Our Tenderest Bud

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Light elbows him
again.

He
sighs, then
stretches.

Slim, green arms
rise
trembling
lithely.

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The Art of Conversation

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Sometimes, he has this nagging suspicion that his mouth has its own mind. This organ spews outrageous statements that cause him moments - far too many moments - of mortification.

It's like a cat that decides when to eat, sleep and poop, with nary a regard for its owner. Like most people, he must learn to tame this fickle creature.

To say the right thing at the right moment isn't easy. To leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment, now, this is a challenge. 

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Glaucus Atlanticus / Marginata

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Factsheet
  • Sapphire sea slug (= pelagic aeolid nudibranch) 
  • Lives in the world's oceans
  • Spends its entire life floating upside down on sea foam
  • Hermaphroditic: contains both male and female reproductive organs; mates with its ventral sides facing; produces strings of eggs after doing so
  • Feeds on jellyfishes and stores their poison in its limbs (may be even more poisonous than its already lethal preys)
Source credit: Sommerleigh.com

These nudibranches, like us, have such aching destinies. They live; they eat; they reproduce. Then, they die.

They float beneath the water surface, swept by forces that they don't understand. Shimmering cyan and silver, they are blossoms of cells. 

Don't be fooled by their delicate appearances though. They feed on animals larger than them, storing their poison as defense. In those surreal, wriggling fingers, there are sacs of toxins. Beneath these creatures' frail facades, there are venom. 

They reproduce, laying strings of eggs. Then, they die, washed ashore by pitiless waves. 

Source credit: Vanhartingsveldt.blogspot
Its fingers - scientifically known as 'creta' - are
bundled ribbons.
Source credit: Sea Slug Forum
It looks like it's floating, surviving on its dreams.
Source credit: Nudipixel


So many lessons and so many stories in these fragments of Nature. 

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Memes on Technology

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Source credit: Grammarly
Source credit: 9GAG
Are we getting too caught up with technology? So drawn into the virtual world that we forget angry animals are just not easy to get along with and that some personal details should remain personal?

It's so easy to be enraptured by the glitz of the latest gadgets, to be attracted to the newest iPhones, MP4 players, DSLRs, laptops and Kindles. It's easy, no doubt, and therein lies the problem.

Sometimes, we need to be remind ourselves to be stewards of our time, to use the ticking gift prudently.

Source credit: Grammarly

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Lee Kuan Yew on Getting the Best out of Life

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Came across this inspiring reflection by MM Lee Kuan Yew. This reflection is all the more poignant, given this August's rumours about him on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. 

Thanks, MM Lee, for everything. Happy 89th Birthday!

Source credit: unknown
Source credit:  Biography.com 

“The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere: Keep yourself interested, have a challenge".

If you’re not interested in the world and the world is not interested in you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that’s real torture.”

My concern today is, what is it I can tell you which can add to your knowledge about aging and what aging societies can do. You know more about this subject than I do. A lot of it is out in the media, Internet and books. So I thought the best way would be to take a personal standpoint and tell you how I approach this question of aging.

If I cast my mind back, I can see turning points in my physical and mental health. You know, when you’re young, I didn’t bother, assumed good health was God-given and would always be there.

When I was about 57 that was – I was about 34, we were competing in elections, and I was really fond of drinking beer and smoking. And after the election campaign, in Victoria Memorial Hall – we had won the election, the City Council election – I couldn’t thank the voters because I had lost my voice. I’d been smoking furiously. I’d take a packet of 10 to deceive myself, but I’d run through the packet just sitting on the stage, watching the crowd, getting the feeling, the mood before I speak.

In other words, there were three speeches a night. Three speeches a night, 30 cigarettes, a lot of beer after that, and the voice was gone. I remember I had a case in Kuching, Sarawak . So I took the flight and I felt awful. I had to make up my mind whether I was going to be an effective campaigner and a lawyer, in which case I cannot destroy my voice, and I can’t go on.

So I stopped smoking. It was a tremendous deprivation because I was addicted to it. And I used to wake up dreaming…the nightmare was I resumed smoking. But I made a choice and said, if I continue this, I will not be able to do my job. I didn’t know anything about cancer of the throat, or oesophagus or the lungs, etc. But it turned out it had many other deleterious effects.

Strangely enough after that, I became very allergic, hyper-allergic to smoking, so much so that I would plead with my Cabinet ministers not to smoke in the Cabinet room. You want to smoke, please go out, because I am allergic.

