teachers in Malaysia should do. Reflecting on their experiences, and their lesson planning. The question is, do we, and why not?

The teaching profession is a profession like any other. It is because it is so, that teachers should document their professional practice.

Winsor (1998):
'Each teacher's portfolio is a display of individual goals, growth, and achievement, as well as a testimony to acquired knowledge, and professional and personal attributes. In other words, it may be the most valuable three-ring binder a teacher ever possesses.'

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Experiences in Context.

I was just reflecting on this, and I would like to say something in a non-judgemental and non-bias away.

Well, this is particularly, because a classmate of mine had stated that she disagreed with what I had written in a childhood editorial.

I feel that each educator has a valid reason for how they see things. This in particular, owes to that particular point of time, where they come from, and the educational and cultural settings that they are in.

Each educator has experiences that they reflect and learn from, unique in their own individual manner, and no one else has the right to discredit it.

I say this, because when I was in class the other day, I was reflecting on some issues. Personally, I feel that it is not appropriate for an educator to judge another educator on what they think is the best practice for how they would like to teach children. An outright lambasting, without any thought of discussing an issue out or concrete thought to put an issue into perspective, is really an accusation that does not hold water, therefore, is not worthy of any time wasted to think about it.

Just as two chinese families, who may be brothers, if one brother decides to bring their family up in a different manner, and the other brother in a dis-similar manner, neither has the right to interfere in each other's family unless permission was sought and given.

In a similar manner, I would not like my parents, nor my brother to interfere with how I bring my children up, because there are values and practices which I would like to instil in my children, and I would not want anyone else except my spouse to be part of it. I may not agree with the way my father brought me up, but that does not mean I would agree to him interfering in the way I discipline my own children.

Of course, the fact that I put my research and thoughts on paper and publish it, means that, there would be people who may not agree to it.

Now, that is where and why I should be prepared in my mind to make my own defence should such occurences take place.

Preparation of music experiences for children.

I find that when I play the music (or tune) on a radio (in the background) before I introduce the song,
the children can get it. As compared to if you are just teaching the song then. What I did a lot was, when I send my children home after school, I normally test out the songs with the youngest child to see how they will respond to it. If the youngest child can respond to it, the older ones would not be a problem. But it is not the same if vice versa...

My observations have made me realise that it is easier to teach or introduce songs to older children, (5 and above), but for younger children, (4 and below), it is a bit difficult. This is due to reasons such as, the children's spoken vocabulary is not there, and developmental reasons, the children just do not seem to respond to it. (My group of 3 & 4 year olds, in particular).

Songs which have lyrics repetitive makes it easy for the children to grasp the words of the song. Songs that have too many words, too wordy, will just float and is beyond my children's comprehension level, so much so that they lose interest whilst listening halfway to the song.

Children also like & enjoying listening to tunes which sound quirky, squeaky, greasy and of fast beat. Even though there are no words to it, the child requested that I replay the song over and over again. *Cute, huh?*

I can say, in preparing and planning suitable music experiences for children, in my opinion, firstly is that the teacher has to be trained in the technicalities of music. The rest is based on trial and error and what the teacher can deduce from it, and seeing the children's responses to it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Don't play-play.

Maybe I am too good-hearted. But I guess not. Perhaps I am too naive and think too well of people. I was given s**t from a classmate who told me I should stop writing for my editorial.

She said my work was *bulls**t*

This is the first time I have received it. But I also know that this won't be the last. So I will have to get myself ready for the rest that may follow. I was upset of course. I did cry as well.

To my friends, thank you for your support. But this is what I will say back to her in return. If you consider yourself a friend, but are not giving me any helpful concrete constructive criticism that would actually help me in any manner to improve my writeups, please keep it to yourself.

If you think that what I am writing is bullshit, perhaps you should write a better one and show me. At least I am doing what I like and making the effort, but you are not.

If you want to make a difference, stop complaining and start writing one yourself. I may not be the best, but I took the time out to research and read for my writeups.Thanks, but I will take this in stride and continue writing.I will not stop writing for anyone, and especially not for myself.

