Special Watch

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Hi hi,
Had a wonderful weekend last Saturday bbq-ing with my ex-colleagues. We sat up till 6am talking about the past and the present. Why am I not surprised the future was not mentioned? The bitter anecdotes from those still in the job proves that I was right in leaving. The only regret is that I didn't leave earlier. As for the stayers, they are staying more for other reasons than for the joys/job-satisfaction.

But that does not go to say that I am right in my choice of career right now. I have yet to ascertain if it is indeed suitable for me. Both are highly similar in nature, yet, different. I like the fact that no two days are alike and of course the challenges both offer. But, something stronger about my current job is that it does not allow loafers on the job (it is not likely that they exist as I have not met them yet). A loafer is easily spotted here. They are elusive in my previous job though, and how I have suffered under those ineffective and useless few. Imagine doing 2 person's job, including your boss', just because she claims she is not familiar with system after 1.5 years into the job, due to the reason that I was posted to the unit 2 months before her. And because I was familiar with her jobs, I received more tasks as my reward. Sigh.... Isn't she afraid of getting displaced by someone more junior in rank than she? Nope! These 'smart-workers' are the high-performers in their boss' eyes. And I, the 'un-smart worker', easily clocking 14-hour or 16-hour days. Sigh... But, I made some terribly close friends from other units who understood what was going on. They are the only misgiving I have for leaving the job.

Yep, I am really ventiliating. And I am not finished yet. The next grievance comes from the hoo-hahs over t'chers humiliating the kids in school or meting out punishment not matching the 'offence' etc etc.. Not that I am one of those or that I agree with what those t'chers have done. But have anyone considered why the t'chers are so desperate that they have to resort to such seemingly 'perverted' means to 'punish' the kids? Not all t'chers are born perverts. Most went into this line idealistic, only to have the idealism dashed when kids hurl vulgarities at the poor t'chers for no rhyme and reason or when kids try all means to put the poor t'cher down and to make the class laugh at their smart-alecky outbursts against their t'chers or show outright defiance. When parents are contacted, they go "No! My kid is an angel! It must be you, the t'cher, who have done something to incur the kid's wrath." Hmm... Lots of problems with that argument. But, no, t'chers are no longer supposed to be respected just because they are t'chers. This is the reality.

My observations of some kids nowadays:
1. Lack empathy. They think the world revolve around them. I was at a bookshop just a while back and was looking at some assessment books. Came these pair of kids who stood in between me and the shelf I was looking at, without so much an 'scuse me'. I went to the next shelf. And they slowly strolled between me and the second shelf once again, totally oblivious to the fact that they are blocking me, although I was sure they can see this humoungous person standing there. As I have no confidence with our future generation, I merely kept quiet. I do not want to end up with a bleeding nose/blue black eye, especially with a face like mine (people will not hesitate to disfigure it further). Yep, I have to admit I have no moral courage. :(
2. No respect for authority. In fact, they seem to rejoice in putting down authority at every opportunity possible. Had the wonderful experience of people hurling words like 'govt dogs' (oh, vulgarities is a norm) at me in my previous job. In my current job, see below for a slightly different way kids challenge authority.
3. Lack anger management. Their solution to problems - raise their voices immediately, use vulgar language and occasionally, activate their fists. It seems like these are the only three ways they know to settle their problems. Perhaps, it can be boiled down to the kid's problematic background. But although they have the excuse to use violence in their daily life, they are likely to influence their frens, who come from perfect families, to act like them. And that is just unacceptable. Imagine getting boxed for the slightest reasons, like they don't like the look of your face?

A couple of situations I faced in skool recently:
1. 2 kids were arguing. Separated them. 1 was willing to talk about what happened. The other ignored me totally while I was asking him really gently to tell me his side of his story. I kept repeating myself like a broken record and his patience run out before mine and he shouted "You can keep me from recess all you want!" right into my face. One 'nice' kid who was not involved came and told me to ignore him so that I will not embarass myself anymore in front of the class (laughing while saying that, hmmm, what I am supposed to make out of that?). Ha, I was not prepared to give up. So, instead of asking him what had happened, I asked him what I have done to incur his wrath, especially since that was the first time I stepped into this class. Told him to be fair to me by asking himself if I have done any injustice to him to deserve this kind of treatment from him. He finally relented and told me nicely what happened. But after allowing him back to his place, he must have commented something silly about me to his friend because it made his friend laugh. Sigh... They just wanna win, don't they? If they cannot win the verbal war against their t'chers above-ground, they simply took it underground. I could be imagining it but I think some kids see t'chers collectively as their arch enemies.
Well, some may say that these pupils are well-behaved in certain t'chers' class and only misbehave if the t'chers themselves are weak. Isn't that worse? At such a young age, they are bullying those who they think can be bullied, but co-operating with those they cannot bully. That's scary! Help! Stop t'cher bullying!

2. A smart alecky kid picked on everything I say, and made the whole class laugh at me. Of course I am often able to out-talk her, bringing the laughter against her. Some friends of hers will go "Eh, malu!" And all I could see was a single word going thru her mind - revenge. Luckily, things improved and such outbursts are no longer done to insult or maim their poor t'cher. But my point is, do parents/public know that kids nowadays no longer see t'chers as people they should respect, but people they try to put down? Don't forget that these are our future leaders, aka people who cannot wait to put down those in power, in the name of fun. That spells danger. And in the first place, skool is not the place for power struggle.