Then one day I was at the home of my colleague, Mr Rajaratnam, meeting foreign correspondents including some from the London Times and they took a picture of me and I had a big belly like that (puts his hands in front of his belly), a beer belly.

I felt no, no, this will not do.

So I started playing more golf, hit hundreds of balls on the practice tee. But this didn’t go down. There was only one way it could go down: consume less, burn up more.

Another turning point came in 1976, after the general election – I was feeling tired. I was breathing deeply at the Istana, on the lawns. My daughter, who at that time just graduating as a doctor, said: ‘What are you trying to do?’

I said: ‘I feel an effort to breathe in more oxygen.’ She said: ‘Don’t play golf. Run. Aerobics..’

So she gave me a book, quite a famous book and, then, very current in America on how you score aerobic points swimming, running, whatever it is, cycling. I looked at it sceptically. I wasn’t very keen on running. I was keen on golf. So I said, ‘Let’s try’. So in-between golf shots while playing on my own, sometimes nine holes at the Istana, I would try and walk fast between shots.

Then I began to run between shots. And I felt better. After a while, I said: ‘Okay, after my golf, I run.’ And after a few years, I said: ‘Golf takes so long. The running takes 15 minutes. Let’s cut out the golf and let’s run.’

I think the most important thing in aging is you got to understand yourself. And the knowledge now is all there. When I was growing up, the knowledge wasn’t there. I had to get the knowledge from friends, from doctors.

But perhaps the most important bit of knowledge that the doctor gave me was one day, when I said: ‘Look, I’m feeling slower and sluggish.’ So he gave me a medical encyclopaedia and he turned the pages to aging. I read it up and it was illuminating.

A lot of it was difficult jargon but I just skimmed through to get the gist of it. As you grow, you reach 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and then, thereafter, you are on a gradual slope down physically. Mentally, you carry on and on and on until I don’t know what age, but mathematicians will tell you that they know their best output is when they’re in their 20s and 30s when your mental energy is powerful and you haven’t lost many neurons. That’s what they tell me.

So, as you acquire more knowledge, you then craft a programme for yourself to maximise what you have. It’s just common sense. I never planned to live till 85 or 84! I just didn’t think about it.

I said: ‘Well, my mother died when she was 74, she had a stroke.. My father died when he was 94.’ But I saw him, and he lived a long life, well, maybe it was his DNA. But more than that, he swam every day and he kept himself busy! He was working for the Shell company. He was in charge, he was a superintendent of an oil depot.

When he retired, he started becoming a salesman. So people used to tell me: ‘Your father is selling watches at BP de Silva.’ My father was then living with me. But it kept him busy. He had that routine: He meets people, he sells watches, he buys and sells all kinds of semi-precious stones, he circulates coins. And he keeps going. But at 87, 88, he fell, going down the steps from his room to the dining room, broke his arm, three months incapacitated.

Thereafter, he couldn’t go back to swimming. Then he became wheelchair-bound. Then it became a problem because my house was constructed that way. So my brother – who’s a doctor and had a flat (one-level) house – took him in. And he lived on till 94. But towards the end, he had gradual loss of mental powers.

So my calculations, I’m somewhere between 74 and 94. And I’ve reached the halfway point now.

But have I?

Well, 1996 when I was 73, I was cycling and I felt tightening on the neck. Oh, I must retire today. So I stopped. Next day, I returned to the bicycle. After five minutes it became worse. So I said, no, no, this is something serious, it’s got to do with the blood vessels. Rung up my doctor, who said, ‘Come tomorrow’. Went tomorrow, he checked me, and said: ‘Come back tomorrow for an angiogram.’

I said: ‘What’s that ?’

He said: ‘We’ll pump something in and we’ll see whether the coronary arteries are cleared or blocked.’

I was going to go home. But an MP who was a cardiologist happened to be around, so he came in and said: ‘What are you doing here?’

I said: ‘I’ve got this.’

He said: ‘Don’t go home. You stay here tonight. I’ve sent patients home and they never came back. Just stay here. They’ll put you on the monitor. They’ll watch your heart. And if anything, an emergency arises, they will take you straight to the theatre. You go home. You’ve got no such monitor. You may never come back.’

So I stayed there. Pumped in the dye, yes it was blocked, the left circumflex, not the critical, lead one. So that’s lucky for me. Two weeks later, I was walking around, I felt it’s coming back. Yes it has come back, it had occluded. So this time they said: ‘We’ll put in a stent.’