Have a nice day.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Intellectual Property: A serious issue.

Many things have happened in the past one week since I wrote this. I haven't had the time to sit down and write a part 3 on the above, with my much limited time on hands.

The issue of intellectual property comes up today as something pertinent to the above happened in class.

Many of my classmates have done the assignment of childcare and context in Malaysia, and their assignments have been returned since, with a spectrum of varying grades. Among them was a student, whose work has scored almost perfect. Now, she made a presentation today in class, using the powerpoint presentation that the she had created.

I was late, so I didn't get to watch the entire presentation. *my bad, huh?*
The students all requested if they could make a hardcopy of her presentation, to which she declined, saying to the effect that her work would be published soon, because she has kinda "given up" the rights to this publisher.

If an author submits an article to an editorial, and is paid for it, who then holds the rights to the article printed? The issue is compounded by the fact that the author has not been made to sign any kind of contract in to whom the rights to the article has been published.

All the entries in this blog are protected under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial NoDerivs 2.5 license. The literary work here falls under the boundaries of Copyright Act 1987 (Malaysia).

Please ask for permission before you extract anything from here.

Related links:
Who holds the rights?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Quality Taska/Tadika: Part 2.

This is a continuation of my previous entry.

This entry seems to have garnered the most response from readers so far, so I shall try to address some of the questions raised.

I shall have to use the Malay term, so that readers can differentiate between both services, as there is the tendency to mix up what is Childcare and what is Kindergarten. Just to re-iterate, TASKAS / CHILDCARE CENTRES are a different set of establishments compared to TADIKAS/ KINDERGARTENS.

As said, both establishments need a different license to run, but in Malaysia the situation is a bit different here. Tadikas are allowed to have taska services, but they need to apply for separate licenses. Taskas services run until about as late as 6 to 8pm at night (depending on the location, or demand).

Tadikas run until about 3pm, and I feel that with a lot of children going to chinese schools in Primary 1, a lot will and are begining to cater for the older 6 year old group (staying until 3pm). Of course, that too depends on the Tadika itself, or if parents are willing to pay more for that (which is currently still an option).

From what I know, under the new ruling, in Malaysia, institutions that do not have the word TASKA or TADIKA, tend not to be registered, except if the school has already long been established before the ruling came about, so they do not fall under that category.

If the name of the centre is in English, parents have to make their own investigations still to check whether the centre is credible or not.

If the centre has a license, it would show that the centre has at least met the minimum basic SAFETY requirements for quality set out by the government when the authorities came to check.
This is about at least the most parent should look for, as many centres in Malaysia are not registered, and this takes away a lot of the credibility and yes, financial "rice pot" from centres which are registered.
Lack of manpower by the authorities in Malaysia is another reason why unregistered centres still prevail.

The requirements for local TADIKA teachers are currently a certificate in teaching & SPM. Of course, if there is a diploma or degree, that obviously would be preferable. However, the number of TADIKA teachers that hold a diploma is a handful, and as for degrees, that is even less than a handful. This too depends on the Tadika itself. :-P

The salary of a kindergarten teacher, in local TADIKAs, I shall say, is hardly enough to make ends meet, except unless one is employed in an international institution, or the teacher takes up another job.
It is preferable for international employees to work in an international school/ institution, as the school would cater better for international staff (legislations and all). A lot of international schools require a degree (regardless of major), and their regulations to hire/employ differs.

TADIKA or Kindergarten teachers should be professionally trained, to a certain level, hopefully, a diploma level, to get the accreditation they deserve. In other countries, teaching children at Kindergarten level is a professional vocation.

In countries like Australia, teachers who handle a class require a 4 Year degree before they are given a licence, whereas the Manager of the Kindergarten only require a 3 year degree (since they do not really have to handle the children, and handling adults are always much easier to handle than the children anytime.)
This differs from country to country. Requirements in NZ is a Teaching Diploma but the government will upgrade requirements to a degree in about 5 years time (they hope that is. haha!). It too depends on the social and culture context of the country as well.

The younger the age group of the class is, the more important and paramount that the teacher IS & SHOULD be professionally trained.

