Sunday, July 29, 2012

More about Private School

"Mom, today my headmistress (in the private school) ended her speech with YOU ARE AN AWESOME GENERATION," my daughter told me.


"Mom, can I drop Chinese subject if I go to (the private school) next year?" my form 3 son pleaded.

"Is ok one lah...even the Chinese (subject) teacher here is very friendly and doesn't simply scold us..." my daughter told him.


I can sense the positive energy in this school My daughter told me all her teachers are friendly and approachable even though some are quite strict when teaching. They have the ability to bond with the students. I met a few of them during the recent teacher-parent conference. All of them speak good English, including her Science, Math & Geography teacher. All her teachers are experienced except for her science teacher who is young and new. Even so, as long as she is passionate and knows her subject well, it is alright with me.

Can sit for 'O' Level and SPM! My daughter is studying both KBSM/national syllabus and IGCSE/'O' Level (Science, Math & English). This is the very first year the school implemented the new dual system. Just like those Independent Chinese Secondary schools that prepare students for 統考 & SPM, my daughter's school will prepare them to sit for 'O' level in form 4, and SPM in form 5. I am happy the English standard is much higher than the public school.

Good for PBS (no more PMR) There is a new cabinet in my daughter's classroom for students' PBS related school work until form 3. There will be no more PMR for those who are in form 1 this year, and students will be graded by each subject teacher based on the new School Base Assessment - PBS (Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah). It is said to be a holistic approach in which students are evaluated based on a few aspects: Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor. Problem is, when my daughter was in the public school, some subject have no teachers at all, some subjects have changed teachers a few times, how can the PBS be implemented smoothly?

Small class size is ideal for PBS My daughter's class has 24 students as compared to 42 in her former school. Small class size is definitely more ideal, especially for this new system (PBS) which requires more personal attention from teachers. There are also a lot of individualgroup projects and students are required to make presentation in class. A few teachers have noticed my daughter's artistic ability... perhaps it is due to the small class size too.

Embracing technology More slide presentation are used by teachers in this school. My daughter's Mandarin teacher showed me some samples and I'm sure it will make learning more interesting. Oh ya, everyday parents will receive emails from teachers on what they've taught in class, and homework for the kids.

School is not only about academic achievement. I want my kids to be in a POSITIVE, CARING and RESPECTFUL learning environment. 

Extra curricular activities and other non-academic related subjects should be emphasized too. Even though my daughter does not enjoy her Structured Performing Art (yet?),  I told her to treasure the experience and isn't it fun to learn some drama, hip hop step etc? In fact, her school has a big swimming pool and it is compulsory to attend swimming lesson too (for one term a year).

Secondary school life should be one of the best time in life. I hope one day my kids remember not only their school friends, but also cherish good teachers who have encouraged them to unleash their potential and inspire them to be a better person.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Private School?

My mom is 71 and she still feels bad for a decision she made more than 30 years ago... She regretted for not sending my brother to a chinese primary school. Yet my bother and sister-in-law (both can't read and write Chinese) put their girls in Chinese primary school and both my nieces do well in school. Mom is happy ...but she still feels guilty about her own decision.

All my kids shall attend 6 years of primary Chinese school, and I force my elder two to continue taking Chinese subject in secondary school. I have no regret on that but I have other headaches.

My dilemma:
1) Private vs Public school
2) National vs International syllabus

I end up putting them in a public secondary school.... and end up regretting (I listed the problems in my previous posting). So just a few months ago, I decided to switch my girl to a private school with national syllabus. My son will join her next year.

Why not international syllabus? Well...I don't have the courage to burn the bridge yet. Since they have good command of English, I feel that there is no harm to master another language...especially that is our national language (even though I can't guarantee they will stay in this country forever!? )

How does my girl cope with the new school? On the first day, she told me her class has quite a number of students from chinese primary school. Her classmates are "super friendly" and not snobbish, and her teachers are 'cool, nice, friendly, and all can teach.' I could see she already likes her new school .

