Trisha Reloaded

Dedicated to Trisha, as always. Dedicated also to L, my source of inspiration, and the reason why I choose to see the bright side of teaching.

Monday, July 17, 2006


The last week or so had been really hectic. Which explains the lack of regular blogging. So I shall do a quick update. The title of this post sums up what had kept me quite busy - I encountered a few 'firsts' in my teaching career last week. Here goes:

1. First time I was behind two meet-the-principal sessions between the head honcho and my students.
This was, of course, a result of the 54 proposals which made their way to his desk. The man was, I believe, quite positive (was going to write 'pleased' but think that's being too presumptuous on my part) about getting first-hand, uncensored proposals from the students. So he did his part, read the proposals, took down notes, and paid a visit to the students during my English lesson, and had a Meet the People Session kinda thing. It went rather well and now, the only thing that lingered on our minds is whether he's going to bring up some of the students' suggestions to the Exec Com for consideration. Only time will tell if this has all been a grand wayang of which senior management in many places are adept at performing, or if he is really sincere. One can only wait and see for now.

2. First time I was reminded by my principal not to launch into a discussion regarding comparative religion in my class.
It came up as one of the students' proposals. Shall not elaborate on the details but clearly it was an issue that bothered my students. And I'm all for a mature and sensible discussion. But some people get jittery, because we're supposed to promote religious harmony in schools. But does that mean we sweep some issues under the carpet? Particularly those that are festering in my students' minds? How will avoidance of an uncomfortable issue regarding religion lead to greater understanding and tolerance?

3. First time I saw a student breaking down in the face of pressure.
I mean she snapped, emotionally, mentally and physically. And while I try frantically to counsel her, using whatever limited knowledge I have of human psychology, a sense of helplessness engulfs me. What is a form teacher to do when you see your own student fall apart? Sure we have full-time professional counselors in schools now, and thank God for that, but what can I do in the meantime? Like a captain who is tasked to keep his ship afloat, I feel like one now feebly throwing out a lifesaver to a drowning passenger and hoping luck, the winds, the waves, and sheer willpower of the victim will collaborate and somehow save this person. It is extremely frustrating and disheartening at times to realise you don't, and can't have full control of your ship. Honestly I am quite scared that this student will fall through the cracks during my watch. And then I'll wonder if I should have intervened sooner, or noticed her predicament earlier.

Term 3 has always been the Term of Horror, in my opinion. Too many school events, pre-O-level frenzy, and the time when students and teachers start crumbling, falling sick and getting into each other's hair. We all need a mid-term break. Gosh, and we've only just begun?


At 11:58 AM, Blogger inspir3d said...

Dear Trish,

I gain much insight about the pressures students face in the Singapore education system when reading your blog.

I am the author of
and i would really be interested in an article authored by u that would detail the key challenges that students face today and what perhaps our society, and ministry of education, can do about it.

please consider my request and email me if you would like to clarify anything

At 3:45 AM, Blogger The Ego One said...

Hi Trisha,
shared the same sentiment on Term 3. Maybe when they refered to the 3"6" as the Devil's number, they were actually refering to the number "3".
Sorry for the "comparative" religious thingy... :P
Anyway regarding religion, while it is not a sensitive issue in my opinion but we are treading on very delicate grounds and you have to admit that there are some students who generally lack the maturity to handle the discussion. Avoidance will not lead to racial harmony but introducing the issue at the level of the students' maturity will.
Anyway keep your spirits up!
The weekend is coming in 4620 minutes... Sigh... :P

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous piper said...

Oh yes, term 3 is the worst. I'll be glad to see the end of it. :)

On another note, nice that your P is so open to the proposals. I'm sure the kids were pleased that he read them and came up to talk to them.

Also, I wish my school had a full time counsellor.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger trisha said...

Thank you for visiting.

I will love to do an article on the stress students face, although I must confess I am more keen to write about the stress teachers face.

Perhaps I'll do both.

But first, let me clear the piles of homework sitting under my desk!

I'll get down to writing the article soon. Promise.

The Ego One:
You rasied a good point : about whether my students have the maturity to discuss comparative religion.

The thing is this : these are sec 4 students. If we doubt their maturity to discuss such issues, why then should we suddenly make them think about the ethics of stem cell research, abortion, euthanisia...etc at the JC level? One of the reasons why JC1 students struggle so much with GP is because they have not been trained to think seriousy and critically about these issues at the secondary level. So I think, whether it's religion, democracy, free speech etc, we should gradually teach our upper secondary students how to examine these issues, look at them from various angles, critique and analyse them.

I know you are struggling to get through Term 3 too. We have the long National Day break to look forward to at least.

Unless you are involved with the NDP parade, in which case I'll lend you a shoulder to cry on.

Take care!

At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Wowbagger said...

I agree with Trisha that the avoidance of discussing religious issues actually points to more deep-seated problems with Singaporean students. I was shocked by how most of my JC classmates were absolutely clueless about social/political/religious issues, and not only that, they regarded all such discussion of such issues as pointless trouble-making. And this was in a so-called "top" JC. My hypothesis is that the Singaporean emphasis on "practical" subjects like the sciences has left students intellectually bereft; in fact, even the way science is taught in our schools ignores the essential interest and meaning in science.

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Zhuo said...

"There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher." -- Henry Van Dyke


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