Unless the current mindset of Malaysians change, the current situation that prevails in Malaysia for Tadika teachers will remain as it still is. As for change anyway, it will still take TIME for that to happen.

I shall write more on quality Taska centres later. Please wait for Part 3. ;-)

Quality ChildCare essay back!

Got my essay on Quality ChildCare back from the college today.

I passed!!

Woo hoo!!!

*floating on Cloud Nine now!*

Will go through what my lecturer noted in my essay and share it will you people later.

See ya!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Don't give up.

Let us do it step by step,
Do not worry if it's wrong,

Easy or difficult,
It does not matter at all.

Try again, Try harder,

Don't give up,
Take your time.

We can always try again,

Do not worry if it's wrong,

Easy or difficult,

Until we have done it right.

Try again, Try harder,

Don't give up, Take your time.

By Malaysian ECE Songwriter: Victor Tan.

I was reflecting upon this today.

What do you think?

I feel that a lot of Chinese parents (or Asian parents) expect their children to get it right the first time, and failing the first time is very shameful indeed.
Second chance, is probably not a term found in our "culture".

But isn't persistency what drove Thomas Alva Edison to invent the light bulb?

Just because a person may not do well academically does not mean that they will forever be failures.

Just because a student may not excel well mathematically does not mean that they will not excel in other academic areas.

I feel that this drive may have even crept through down to preschool level.

However, If a student fails due to mere laziness, they deserve to be reprimanded. SEVERELY.

New parents are, and tend to be very idealistic about what their children can achieve.
But few years down the line, REALITY normally hits them.

Once they see their own children having a stress breakdown due to undue pressure, they will normally back down from pressuring their children too much.

However, that does not mean that they can't hope, ya know!

The reason I say that, is because when I was younger, I had many friends who think that the only they could gain their parents affections is through excelling academically. I feel that it is a very unhealthy practice, as these friends of mine had low self esteem, until at least they reached college.

I have friends, who are pitted against their own siblings, and the amount of affection they get varies depending on how well they excel academically.

You can imagine how they felt

This extends even to my own family lar....

I survived. But the journey down that route was a long, tough one.

Sometimes parents do not understand that giving too much affection to one child will be detrimental and have adverse reactions in other members of the family. But I think that new parents, perhaps, are getting more educated on it these days.

One thing I can say, no matter how badly my children (when I do have kids!) did academically, I would still accept and love them for they are, but at the same time, will keep on encouraging and motivate them to perform their best. That should be the way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I know I said I wouldn't write anything, but this is something worth writing down! Well, the kindergarten was interviewed for TV! I was picked to be interviewed.

*well, for obvious reasons, which I shall not make known!*

The programme is a special one for Children's Day, and will be aired one of these Saturdays for it. My interviewer will inform me when it will be broadcasted!

Imagine that, on real life tv!

Ok, I am sorry, but still, I can't reveal the name of the kindergarten, as this would invade the privacy of the children. Much as I would like to give the school some media publicity, at the same time, I would like to remain impartial and professional with my work, notably those the children whose observation I am noting, and I do not want people to think that I am promoting only my kindergarten just because it carries the name Montessori.

I was informed this morning and had to drive off early in the morning to one of the other centres, so I couldn't stay in my base centre this morning. Obviously, I had to change to a more suitable attire accomodate the shooting. The interview took place in Malay.

Well since our school just had their school concert recently, one of the 5 year old classes presented their Alley Cat dance song and the videographer just took it all in. They then went to each class to shoot each class.

I was working in this class, (3-4 year olds). The teacher wanted to present the Number Rods to the children, so I worked on this small group of children with it. I think the children were more interested in the Rods than the videocam. It was interesting to note that the children didn't show any self consciousness. They must have got immune to it to the amount of photography that took place during the concert, with practically all the parents having one.

We did a pre-recording practice where the person who interviewed me gave me the questions first and we did a practice. The interviewer said that the video would be edited at the studio, so even if I did make any mistakes, the viewers wouldn't know!