3. This kid was using vulgarities in class like nobody's business. His friend told me he is usually very quiet at home with his parents. So, I took the kid one side, asked him what his parents would think of him if they know that he is using vulgarities on everybody. He kept quiet. Hmmm... This was easy to deal with. And I think I can expect him to mind his language from now onwards. But from this, I think parents have no idea what terrible nonsense their kids can do in skool. To some parents, their kids are forever their angels.

4. Kids tend to take t'cher giving h/w as a big joke. Losing all handouts is one manifestation. Another would be "I didn't know the deadline is today", or "I not in school that day." Better still "You got give h/w meh?" And one ultimate case "You NEVER give h/w LOR," when the entire class have that handout stuck somewhere in their messy files. Hmm... All I can say - denying the existence of h/w does not make it go away, dear children. Sigh... What is wrong with them!? Or am I the one supposed to go face the wall and reflect on what I have done wrong in giving out the h/w?

Number 1 to 3 turned out well. So, am glad. But number 4 is a perennial problem that will not go away. Sigh...

And oh, I have something to say about public caning. Hmmm.... I think people have forgotten that it is not done to humiliate the kid. Besides the pain, it was done for the deterrent effect on other would-be offenders. Isn't the deterrent effect exactly the reason why our laws are so strict and we are constantly reminded of what we should not do or else face ____ punishment? What happens in skool should reflect the society at large since we are preparing them for that. Protect them from that and they face serious problems, the smallest of all is the problem of adapting to society. What is more worrying is they engaging in crimes (like maid abuse?) whenever they feel like it, and are still adamant that they are not in the wrong!

I have always thought that the little ones lack empathy. But, I realized it is more than that. They challenge authority like nobody's business, they do things only when they feel like it, they only do things when it is fun (and t'chers are supposed to match that and supply the fun component in lessons, but wait, what do they become in future when all they do is to ask for fun and get them?) etc... I am seriously worried. Whoever says life is always fun-filled?

And my solution to such potential social problems? Bundle them up and send them to a less developed country and see if they come back home, more appreciative of people and things around them. Although I pride myself as being 'unspoilt', kampung girl and all, I almost cried in joy when I saw water flowing endlessly out of a tap back home after a couple of weeks spent in Nepal. Not that I have anything against the beautiful and peaceful country. But, there is no luxury of clean water flowing out of a tap endlessly, or stable supply of electicity, or even clean/clear water to wash my dirty white tees back into white tees, there. I therefore have to admit that we are truly truly spoilt. And something drastic ought to be done about it before the spoilt kids bring trouble upon themselves and be a liability to society.

Ok, to be fair, the above are a minority. But it is enough to make a t'cher's life miserable. So, we need to muster all the EQ we have in handling the kids. And hopefully, do the value-added thing of seeing them through and out of skool, a responsible human being.

And just wanna end this super-long post with a positive note, coz it's not the end of the world. Some simple joys/rewards when kids say:
1. "T'cher, I detect bias in your words." Cool! They are learning their SS well.
2. "T'cher, see you on Friday (the day they have the next lesson)."
3. "T'cher, help me pls." They trust you enough to ask for your help.
4. "T'cher, do you msn?"
5. When kids ask constructive questions to clarify their doubts.
6. When kids feedback that the textbook contains too little info and when you supply them with extra readings, their eyes brighten and they feel more secure clearing their tests.
7. When kids offer their help to carry stuff for you.
8. When kids come and ask for an extension in deadline (am happy because it shows basic responsibility compared to those who conveniently forget there is homework).
8. When almost the whole class pass your test and better still, people clearing the tests with As.
9. When kids say "Hi, t'cher," both in and outside skool.
10. When kids look at you for compliments after they knew that they have done something well.
11. And am specially touched when I see them trying their best at their tests or at their recent public performance.


Sunday, August 06, 2006


Hi hi,
2 fabulous sunrises to start this post off. Who would not welcome such a change from our workplace? And I really need something beautiful to perk me up at this point in time. Am not going to reduce myself to 3 miracle drinks per day again. And, I have not seen any rainbows lately...

Now that we are about mid-way (slightly over) through the term, I am starting to feel exhausted. I hope it is not age related because that would mean it can only get worse. :P
I think I can attribute it to the need to constantly reduce myself into debt collector; to catch the kids who were absent for all sorts of reasons (the silliest will be due to suspension) and to help them catch up in different small groups and repeat myself like a broken record [maybe all lessins should be recorded]; to struggle with the lack of IT support (still no laptop in sight and I am amazed I survived thus far without it); and of course the numerous programmes going on at the same time that requires at least 3 of me to attend them all at the same time. Then there is the usual long hours of ticking away and catching up with topics I am not familiar with. Yes, it is hard to keep everything up while the energy level gets lower and lower. :(

The good news is, we all get a break next week. But the following 2 weeks, everyone (children and adults alike) will be highly-taxed, having to put together 2 major performances. It is a change from the routine and hence I am really enjoying the process. But it is still energy-sapping all the same. :(

Another good news - rapport is now in place and things should get a little easier, I hope? But I should have learnt by now it is best not to be too hopeful.

And just came to know that I am going to be 'promoted' with my kids next year. Sigh... Double sigh if I am going to be deprived of touching my favourite subject. Okie okie, think positive. I get to see my kids through...