She could tell the difference between the private & public school
But then she told me "there is something "NOT GOOD" about that new school". My heart sank.............

She looked at me and said, "The teachers really COME TO CLASS! They really TEACH!! And they REALLY GIVE HOMEWORK!!!

I am now convinced I have made the right move xD

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Going private...

No, it’s not about my blog, but about my decision to switch my kids to private school.

When my son was in form one, my registration fee for a private school was forfeited after he insisted to join his friends in public school. At that time, I was still weighing the pros and cons of both types of schools and somehow had some worries about private school (especially about the types of friends they are going to mix with…I didn’t want them to be influenced by the very rich & spoilt kids).

But for the past 3 year, I’ve witnessed the quality of my kids’ secondary school...and got worried and disappointed (AS A PARENT & AS A TAX PAYER!!)

The form 1 classes are facing serious teacher shortage. Some subjects have no teacher at all. My daughter's math teacher never marked the student’s work. There’s no art teacher (too bad that is her favourite subject).

      My son who is in form 3 has better teachers (that’s because he is in a good class). But, not all teachers are “qualified”. His previous math teacher marked his work blindly and never spotted a single error. His science teacher explains in “rojak” languageBahasa Malaysia + English…and he said it is confusing.

      There are many “free periods” without teachers and my kids seems to get use to it…and get lazier & unmotivated to attend school on such days. 
Some teachers are very stressful and full of negative remarks on students

I used to think that if a child is good, no matter what type of school he/she goes to, he’ll be as good. It may be true to some point (eg. academic achievement), but I’m now convinced that if there’s a much better learning environment, it will make a vast difference! 

I have seen positive changes in my daughter after she attends private school. Will share with you in my next post :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Romance Novels, buttons & ribbons

When I was a teenager, this little shop in my hometown was like a magnet to me. Until today, apart from sewing supplies, it still rents out Romance Novels (which was where my pocket money went to).

It has been more than 20 years and that shopkeeper still remembers me! I obtained her permission to take some photos of the shop.

The shop only has Chinese novels now. It used to rent out English novels such as Mills & Boons and Silhouette. Being a teenager, I was very engrossed in those English romance books and couldn't stop fantasizing about marrying a handsome & charming Mat Salleh.

The shopkeeper told me those who rent the Chinese romance storybooks  (RM1.50 per book) are middle aged "aunties". 

My daughter who loves needlework and sewing bought many ribbons and buttons there. I told her I'll bring her to that shop on each trip back to Muar.

What a wonderful little shop. It has helped to nurture my dreamy soul with its romance books, and inspire my daughter's creativity with its colorful ribbons and buttons.

Monday, July 16, 2012

客家土樓 Unique Hakka Architecture (Tulou)

Apart from my ancestral home, another highlight of the recent trip was the visit to Hakka Tulou (Unesco World Heritage). Below are some of the photos taken by me:

Its interior structure is built of interlocking wooden beams. Not a single nail was used.

Not sure how true it is. Our tour guide tour told us the tulou was spotted by USA spy planes many years ago. Those "rounded objects" were mistook for Missile Silos. 2 spies disguised as photo journalists went to China to investigate further. They soon found out those "missile scare"  were actually over a hundred of earthen houses!


The following are extracted from the Wikipedia:
  • A tulou is usually a large, enclosed and fortified earth building, most commonly rectangular or circular in configuration, with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 80 families. 
  • Smaller interior buildings are often enclosed by these huge peripheral walls which can contain halls, storehouses, wells and living areas, the whole structure resembling a small fortified city.
  • The fortified outer structures are formed by compacting earth, mixed with stone, bamboo, wood and other readily available materials, to form walls up to 6 feet (1.8 m) thick. Branches, strips of wood and bamboo chips are often laid in the wall as additional reinforcement. The result is a well-lit, well-ventilated, windproof and earthquake-proof building that is warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • Tulous usually have only one main gate, guarded by 4–5-inch-thick (100–130 mm) wooden doors reinforced with an outer shell of iron plate. The top level of these earth buildings has gun holes for defensive purposes.