They mostly asked me stuff about the school and some questions ( like what DZOF interviewed me for our blogger meet up at MidValley, which was in English instead). I must have got practice from there, heh? ;-)

Will tell you more later when I hear from them!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Music & Movement exam.

Ok, I will be having my Early Childhood Music & Movement unit exam this Friday.
Am currently busy practising the percussion instruments, remembering the lyrics, creating hand actions, memorizing the notes for the pitch singing and studying for the written exam, so I can't really update till after Friday.

Meanwhile, be patient, and pray that I will do well for it ya!!
Luv you all !
God bless.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Learning skills through music.

Next Friday, I will be having my Childhood Music & Movement course grading exam. Wish me the best ya!

One of the requirements for the exam is that students have to work together in a group playing percussions to two songs prepared by the lecturer as well as a group dance. Sometimes people think that being good at playing an instrument alone, or playing solo, is more than adequate.

However, to perform harmonious sounding notes & music, it requires that not only the person playing the instrument is skilled & knows what s/he is playing, but requires co-ordination and timing with the rest of the band/orchestra and that takes time, experience and skills as well.

Can you count how many skills those are??

This is something that we have to keep reminding ourselves. So, the next you see a band or the orchestra playing, remember how much effort and practice it took them to even put on that short (or long hours) of show!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Blog intro: by Mom's Daily!

I have always wondered about people doing an intro entry on me...

Well, now I know lar.

Mom's Daily has done one for me!

I'm so pleased! Thanks Lilian!

Mathematics: A Large Number Card experience.

After presenting the Touch Boards 2 to the children, I worked on the letters of the sound with the children. I asked them to guess the sounds and letters of the corresponding objects on the pictures given on these flash cards. The flash cards are used in conjunction with the reading texts the children are working with in class.

As the names of the objects were printed behind the cards, all I had to do was to turn the cards so that the children could check if they had got the sounds correct!

The children were so happy! Then after, we sang a song in relation to each picture flashed.

Today, before distributing the plates out, I asked the children if they could remember what I had told them day before. The children could tell me that putting plates on their heads were dirty and if they ate out of it, "choong-choong" (worms) could grow and give them a tummy ache!

After that, I went up to an elder class to work with on another lesson.
I presented Large Number Cards with an elder class. The cards were arranged from the units to the thousand cards (40 cards in total!), and the children could pick the correct cards when asked.

Sometimes I wonder if there is any use if children working with such large numbers?

I mean, they would not really use (unless I really saw them working with it!). The children had previously worked with the Golden Beads materials, so quite a number of them could tell me the names of it straight away (but referring to it by way of 1000 squares, although it was a written symbol).

Hei, at least this tells me that the children remember something from their previous lesson! It is not gone to waste, nonetheless!

Monday, October 03, 2005

No playing with your food (or plates for that matter!)

During break time, some of the children had a bad habit of taking the bowls and either twirling it around with their fingers or putting it on their heads. My colleague, LY was in a fix over it. So before having our break today, I told the children that I had observed some of them doing it. So I told them a nice little story on how unhealthy it was to do that.

I told them that the hair has a lot of dead skin, bacteria and many other extra things, and if they put the food into it, (after putting it on their heads), all the bacteria will go into food and back into the stomach, and "choong-choong" or worms will grow in it and they wouldn’t like it if they got a bad tummy! (which is true anyway!)

I also told them that the plate was not a toy plate for playing, and if they want that, it would have to be toy plates specially meant for that purpose.

The story seemed to work, as none of them played with the bowl after that!

Our 10th Annual Graduation & Concert!

On Saturday, the kindergarten had its 10th Annual Graduation & Concert at a Golf & Country Club Resort nearby. Three schools participated, with almost 100 over children graduating, clad in their black mortar boards and gowns.

It took me forever to find a proper attire to dress as the M.C for that day. I probably took an hour before I could come up with the most suitable one. It was a nice maroon purplish reddish suit. Just lovely! I have lovely pictures from the event, but I will post them up later, ya? The suit even matched my hair, which I has recently just cropped. Very matching!

The ceremony started at 10pm and ended at 1pm. But teachers and parents arrived as early as 8.30am onwards. Praise God for the event took place without any glitches.

