Archive for December, 2012

A or no A

On 21st November 2012, two days after the announcement of UPSR or Primary School Evaluation Test results, an open letter appeared in a local Chinese daily, the Sin Chew (attached above).

It was written in Mandarin, so I am doing a loose translation into English. Read on because it could be about you and your child………

A student in a primary school in Johore became disillusioned when his teacher accidentally omitted his name in the school’s list of top scorers for this year’s UPSR. Due to the teacher’s mistake, the poor boy ran and hid in a corner of the school hall to cry his heart out. After all the crying had been done, he realized how silly he had been. He then ran happily home to inform his parents of his results.

How will his parents reward him for scoring 5A’s? That is not my concern. Rather, my concern is this – what will happen if he did not get 5A’s? Will his parents comfort him or his teachers encourage him to do better next time? What about those who did not even get an A at all? Should we just dismiss or forget them?

Some time ago, when the government proposed to do away with all the public examinations, everyone was so happy. Hooray, no more examinations, no more pressures, no more comparisons!

But each time the results of a public examination were out, the Education Department, the school heads, the teachers, the parents – practically everyone in the community rejoiced and put the top scorers on high pedestal. Come on, admit it, we still cling to A’s as a benchmark to evaluate our children’s academic performances. This practice had been so deeply ingrained into our psyche.

A….A….A….this is how our education system had become today. From the moment our children first started to learn, we were rooting for them to get A’s. We have been conditioning our children to believe that without A’s, they are nothing and without A’s, there is no future for them. In short, A’s is everything.

In reality, we are turning public examinations into a mental torture for our children. There are many parents who claimed they are very open-minded, that they do not mind if their children did not score straight A’s. “If you could not score A’s, then at least score B’s!”

If a child could not get an A no matter how hard he had tried, how many parents will genuinely and gently sit down to comfort him? And say words like, “Never mind, you have done your best, the most important thing is you have learnt something.” Or give him warmth hugs and say, “Don’t give up, the road ahead is still long, just put in more efforts!” Really, how many of us can be that generous with our children in the face of failure?

If your child did not score A’s, do not lose heart. All is not lost yet.

There was a student who always got the 23rd position in class. But people around her like her friends or relatives are very ambitious. She only aims to be a kindergarten teacher and a loving mother one day. So what did her parents do? They got her a home tutor, the one-to-one type. This made her very nervous and her grades dropped even further – she got the 33rd position. Alarm by this regression, her parents immediately terminated the home tutor’s service and left their daughter to study at her own pace.

One day, after the school examinations was over, the counseling teacher called on the student’s mother. What did this teacher told the mother?

In one of the examination papers, there was a question of who the most ideal student is and what are the qualities that you find most admirable in that student?

Most of her classmates chose her. What were their reasons?

She was helpful, trustworthy, even-tempered, friendly, jovial, compassionate and smart – she possessed all the qualities other students secretly wished they have too. They loved to have her as their class monitor too.

“Although she is a moderate student, but she is highly regarded by her peers,” the teacher told the mother.

See, your child do not have to have A’s to shine. Having desirable attitudes is far more meaningful than just having him doing well in his studies.

Do you agree with this open letter?

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This photo is from my brother’s album. It was taken in an unknown photo studio in Ipoh around 1958.

The girl standing at the back was my eldest sister. The girl standing on the extreme right was my second sister while the shirtless boy in short pants was my brother.

The two younger children sitting on a wooden bench were my cousins. I was not in this photo as it was taken many years before I was born.

It was very common to have photos taken in photo studios in those days.

Do you have similar childhood photos too?

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It is very normal for everyone to have dreams when we sleep.

But is it normal to have recurring dreams? I ask because I always have recurring dreams.

Of course there are many nights when I do not have any dreams at all and I could sleep peacefully the night through.

Or even if I have dreams, they were forgotten the moment I woke up. I could not recall them no matter how hard I tried.

But then, there are some dreams that kept coming back from time to time, throughout the years.

Here are some of them:-

1. I kept having dreams in which I was still in school and an important public examination is  approaching. Yet I have not start any revision at all and there is only a few days left. Such dreams always made me woke up in a panic mode.

2. Sometimes I have dreams in which I kept running away from a long black thing which I think resembled a snake. Finally, it caught up with me and bit me in the legs, leaving me crying out in pain.

3. Another dream that kept coming back to me is encountering my late parents again. In such dreams, they were always young-looking and totally free from any illness. But strangely, they could not recognise me at all and appeared to be very distant and aloof when I approaches them.

4. One dream that really intrigue me is finding myself at my parent’s house in Ipoh. There were a lot of cobwebs all over the place as if nobody stays in it for a long time. I kept clearing them up but to no avail. The cobwebs appeared again the very next moment. In the end, exhausted, I finally gave up.

5. I have repeated dreams in which I went back to work again in the same company. But when I got inside the building, I could not locate my desk again. The whole place was chaotic. I could not find the familiar faces anymore. The people there were total strangers. Yet I saw my name on the duty roster on the wall. This made me feel very lonely and isolated.

I just had recurring dream number 5 last night and it left me frightened and confused….

Anyone of you out there have similar experiences too?

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With Nicholas away at a youth camp in another state, we decided to go back to Ipoh for a weekend break.

We want to eat our favorite foods and relax at Dad’s house.

The air and water there is so much cooler and the place quieter near the beautiful blue hills which is forever covered with white mists. Dad’s house in Ipoh is now a holiday sanctuary for us. I’m glad we do not have to travel far to get away from a maddening place like Kuala Lumpur.

Such trips are very therapeutic for us, especially for me. It’s like a balm that soothes my homesick soul. For my husband, it’s like recharging his worn out batteries. And for our daughter, she can get away from the computer for a few days.

A trip home is never complete without a meal of yong tau foo at Big Tree Foot in Pasir Pinji. We had assam laksacurry laksa, fried stuffs with fish paste, rojak and of course the cooling yellow jelly called wan tau long. Prices here are very reasonable. For around RM24, our stomachs were filled to the maximum.

We also ate at Restaurant Luk Wei Koi at Clare Street. This is my other favorite place. The crowd here is lesser than those eating shops at Leech Street where you have to fight for a place to eat. We had popiahkai see hor funhor heecaramel egg custard and a greenish colored drink called pung tai woon. The prices here are more expensive, after all, this place is very “luo chew pai”  or in English, an old eating place.

An old uncle sells ice kacang and cendol in a corner stall just behind the shop that once belonged to my third aunt. It was located directly opposite Restaurant Luk Wei Koi. We will never miss these deserts for anything.

Apart from eating in town, we went to 188 Hugh Low Street and my former school for some pictures.

We could not stay longer than we wanted to because we have to rush back to Kuala Lumpur for the Himpunan Hijau or Green Rally at Dataran Merdeka.

Anyway, this trip home had done us a lot of good….spiritually and gastronomically. Really looking forward to the next trip home.

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Yesterday, my daughter Alexandra started her own blog. It was called Brownie’s Little Pen. Cute name, right?

“I have daddy’s brown eyes and mommy’s brown hair; and I always have a pen in my hand in case something strike my head,” she explained when I asked her why she chose this name for her first blog.

That’s my little girl. 🙂

Alexandra says she will blog mainly in Mandarin and sometimes in English, when she is in the mood. I’ll let my child experiment blogging in whatever languages she is comfortable in.

She is very much into writing short stories these days – mainly teenage stuffs. She treat her blog as a writing pad. “To test market!” she said cheekily.

By the way, her first post is a short love story gone awry titled “A white knight who is not a prince.”

If you can read Mandarin, do drop by at her blog:


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