30.8.05

Repeat it slowly for me

adam-small
There's an earlier post with this painting, but it seems more apt here now

The principal I work quite closely with was telling a couple of us this story about a boy hauled into her office for shouting a string of hokkien vulgarities at a teacher (as part of her larger tale of gangs resurfacing at her school).

Principal: Ok, Ah Huat (let's just call him that, the name of my favourite Potong Pasir Cheng Tng seller) What did you say to Mrs So-So?
Ah Huat: [Still somewhat agitated]...
Principal: What did you just say to Mrs So-So that made her so angry?
Ah Huat: Er...I...
Principal: Just repeat it for me...slowly, nevermind, say it slowly.
Ah Huat: #^@...$!...%....* ...

How we had laughed during lunch. Ah Huat stopped after a few phrases, I think, realising how his words sounded. But as story went on, rest assured the laughter stopped. His was another story of abuse, poverty, broken relationships and a kid bottling up his own sense of guilt about the violent mess of life in his 20ft by 30ft apartment.

I reckon she'll make a good principal to the precious young artist types who are bound to appear in the school my department is helping to set up. And hopefully, if meritocracy works, the school will be a place for talented kids from many different socio-economic backgrounds.

4 comments:

fortycalibernap said...

i'm very glad to hear you're working your way into a school.

there's nothing like art for engaging children of any sort. it's especially good for children like that boy -- he just needs to learn to trust, which is hard for him.

i used to be a waldorf teacher. . . those schools have plenty of problems, but one thing they get right is the notion that some form of art is incorporated into every aspect of teaching.

samuraibunny said...

i went to a convent school too! convent schools .. and remained largely underwhelmed for the most part. the one you're setting up sounds fun.

ampulets said...

yup, it's been fun so far getting to work in whatever small way on this project...but it's also crazy, given that it has the potential to attract some public and media attention eventually.

the national education system in singapore, despite all the policy announcements made about "teach less, learn more" (that's a slogan from our education ministry!) etc, there's so far been lip service paid to the arts in education. Some schools are doing fine...but most of our schools are still maths and science-centric only...and pedagogically probably on the other extreme end from waldorf steiner (sic?).

the most conspicuous absence from many school curriculum is the study of literature. many of us lament about this, but really, there's very little done to address this that is effective.... sad huh?

samuraibunny - you are a "convent girl" too! ah, one well trained in ninja ways, no less.

fortycalibernap said...

waldorf (and you've got it right, since they're known as "steiner" schools outside of North America) also has the ground pretty well covered on the literature side, too:

Every lesson, from first grade on, is presented in the form of a story. It's worth noting that these stories (whether fairy tales and fables in the early grades or the Mahabharata in the middle school or biographies in upper levels) are presented orally by the teacher from memory.

Somehow (I won't even begin to attempt to try to explain it in a comment, this will already be far too long) that human element is what ends up connecting to the children.

W/S schools are weakest in math and science, but that's not due to any failure of the philosophy. It takes a bit more work to develop artistic ways to present these lessons, and most of the teachers come from a liberal arts background and maths and sciences are not their strong suit to begin with.

Traditional education (which is originally a Prussian model) works for a certain type of learner: sit still and work entirely through your head, become an intellectual sponge that can regurgitate on command. Good students end up with a strong grasp of facts, are usually short on recognizing context (which art promotes), and consequently struggle when facing novelty or an unusual problem.

It's the difference between amassing a factual toolbox and learning how to think , or growing up with a love of learning.

Yeah, I care about this one.

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