I’m one of the first few in Singapore to have the stent, so it was a brand new operation. Fortunately, the man who invented the stent was out here selling his stent. He was from San Jose, La Jolla something or the other. So my doctor got hold of him and he supervised the operation. He said put the stent in. My doctor did the operation, he just watched it all and then that’s that.

That was before all this problem about lining the stent to make sure that it doesn’t occlude and create a disturbance. So at each stage, I learnt something more about myself and I stored that. I said: ‘Oh, this is now a danger point.’

So all right, cut out fats, change diet, went to see a specialist in Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital. He said: ‘Take statins.’ I said: ‘What’s that?’ He said: ‘(They) help to reduce your cholesterol.’ My doctors were concerned. They said: ‘You don’t need it. Your cholesterol levels are okay.’ Two years later, more medical evidence came out. So the doctors said: ‘Take statins.’ Had there been no angioplasty, had I not known that something was up and I cycled on, I might have gone at 74 like my mother.

So I missed that decline. So next deadline: my father’s fall at 87. I’m very careful now because sometimes when I turn around too fast, I feel as if I’m going to get off balance. So my daughter, a neurologist, she took me to the NNI, there’s this nerve conduction test, put electrodes here and there. The transmission of the messages between the feet and the brain has slowed down. So all the exercise, everything, effort put in, I’m fit, I swim, I cycle. But I can’t prevent this losing of conductivity of the nerves and this transmission. So just go slow. So when I climb up the steps, I have no problem. When I go down the steps, I need to be sure that I’ve got something I can hang on to, just in case. So it’s a constant process of adjustment.

But I think the most important single lesson I learnt in life was that if you isolate yourself, you’re done for. The human being is a social animal – he needs stimuli, he needs to meet people, to catch up with the world.

I don’t much like travel but I travel very frequently despite the jetlag, because I get to meet people of great interest to me, who will help me in my work as Chairman of our GIC. So I know, I’m on several boards of banks, international advisory boards of banks, of oil companies and so on. And I meet them and I get to understand what’s happening in the world, what has changed since I was here one month ago, one year ago. I go to India, I go to China.

And that stimuli brings me to the world of today. I’m not living in the world, when I was active, more active 20, 30 years ago. So I tell my wife. She woke up late today. I said: ‘Never mind, you come along by 12 o’clock. I go first.’

If you sit back – because part of the ending part of the encyclopaedia which I read was very depressing – as you get old, you withdraw from everything and then all you will have is your bedroom and the photographs and the furniture that you know, and that’s your world. So if you’ve got to go to hospital, the doctor advises you to bring some photographs so that you’ll know you’re not lost in a different world, that this is like your bedroom.

I’m determined that I will not, as long as I can, to be reduced, to have my horizons closed on me like that.

It is the stimuli, it is the constant interaction with people across the world that keeps me aware and alive to what’s going on and what we can do to adjust to this different world.

In other words, you must have an interest in life.

If you believe that at 55, you’re retiring, you’re going to read books, play golf and drink wine, then I think you’re done for. So statistically they will show you that all the people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners die off very quickly.

So we now have a social problem with medical sciences, new procedures, new drugs, many more people are going to live long lives..

If the mindset is that when I reach retirement age 62, I’m old, I can’t work anymore, I don’t have to work, I just sit back, now is the time I’ll enjoy life, I think you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.

After one month, or after two months, even if you go traveling with nothing to do, with no purpose in life, you will just degrade, you’ll go to seed. The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere: Keep yourself interested, have a challenge.

If you’re not interested in the world and the world is not interested in you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that’s real torture.

So when I read that people believe, Singaporeans say: ‘Oh, 62 I’m retiring.’ I say to them: ‘You really want to die quickly?’

If you want to see sunrise tomorrow or sunset, you must have a reason, you must have the stimuli to keep going.’

Have a purpose driven life and finish well, my friends.

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Putting Myself Down

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He realised that, sometimes, it is easier to comfort people by putting himself down.

"I'm so sad that I didn't do well."

"Erm, it's okay. I got B for the Inorganic Chemistry paper last sem, remember?"

"Ouch, that sucks. But I didn't do well for that 2nd experiment on surface tension."

"Erm, it's ok. Failing in the sciences is natural. My string of photolysis experiments failed just yesterday."

Is there something wrong with this approach? How else can he cheer people up? It is difficult to bring happiness to others when they are determined to be unhappy.

