21 September 2005

Come On, Everyone. SHINE.

Today's Straits Times has plenty of news about which schools are ranked top for what in Singapore. None of this really interests Mr Wang very much except for a minor point very briefly mentioned in the following article:
Sept 21, 2005
RISE of heartland schools
Neighbourhood schools' awards reflect improvement, help draw students
By Jane Ng

RIVERSIDE Secondary has begun to tailor its teaching to fit the needs of students - and it's paying off.

The neighbourhood school has moved into the top band in the School Achievement Tables for Normal stream, up from Band 4, and it chalked up yet another award for academic value-added.

To cater to students of different abilities and learning styles, Riverside has engaged a psychologist to profile each student to determine how he or she learns best.

Students are then grouped according to their learning style - for instance, some are more adapted to visual learning, others to audio. Teachers then tailor their lessons to suit each group's learning needs.
What caught Mr Wang's eye was the part about Riverside engaging a psychologist to profile each student's individual learning style. However, as the psychological profiling was not the real focus of the article, the article said little else and went on to talk about other things.

Mr Wang is quite interested in the topic of individual performance and capability. He believes that all of us are talented in one way or another, and nearly all of us have the potential to be far greater than we currently are. The difference between a star performer and a mediocre person is merely that the star performer has made more progress in developing and using his inherent talents.

We are all talented in different ways. Each of us has our individual strengths. Unfortunately, society is often rather poor at identifying an individual's strengths, and helping him to develop and use those strengths. Thus this is a task we have to do for ourselves. Each of us owes ourselves a duty to try to understand ourselves at a deeper level who we are, to understand who we can be, and to work each day towards becoming that greater person.

Now you understand why Mr Wang is always so interested in personality tests etc. He wants to know himself better, so that he can work towards being a Greater Person. And you should too. The meaning of life is to work each day towards being a slightly Greater Person. Here is one of my favourite quotes. It has a Christian-ish feel to it, but I think it can be appreciated even if you're not a Christian (Mr Wang himself is not):
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson
The inherent message in the above quote is one that Mr Wang deeply believes in. Many years ago, I gave English Language and Literature tuition to a boy. His English was very poor. He tried hard but he didn't do well. One day, he despairingly said something to the effect that he was probably just born too stupid and he would never do well at anything. I was furious. I felt like slapping his face. I contented myself by shouting at him a few times. I don't mind students who do badly, as long as they've tried their best, but of all things, I hate to hear people putting themselves down and saying things like, "I am stupid, I am useless." These are lies. Lies. LIES.

I don't mean to say that everyone can be good at English Language or Literature. Nor do I mean to say that you can be good at anything, as long as you try hard. No. That's not it. But I think people should not put themselves down. If you're really no good at something, it may merely mean that you are not meant to be good at that particular thing. There will be other things that you can be good at. You are not useless. You are not stupid. You are a human being, a creation of God (by whatever name you call him) and God doesn't make junk. You just have to get to know yourself better and find out what you were meant to be good at.

I'm very pleased to hear that Riverside Secondary engaged a psychologist to profile each of their students. To me, this shows that Riverside Secondary teachers and principal understand that each student is a unique individual. Each student has his own strengths and his own learning styles. No child is stupid. Stupid is a bad word that should be forcibly scrubbed out of teachers' mouths. Each child just has a unique way of learning. The closer you get to identifying that way, and to helping the child identify that way for himself, the more the child's potential can be developed and the more the child can grow as a human being and as an individual.

And I wish Riverside Secondary all the very best, in helping its students to become Greater Persons.

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FURTHER READING:

Multiple Intelligences. How we are all smart in different ways.

Learning Styles. How we learn in different ways.

In Our Schools. Poet Gilbert Koh describes the evil of not acknowledging our young people as unique individuals.

Understand who you are, and how you can grow. Click here to see Mr Wang's Personal Growth Recommendations, based on his own Enneagram personality type. You can also do your own Enneagram profile and get your own set of personal growth recommendations.

An old post about the learning adventures of Little Wang.
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8 comments:

hugewhaleshark said...

Wahpiangeh! Talk about complicated man. I feel like I need to be a rocket scientist to understand all the awards. MOE: if the simplest thing about the acheivement awards is the banding according to O-Level results, parents will STILL focus on that, and ignore all your confusing medals and stars!

Sorry Mr Wang, this is off-topic to your post, but thanks for triggering me to read the article. I can do multi-year discounted cashflows but cannot understand the MOE's awards. Their press release is even harder. JEEZ.

hugewhaleshark said...

PS. personality typing is a pet topic of mine too!

ENTP
Type 8
White Knight

Mr Wang Says So said...

Aha! Kingdomality test. I am a Prime Minister.

trisha said...

To hugewhaleshark,

Even teachers don't really understand the ranking tables, even though we know the issue of our own school's ranking is going to appear in the agenda in the next staff meeting.

Typical MOE chim-onology.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I haven't really bothered to look at their methodology, but this probably is all part of Tharman's plan to create "alternative paths of success".

I actually think that this is a good thing. And it follows naturally from the fact that the local universities and JCs are also now modifying their admission criteria somewhat and are looking a little more at non-academic factors, in deciding which students they wish to admit.

trisha said...

Hi Mr Wang,

What Mr Tharman wants to achieve is good in theory.

In reality, what this means at the teachers' level is that we now not only have to make it to a respectable academic band (parents still care about this, mind you!), we also need to value-add, win some medals in CCAs, and generate tons of documentation so that we can be certified a Quality School.

'Less is more' is unheard of in many schools!

Mr Wang Says So said...

Heheh. Wonder if my big brother will comment. He reads this blog sometimes. And he is the vice-principal of a rather well-known secondary school in Singapore.

karenhubba said...

I've nothing to add except to vouch for Riverside's dedication in education - very rare, and very commendable. My youngest brother is currently a Normal Acad. student there, and I see a distinct difference in his learning attitude after he joined the school. I've no doubt it has something to do with the school culture that embraces every one of their students, even when they are a little slower in learning. Such a wonderful learning environment, really.

And that's more than I can say for the secondary school I went to, which despite being a multi-award-laden SAP school among the top 6, has a totally warped concept of learning, and is ever only concerned about students sabotaging the school ranking.