31 July 2007

This Old Man Still Got To Do Son's Homework

My elder son, who is in Sec 4, recently wrote an essay about "respecting difference and promoting understanding in relation to your own country". As for me, I had to write an "adult critic's assessment" of his essay. So instead of letting my homework go to waste, I am putting it on my blog, heh:

I have read my son's article and my comments are as follows:

I feel that he relied too much on only one source of information for his article, i.e. the Internet. There is a wealth of information in the print media, in particular books on Singapore's history. The two autobiographies by Mr Lee Kuan Yew could have been good resources for the article. He should also have cited the references he had used for the article, even if they are from the Internet - websites from which information have been culled for the article should have been listed.

Even as a mere statement of facts, the article had missed out the mention of significant local historical events that had caused disharmony and political upheaval, e.g. the Maria Hertogh racial riots, the Hock Lee Bus riots and the threat of communism.

Not having gone through the tumultuous years of our nation's history, it is perhaps understandable why his article lacks an angle from his personal experience. However, he could have written more about his personal observations and feelings in today's context. For example, do people in our very own HDB block live harmoniously together? Do we know our neighbours well? Do we even know their names at all? Are we friendly only with neighbours of our own race? Do we greet or smile at each other whenever we meet or do we avoid eye contact even when we are face-to-face in the common corridors and the lifts? Do we often participate in community events? What are the potential flash points, if any? What can be done to further improve understanding and tolerance so that we can continue to live in harmony together?


Do you have answers to the above questions? Or do you think that these are issues that are better left to "people paid well enough to do the job"? And I don't mean my son's teacher.

23 comments:

etel said...

u mean u need to write this for his teacher? interesting, because it never happened during my time...

is it a compulsory thing? but its super well written btw.

Victor said...

Etel - Thanks for the compliment. Yes, it was compulsory as there was a printed form for the parent/guardian to fill in. I think the school meant it as a feedback system (both ways). I wonder what would happen if the parent/guardian just couldn't write. Maybe the student would role-play and fill in the form himself?

No opinions on how well you think you are getting on with your neighbours, friends, colleagues, etc?

tigerfish said...

Wah...nowadays, teachers really easy job...the so-called adult's critic assessment just lighted their work responsibility! Lucky I'm not in this generation Sec 4....seems so tough to even write an essay. Maybe last time, students don't rely on internet so much, so the school expects less. :p

fr said...

I doubt it is really compulsory. I think the school is aware that some parents are not able to do that.

The topic is not easy. You need some serious thinking and research. I suppose your son was not given much time to do this. As you said he lacked the experience too.

You got so many questions! I don't believe they are only for "peolpe paid well to do the job".

justcate said...

It seems quite common that school children just rely on the internet to do their research but sometimes its not really their fault. The time given to do a good piece may be too short, especially when they will also have other homework to do. My experience with my kids is that lacking a personal angle seems another common fault and I feel its more to do with our school culture. Students are not always encouraged to voice their opinions and sometimes when they do, they are made to feel like its "talking back". I doubt that most kids (if any) would know how to relate this as far back as to the Maria Hertoch and Hock Lee bus riots though - you have high expectations.

But sounds like your son's teacher did good in getting an adult to critic the assessment.

Victor said...

Tigerfish - I am not so sure if today's teachers have an easier job. However, I think that students do have a tougher time nowadays compared to our, I mean my time.

Victor said...

Frannxis - Haha, you are right. I don't think the teacher will ever chase me even if I didn't hand in this assignment.

I think the problem is that Singaporeans are generally reserved and the majority prefer to keep to themselves and mind their own business. However by doing so, they may come across as cold and unfriendly even though they may have no ill-feelings at all towards others.

Victor said...

Justcate - Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I have left a comment on your blog as well. Your articles on health are very well-writtened. May I link you?

We learn our lessons from past events. If not, history will repeat itself.

etel said...

actually, i worries more about the parents... I wonder what would happen if the parent/guardian just couldn't write.

my parents are examples... my mum can't even read..

now i wonder... if our education system is good.

JustCate said...

Thank you. More than happy to exchange links.

Lam Chun See said...

I think the topic is quite tough. Anyway, it is quite broad and did not specify specifically mention race relations. Could be relations bet. oldies and young people.

Considering the lack of time, I don't think your son was expected to do indepth research, so internet shd be good enuf. My goodness, do you expect him to read the whole LKY book just for this assignment. I never made it beyond half-way mark.

I think the teacher just wants him to express his views. If he chosed a title like relations between neighbours, just observation and a few newspaper articles will do I think. And maybe interview a few wise men like his old man.

fr said...

Similar more specific questions can come out in the GP paper and only got 1.5h. I suppose they expect pupils to have read extensively during their two years and draw from whatever they can remember.

Vic, teachers as well as students have a tougher times nowaday.

peter said...

I believe the assignment was based on a) ability to research, b) ability to think through, c) observation skills and d) making conclusions.

Nowdays I see many "parrots". Sure one can blame on the system but my view, there's no more "exciting times" left in Singapore - so what to write then? Children today are so caught up in books, IT or in social activities which emphasize fun that they seem to have lost their hunger.

I can see some of these cropping up as domestic problems when my friends' children marry. Looks like everything also dont know, "no time", "Busy", "too tired"......

Victor said...

Etel - I believe that our education system is one of the best in the world. However, some people of my generation could be Chinese-educated. They may not be very conversant with English and hence will face difficulty doing the assignment.

Victor said...

Justcate - Thanks for linking me. I have linked you too.

Victor said...

Frannxis - I guess that's how they pick out the leaders from the followers.

>...teachers as well as students have a tougher times nowadays...

Yet more reinforcement of my believe that you are (or were) from the education service.

Victor said...

Chun See - I don't expect my son to read the entire LKY books lah. Even if I want him too, I don't think that he will do it. He will probably browse through the contents or index pages and zoom in to the relevant sections.

Er... next time, can I email his article to you for another wise old man's view? :p

Victor said...

Peter - There's no more "exciting times" left in Singapore? That is too bleak a view, in my opinion.

I haven't even mentioned the threat of religious extremism, self-radicalisation and terrorism yet. Not forgetting that there are the two IRs and F1 rallies coming up.

Looks to me like exciting times have only just begun.

stay-at-home mum said...

Still gotta do h/w at this age? I thot I finished with it when i left school. Sigh.

Lam Chun See said...

No thank you. Vic. No time, too busy, too tired. LOL.

Even my children's essays, I don't read. (Did I tell you my youngest has won 2 awards in national story writing competitions)

Victor said...

SAHM - A parent's work is never done.

Chun See - Congrats. What did he write about? Nostalgia? Like father like sone? If so can ask him to try blogging in yesterday's sgcool lor. Can win Nintendo DSlite.

Lam Chun See said...

My youngest is a daughter. She says her blog is 'lame'. My son doesn't blog at all.

Yesterday, Wei Chong approached me and I told him you have 2 teenage sons. Didn't he call you?

Victor said...

Yes, Wei Chong did call me yesterday. (Just as I suspected, so it was you who sabo-ed me again. LOL.)

Both my sons don't blog because they have "no time, are too busy and too tired". To them, blogging is too much like writing compositions in school. And they have had enough of that.