Is he taking the easy way out with such reflexive responses? Should he even be demeaning himself?

Or is he merely being competitive? Since he can't be happier, he might as well be more miserable?

And why is there a need to cheer friends up with his failures? If they indeed draw comfort his failures, are they genuine friends?

Or is this all part of the human condition? We remind ourselves that we're fortunate, when the ugliness of others stand afore.
‘And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us – all who knew her – felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. […]And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt.’
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison 

How to cheer others up? So many questions, so many cyan shades.

Source credit:  http://www.purpleartgallery.co.uk/

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Memes on Education

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The resilient nature of children and how there can be more flexibility in our society:


The uniqueness of our children, their potential. Are we forcing them into pre-existing niches?


What does it mean to teach from the heart?


Is our education system perpetuating a form of narrow vision, a paradigmatic myopia?

Are we thinking squarely?

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Insiders (?)

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"There are so many insider cliques that there are no longer any insider."

It seems that the faculty is increasingly fragmented, torn into uneven, polarised cliques. Must it be this way, this devolution to disorder?

Why is it that different groups of people cannot co-exist? At the tremulous heart of this collective, there is shared interest. Is it really that difficult to recognise this?

Perhaps, there is no hope. Throughout history, peace is fleeting and chaos, recurrent.

"I try not to wear that t-shirt because it identifies me as part of that group. And I don't want it to be recognised as such."

Sigh. What a tangled mess.

Source credit: http://blog.loxosceles.org/

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Perspectives From A Private Tutor

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Source credit: Edvantage
This article was initially published anonymously on The Kent Ridge Common

In July, Kelvin Ong Wee Loong, a private tutor, was severely criticised for claiming to be able to help students get into the Gifted Education Program (GEP). His claims of being an ex-GEP student, an ex-GEP teacher, a Nanyang Polytechnic trained physiotherapist, a NUS ‘double math major’ graduate and a NIE post-graduate diploma holder are all false. Yet, for many years, his scam was not discovered and he made money off parents who were determined to ensure that their students were well-prepared for the national exams.

This incident reflects the tuition obsession in Singapore, with parents shelling up to $6000 per month for lessons outside the school and families queuing to take entrance exams to qualify for popular tuition centers.

So why is there this obsession with tuition?

Public vs Private Education

Some school teachers find the reliance of some students on private tuition shocking. They fall asleep in class because their private tutors will review the topics with them anyway. They do not even attempt their homework, preferring to go through it with their tutors instead. One private tutor says that his student even asked him to write an English essay for him to copy before handing it in! This unhealthy reliance on private tuition has caused some teachers to wonder if the public education is too cheap, thereby causing parents (and the society at large) to take it for granted.

A private tutor, with ex-teachers as colleagues, suggests that the reason for such a robust tuition industry is because some current teachers are not experienced enough and their students have to seek help privately. She was told that there is a disproportionate number of teachers who are either younger (as they are bonded to the Ministry of Education) or older (as they are awaiting their pensions). According to her, middle-aged teachers with experience are leaving the workforce for alternative jobs, leading to a smaller core of skilled teachers.

Another private tutor suggests that tuition centers can guarantee As while public schools cannot. She frankly admits that the upmarket tuition center she is working for ‘sincerely wants their students to score distinctions’. The tuition center, in her eyes, is like a factory – students come in with Cs and Bs, and leave with strings of As.

Another factor why private tuition has become an obsession is because it can be easily quantified by numbers. It has become something to be compared and measured against. “My son has ten hours of tuition per week.” “So? Mine has twelve hours and the tuition costs me $3000!” “Right. Mine costs me $3500.” The numbers seem to hover continuously on some parents’ lips, always threatening to spill out.
Whatever the causes and reasons, the private tuition industry is expanding at an unprecedented rate. This proliferating industry reminds me of a Chinese proverb - 拔苗助长.

拔苗助 bá miáo zhù zhǎng

Once upon a time, there lived an impatient farmer. Every day, he would visit his field of saplings, anxious for them to grow. One day, he came up with a “good” idea. He decided to help his plants to grow by pulling them up. And so, he toiled to pull each sapling up. The field of taller saplings gave him a sense of satisfaction. The next day, these saplings died.

This Chinese proverb warns of the danger of artificially accelerating growth.

