Technology can weaken your abilities

I embrace technology.  The internet was only available to the masses from 1995. I grew up without the internet as a teenager and truly marvel at what technology can do to make our lives easier and more efficient.  Those who were teenagers like me before the internet age would fully understand.

Much as technology has transformed our lives, presumably for the better, there are some aspects that can cripple us.  This is particularly so if we do not know how to wield its power wisely.  Lets talk about the latest wonder, ChatGPT.  This technology is so intelligent that schools and Institutes of Higher Learning are grappling to leverage its power.  To many students, it is a godsend.  Yet, many students do not realise with the wonders that AI has created for them, it is perniciously robbing them of their writing skills.

I would like to share with you a piece of writing to show how deleterious AI can be.  Previously, this student was able to form fairly varied sentence structures correctly.  However, with AI, it was so easy for him to cut and paste his work.  On one occasion, I verified that his piece of work was actually done by AI.  I got him to rewrite, and the piece written by him had numerous sentence structure issues.  There is clearly a deterioration in the quality of his writing.

To all students, if you want your writing to get better, the only way is to keep writing and make mistakes.  Jumping blindly on the AI bandwagon will only weaken your linguistic abilities.

2022 O-level results – afterword

The O-level results was released last week.  I am particularly pleased, for two straight years, even the weakest among all my charges delivered a B.  Certainly, I congratulate those who did exceptionally well.  I knew you would deliver, I was never worried.

I would like to share my thoughts about the weakest student instead.  You were always struggling, both in school and in my lessons.  You usual teacher was suddenly transferred out and filled in by a relief teacher.  It didn’t help that the relief teacher only showed videos during lessons, or read excepts from comprehension passages.  In your words “there was no real teaching at all”.

C6 and D7 were your usual grades, you wanted desperately to inch into to the B category.  You set your sight on getting into a JC.  What happened in your school was tearing you further and further away from your dream.  There were times you were so dejected that you began to doubt yourself if you could do it all.  Not to mention the numerous pounding from me, because I believed in you. I wanted to show you, comfort and growth simply do not co-exist.  You cried hard, but soldiered on again the following day.  I admire your resilience.

When you called me last week, you were overwhelmed by joy.  I knew then, it’s all worth it.  YL, you rose to the occasion.  I am proud of you.  You finally did it!

Praising someone will cost you your life – does it make sense at all?

A true story that happened in 1955 in the US about a 14-year-old black boy meeting his tragic end, simply because he was nice to people.

Emmett Till was a bright and outspoken boy.  One fine day in Mississippi where he visited his cousins, he went into a convenient store to buy some candy.  There, he praised the store owner, a white woman for being pretty.

That night, the woman’s husband and some white men came knocking at his uncle’s home.  They dragged the boy out (his uncle was helpless to white supremacy) and took him to a farm where he was brutally tortured (just because he dared to speak so casually to a white person).  When the poor boy’s body was discovered, the extent of his injuries were ineffable.

For those who enjoy movies that depict social problems like racial injustice, this is a good movie to check out.

Miracles do happen if you keep trying

A mother of a secondary 2 girl approached me 2 weeks before her daughter’s end-of-year exams. She shared that her girl has been very weak in English, either barely pass or fail since secondary 1.  Still, she acknowledged that it was a bit late now.

I have been sharing that given the right techniques, students can soar. And soar she did!  She was delighted to inform me that she got an A2 for her Paper 1.

When the mother first approached me
Sharing with me how her daughter has never even achieved a B since S1
Getting an A2 for her end-of-year exam

Useful Study Tips from some of the Top Scholars

Time is an impartial commodity – regardless of who we are – everyone is given 24 hours each day.  

It is a common grouse among teenage students that they have so many things to do, but too little or no time for them. Yet, some have thrived within the constraints of time while others bemoan the lack of it.

Some of the highest achievers – from those heading to world’s best universities to our President scholars have shared valuable study tips.  They are all good pointers.  Adopt them if you want to achieve your academic goals.

  1.  Create a to-do list
  2.  Prioritise tasks according to due dates
  3.  Study consistently (prevents burnout)
  4.  Plan a revision schedule (one to two months ahead of exams)
  5.  Create a list of questions on the topic (based on past-year papers)
  6.  Keep a record of mistakes (creates awareness)
  7.  Remove unnecessary activities such as gaming, watching dramas and so on
  8.  Set time limit on social media use


Happy 10th Teacher’s Day – 2022

Today marks my 10th Teacher’s Day since leaving the corporate world.  Time flies…  

Educating the young and moulding their mind has such a profound impact.  You can only experience this sense of fulfillment when you walk this journey.  I have witnessed so much in this journey, yet just like my students, I am learning every day as well.  From these young minds, I see Inspiration, Resilience, Despair, and above all, I see HOPE.  