The children had really practised weeks and weeks for their dance items, and finally it is over! What a total relief! I had rallied my friends to pray for the entire event, and my friends were all sending well wishes and text messages to encourage me for the event!

After the event, the entire academic and administration staff took a group photograph and adjourned for a high tea tete-a-tete session at the clubhouse below. (BTW, the food sucked! One of the worst buffets I have ever had in my entire life!!)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Expectations of our children.

I found this article by Zainul Arifin in the NST recently. It was yesterday's.

Well, I should not be surprised that Education Malaysia has commented on it as well. Well, they beat me to it. Nevermind.
In an age where six-year-olds are sent to mental arithmetic
classes, and Primary One pupils are expected to be able to read and write and
are given homework on the very first day of school, children are being forced to
carry a heavy burden of expectations. They live in a world where there is less
and less time for children to be children.
I can attest to that. Children as young as 5 in my school (FYI, it is ONLY integrated Montessori) already have mental arithmetic classes. Well, the classes are held twice a week. The youngest is 5. The basic requirements for entering a Mental Arithmetic class is that the child has to already know his numbers (1-10) and understand concepts of basic numbers, counting and subtraction. Well, at least!
But I am sure many of them have superior thumb-eye
co-ordination, owing to prolonged exposure to video games
Now, that is very funny. But that can't be avoided. Each generation has its own new set of gadgets to play with. Unless the parents themselves make it a point to do something about it.
I was ok at other subjects though!

When National Service was introduced, the volume of protest,
some of it very hysterical, from parents might have led one to think the
Government was sending the teenagers to the battlefield. In times of war,
18-year-old teens do get sent to the frontlines to die for the country. Here
some parents were crying buckets over what is essentially a holiday

If I had children, I may miss them? But I think they have to let go at some point of time. Just look at Singapore! The men went through National Service and turned out fine. Finer men, in my opinion! I can't very well say why the parents will object, being not a parent myself.

Well, it can't be helped that Asian parents want their children to do well academically. It is the way we live our lives. Chinese culture predominantly has placed much importance on education achievement. I am not too sure about the other ethnicity though, and it definitely is not so much the case in Western societies either.

But one thing I can say. There is definitely a need for more trained teachers to communicate across to the parents itself that academic achievements is not the only thing that we can judge a person by. Coz when a person starts working, people do not really care what happened to you in your childhood days, or how badly you fared.

What matters though is, your academics may affect your chances to get a good scholarship or places at the best university! That is reason enough that children should do at least, fairly well in their studies.
Well enough to proceed to the next level in life, equipped to face the real world, and not lacking in social skills. Most importantly, be happy and not lacking in manners. That is what I would aspire for my own kids anyway!

As they say, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

I don't want a dull Jack for any son of mine any time soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Tadika/Kindergarten Concert Rehearsal.

Today the kindergarten had its pre-concert rehearsal. Children from all three 3 different schools gathered together at a golf club near Sri Petaling. The teachers voted against a full dress rehearsal as it would take up a very long time for the children to change from and back into their school uniform. They only had about less than 3 hours to practise, and get back to their own respective schools.

I have been saddled with the responsibility of the Masters of Ceremony. *heh*. Yup, I have to prepare a long long speech and prepare all the lead ins and lead outs for the script. Something that requires more than just first level of creativity, and from what I can see, I would not be too happy with first level of creativity either!

The rehearsal went well & in good time! The children managed all their numbers in the short time allocated, and it was not chaotic. The past 10 years of experience has given both the principal and director experience in managing events, since both of the former and latter hail from an advertising background as well! The helpers had brought adequate refreshments for the children during the course of the rehearsal.

After the rehearsal ended, the children went back to their respective schools. One branch had a bus booked, as it needed to ferry the entire school, and it was quite far away from the golf club. The other & my branch was much nearer, so we relied much on parent support to help ferry the children back.In other words, car pool.

Petrol these days is not cheap, you know?

PPS Review podcast up for downloading!

DZOF has finally put up the PPS Review (episode 8) from the bloggers meet up.