Nowadays, people force their children to learn topics way too advanced for their ages. Take, for example, the mathematical topic on solving simultaneous equations. This topic is supposed to be in the Secondary Two Mathematics syllabus. Some tuition centers are teaching it to Primary Four students! My Primary Three cousin already knows how to solve simultaneous equations and can remember the photosynthesis equation (which I only learnt in Secondary One).

While some students are coping admirably with such advanced topics, it seems unhealthy that they are learning these topics in anticipation of national examinations that they will only take a number of years later.

时了了,大未必佳 xiǎo shí liǎo liǎo dà weì bì jiā

Another Chinese proverb is illuminating. 小时了了, 大未必佳 suggests that children who are brilliant when they are young may not turn out to be equally so when they are older. The converse is true as well; there are always late bloomers among us and there are many noteworthy exemplars of such late bloomers.
A close friend shares her personal views:
It seems best for the child to show some promise when they are young. Not totally fulfill their potential. Just fulfill part of it. We shouldn’t offer them incredibly difficult tests that they can score well in for it creates a misplaced sense of complacency. Where else can they reach if they think that they’ve already reached their peaks?
Some families are understandably determined to give their children a head start in life, perhaps to the extent that they forget a head start is just part of the journey and not the entire journey itself.

So, What Do Students Need?

I’ve been a private tutor for the past three years and have guided students from both very well-off and fairly needy families. Over these years, I noticed some similarities between students from such diverse socio-economic groups.

Yes, it’s true that students need someone to clarify questions that they may have. In this way, private tuition may actually help some to score better grades. But, most of the time, tuition isn’t required. Most students only need someone to sit beside them and watch them study. Tutors are simply paid companions who spend a fair amount of time watching their students as they write their essays or attempt their equations or memorise their facts. Anyone can do this.

What most students really need is what many of us really need. They starve for people who are willing to listen to them and guide them along. My friend wryly comments that these students require nannies, not private tutors.

Some personal experiences

The reason why students don’t do well goes beyond fearful teachers and an unimaginative public education system. It goes down to what happen (or doesn’t happen) at home.

It has been frustrating to tutor students with well-educated parents. I’ve tutored a child whose father owns a company and mother is a doctor. Her parents are ex-Rafflesians with NUS degrees. They are busy and important people, no doubt, but in my opinion, they could afford to guide her more in her studies. They pay me to do it instead.

Her parents quarrel regularly and sometimes threaten each other with divorce. I know this because they frequently have screaming matches during the tuition sessions. This poor child doesn’t need tuition. She needs to be shown concern and care. She doesn’t need a tutor who meets up with her once a week to listen to her because he is paid to do so.  And she doesn’t need parents who quarrel in front of this hired stranger.

I’ve also tutored a few children from rather poor families. They struggle to earn money for transport and food. Yet, they insist on having tuition because they believe that education is a social leveler and can open doors for them. (I had wanted to tutor them for free but a social worker reminded me that this might create a sense of entitlement, cause damage to their pride and open a floodgate of requests. To assuage my guilt, I charge them much less than what I would charge rich families.)

These less well-off families should spend their money in other ways, not on private tutors, especially since textbooks, school teachers and the Internet can do what private tutors do.

The reason for students’ lackluster academic performances goes deeper than the flaws in the public education system. It depends greatly on the environment in which the students are brought up.

The Price of Tuition

Giving tuition is a lucrative business. The market forces have somehow decided to overpay tutors. They receive fat paychecks for spending the bulk of their time sitting around, doing nothing. Very few jobs offer such rich dividends (for such low risk).  To be honest, I've been in groups of private tutors which discuss how best to ask for more money from tutoring even when such pay rises are undeserved. In fact, I know of a private undergraduate tutor who earns around $1000 per month simply by giving 8 hours of tuition per week.

And the barrier to entry is low – almost anyone can be a private tutor because it is so easy to be one. Almost every university undergraduate has been and still is a private tutor. It is also easy to set up tuition centers. Just take a stroll within any shopping center and count the number of tuition centers there are.
It is for these reasons that the quality of tutoring varies greatly. Most tutors, in my opinion, are in it just for the money. But, if we don’t send our children to such tuition classes, what else can we do?

Suggestions

Some parents have called for regulation of the tuition industry by the Ministry of Education. This suggestion, unfortunately, does not solve the problem. Tutors are human beings guiding other human beings. In this regard, an A-level graduate can be equally, if not more, skillful than a graduate holding two Masters degrees. This intangible capacity cannot be quantified and regulated.