On every Teacher’s Day, I receive words of gratitude and gestures of appreciation.  But today, to all who have journeyed with me, let me also express my heartfelt thanks to you.  I draw strength from your faith and I shall continue to strive to do better each day.  

Thank you, Elise
Thank you, Jennifer (Nat’s mom)
Thank you Yi Feng
Thank you, Yue Ling
Thank you, Zhan Yi
Thank you, Aloysius
Thank you, Izaac
Thank you, Li Ping (Caitlyn’s mom)
Thank you, Hazel (Rylan’s and Izaac’s mom)

Complacency can crush you – a TRUE story

This happened more than 7 years ago.

That year, among my group of secondary 4 students, I had one student from a neighbourhood school and another one from a top school, Hwa Chong Institution (HCI).  Due to some reasons, the Hwa Chong boy was in the O-level track instead of the Integrated Programme (IP).

The female student from Hougang Secondary was especially weak but she was assiduous and kept trying.  All she wanted was a reasonable pass for English in order to get into her desired course in Polytechnic.  She had been getting either Ds and Cs in her exams…  Despite her weakness, I had full faith in her because she tried really hard, diligently remembering and applying what had been taught.

Unsurprisingly, the HCI boy was a much stronger student; consistently getting Bs and even As.  Perhaps he was aware of that too and became rather complacent.  Despite repeated reminders never to be over-confident, it was inutile.  Looking at both the boy and girl, you could see a marked difference in attitude.

When the O level results were released, the HCI boy was the first to call.  He was crushed that he got a C5.  I was blindsided but was not totally unprepared.  The female student didn’t call me sooner & I was getting anxious.  At the back of my mind, if the HCI boy had gotten a C5, what about her…

Finally she called, and couldn’t stop sobbing.  Oh dear, my heart sank!  I comforted her and her told she had done her best and that was the most important.  I wanted her to stop crying already and tell me how she had fared.  An A2!!!  She cried because never in her wildest dream she would get a distinction for English. I can understand – coming from a weak student.

The moral of the story, it doesn’t matter if you are weak.  Keep trying and surely you will get there one day.  And to those who are complacent – it’s only a matter of time failure will come knocking.

Email Etiquette

Whenever we send emails, we will address the recipient first and properly sign off after writing.  All of us are aware of this basic etiquette.

Students will email their work to me and most do not forget this right practice (attached samples).

Some however, only do so when tested in exams but do not exercise the right thing in real-life settings.  They simply attach their work and send emails with no greetings and a proper sign-off (attached sample).

To these students, I usually educate them the right habit.  After all, what we learn in school is supposed to be applied in real-life situations, not just to pass the exams.

I remember an S1 student (from a top school) once sent his email to me without sign-off and greetings.  As usual, I did what I should to educate the kid accordingly.  I didn’t have his mobile number (I usually communicated with his mother directly),  so I explained to his mother to convey the message.  

His mother responded, “You mean my son has to wish you well all the time, and wish you a nice day each time he sends an email??”  I am speechless.

An Annual Volunteer Session

After a hiatus of 2 years due to covid restrictions, I am delighted to do a 3-hour seminar for O-level students at the invitation of the Chong De Cultural (Buddhist) Society last week.

Students at the seminar were able to gain insights into Editing and comprehension techniques.

I have been conducting the annual session since 2017 and it’s truly fulfilling being able to do something in return for my blessed life so far.

You can view more pictures by clicking on the Photo Gallery at the main page.

Token fee of $5 is to help the temple to cover operational expenses

Big Panda and Tiny Dragon

I read a very good book lately, “Big Panda and Tiny Dragon” by James Norbury.

This book is neither a novel nor a self-help book.  It’s actually like a comic that narrates a journey embarked by two soulmates – a panda and a dragon fly (hence tiny dragon) through the four seasons.  

I like particularly one part where the dragon asked the panda what if he had met people who didn’t like him.  There the panda replied that the dragon had to walk its own path,  for it’s better to them than to lose himself.

How true indeed!  How many of us have lost our own uniqueness just to conform or be accepted by others.  We must remember, never to lose ourselves just because we yearn to be accepted by others.

You can borrow the physical book or electronic version from the library.  Have a read, it’s really inspiring!