Go to the site to download the podcast! (21 MB)

*okay, I don't want to steal his bandwith and all, so just go straight there, ya!*

Take your time and leave the computer on!

Go read a book,


watch re-runs of Malaysian Idol and swoon at Daniel,

read Shakespeare or something.

Been promoted on another blog!

Anne.Teaches.Me listed me on her blog!!

Isn't she a sweetie?!

I found out about it through Technorati.....hehe..well, this is an edublog after all! :-)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Children showing love for one another.

I have this yellow sunny air freshener in my car. It is in the shape of a door hanger, and made for hanging. As such, there is absolutely no way I can catch it onto my air cond (like the ones in the ad which was inspired by the automatic gear!). I hang it onto my car wiper stick function.(whatever u call it) beside the steering wheel.

The other day, I found an empty air freshener (same brand from inside my closet) and decided to give it to one of the two boys, Nicky & Jasper who sit with me at the front. (it's illegal in other countries, but nevermind). This is Malaysia after all!

Anyway, I decided to give the empty container (since the both of them keep taking and playing with it each time they come into my car), to one of the boy. I decided to give it to Nicky, the elder boy.

I told Nicky he could have it (he's 4 +). and Jasper (3 years). Then I told Jasper that I will give him the other one when the one in my car is empty.

Well, guess what?

Nicky decided to give the empty one to Jasper, and then he told me that he can have the one in my car when it becomes empty!
Jasper didn't know that, so he asked me if he could have the one in the car when it became empty, and Nicky told him that he's giving him the empty one and has already put it in his bag!!

What a generous hearted boy! I am sure his mother will be so proud of him! Now, wouldn't you like to have that kind of brother? They are not brothers in any way though!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A lecturer & student's perspective of Toowoomba.

Dr. Irene was tellling us that when she visited one of the childcare centres in Toowoomba, the centres used cloth nappies. This was about 10 years ago. That said, she mentioned that this centre was very environmentally aware that instead of using plastic nappies (like Pampers!), which is not bio-degradable and expensive, the cloth nappies would be sent to a service centre to be washed and desterilized.

(That also provides a vocation to provide jobs and saving the environment at the same time!).

This was also the case in 1977, at the creches at her UK uni. Her first son was born, and the creche nurses did the same. Very environmentally aware. This is among the things that Asian societies have yet to catch up with.

Convenience Vs Care. What do you choose?
I was just discussing this with Soo Yee who had gone to USQ for a semester of studies, and refused to stay there after that cause life there was just too *dull* for her. Toowomba is too much in the outskirts for her!


Anyway, this discussion had taken place after our class with Dr.Irene. According to her, in Towoomba, the centre where she did her practicuum employed a fully play based approach in the kindergarten where she was based. (5 & 6 years). The disadvantage was (to Asians, that would be!), the 6 years could barely even count orally.

The primary school settings, Grade 1 and 2 also employed play based approach, however, with more structured activities. The reason they can do that in kindergarten, is because it leads up to a primary school curriculum which also adopts the same kind of approach.

However, she feels that Australians (the ones that she had met), were lacking when it came to dealing with math. They were good in the non-academics, the confidence, the creativity the less assessable areas. For example, she said that when she had gone up to the bus, she had paid the bus fare an Au5 dollars for a 1.20 fare and expected a AUD 3.80 change in return, however, instead, she got 7 dollars back!!

Another was, at the bar, where her classmate had interned for her Tourism degree. When the bar closed operations for the day, they had to do calculations. It seems the OZ staff had trouble with mental counting, and had to rely on concrete counting (touching the coins).

In terms of sexual knowledge & intellectual pace, children as young as the age of nine years of age are already conversing like mini-adults, and by the time they are 12/13, if the children go to the school toilets for a long time and never return, you can already guess what they are doing! (Apparently, some were caught having sex in the toilet!).

Hmmmm...btw, did you not read the case of the 13 year old boy who sodomised the other boys in The STAR recently? If there are others who would like to add to this perspective, please do so. It would be enlightening to see what others have to say about the children in context of growing up in Australia.

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