I’ve been told of the numerous flaws in the current education system. Really, there are simply too many to recount in-depth. Regrettably, it takes time for the system to change and it takes effort for people to want to change it. Perhaps it’s easier to work within the system, to find out ways to negotiate within it.
Here is an alternative to the numerous expensive tuition classes: parents can sit beside their children and supervise them. (Yes, I understand that parents are really busy but, surely, they can sit by their children, at night and on weekends, to do their own work and interact with their children every now and then.) They can ensure that their children study and advise them to mark down any challenges they encounter. These challenges can then be dealt with by reference to their school teachers or searching the Internet. This way, parents can easily half the number of hours of private tuition that their children take. Dr Petunia Lee’s book on motivating children to study, Internal Drive Theory, is an interesting exploration in this field.

I’ve some practical advice for students who wish to improve academically without paying heavy tuition fees.
1)      Read your textbooks, seriously, and download the syllabuses from the MOE website. Read the school notes from the better schools. I remember my school teacher telling me that 80% of the students don’t read their textbooks and don’t know their exam syllabuses. So, is it surprising that 80% don’t score As?
2)      Do some past year papers. With this, it’s sufficient to score decent grades, really. There’s no need to play games with the education system and attempt impossible papers conceived by schools desperate to maintain their reputation.
3)      Use your time in the classroom wisely. I don’t really pay attention during lessons. I’ll read my textbooks and practice past year papers. School’s a place to socialize and acquire soft skills. It really isn’t a place to listen to teachers, especially since they’re trying to cater to forty different students with one teaching method within two hours. Take any chance to ask your teachers questions that you’ve encountered in your self-study and save up on the private tuition fees!
4)      Acquire positive study habits.  Read books such as I’m Gifted so Are You by Adam Khoo and Being a Happy Teenager by Andrew Mattews. Learn to be self-disciplined and, over time, this discipline will bear sweet fruits.
Conclusion

One friend recently suggested that I abandon my Honours degree to become a full time tutor. He further advised me not to write this article because the current situation favors me, a private tutor who receives and turns down tuition offers frequently. I argued with him about how wrong this entire situation is and why tuition shouldn’t be seen as a necessity; unfortunately, this argument only produced useless repartees.

My elder brother also tried to convince me to be one of those star tutors who charge a few hundred dollars per hour. The resulting disagreement was vigorous. He told me that I could learn from tutors who charge ridiculously high prices because they were probably better tutors. What? Higher prices = better tutors? In the end, he called me an ‘inflexible bore’ (or something similar).

I know that this article may seem a little hypocritical, especially since I’ve admitted that I’m a private tutor. I also acknowledge that there’re extremely dedicated and experienced private tutors out there. However, I maintain that students do not need private tuition to do well academically. By all means, take tuition classes if there is a desire to and the family can afford it. But really, there is no need. Children should have less tuition classes simply because, most of the time, tuition just isn’t worth it.

There are so many other ways to score good grades. And what students really need is not an army of well-paid private tutors. What they need is an environment where they enjoy shelter, parental love and support. Parents, despite their busy schedules, ought to find more time to chat with their children and listen to their stories. This is a role that should not be outsourced to private tutors or school teachers.
I sincerely believe that an education is important – and that this education cannot come from private tutors.

Update on 9th September:
I'd like to clarify that this article is written based on my experiences of being a secondary school private tutor. Please read this reflective article by Petunia Lee, Why Tuition is Necessary in Primary School.

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The Perfect Worker

in

1 Bob Smith, my assistant programmer, can always be found
2 hard at work in his cubicle. Bob works independently, without
3 wasting company time talking to colleagues. Bob never
4 thinks twice about assisting fellow employees, and he always
5 finishes given assignments on time. Often he takes extended
6 measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping coffee
7 breaks. Bob is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no
8 vanity in spite of his high accomplishments and profound
9 knowledge in his field. I firmly believe that Bob can be
10 classed as a high-calibre employee, the type that cannot be
11 dispensed with. Consequently, I duly recommend that Bob be
12 promoted to executive management, and a proposal will be
13 executed as soon as possible.

Addendum: That idiot was standing over my shoulder while I wrote the report sent to you earlier today. Kindly re-read only the odd numbered lines.

- Agnes Vitug Mallari, Phillippines
Reader's Digest September 2011, pg 145

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Bubbling Joy In Barcelona

Sycophany/ Self-preservation

Romance of the two wisdom teeth

Art Appreciation 101