Friday, September 1, 2017

Random thoughts: Myths of ways to academic achievements

Views are my own only. 

1) Tuitions must be given to children because everyone has it.

This is simply not true. In my experience with schools, I know there is no simple correlation between tuition and performance, especially if parents take the attitude of "dump money; solve problem" mentality. Children are not stupid. If u dun tell them or discuss with them the reasons for tuition, they will take their tutors as just. Answers machines. 

I know of children dying to take work home because it is so much easier to be a copier at home. I know, I have children dying to do compositions at home, because the tutor will help them with their homework. Even if a child is struggling with work, it is better for kids to ask the right questions to solve their problems instead of relying tutors for answers. In such an instant, tuition to more harm than good as it create reliance. I know of kids with tutors who just do their bidding. Parents should be mindful of what their children are getting on with their tutors.

To maimise the benefits of tutors (private or center), parents need to be sure what is the objective of having that extra help, and the kids must be aware of the intentions too. The intention of chasing that last mark to get a A* would be very different from someone trying to pass a subject. Similarly, if the parents' mentality is to get a "baby sitter" to kill time for kids, then dun expect fire-works. Also, just a bit of research would let you know what are the renowned centers out there. I have as a "spy" tried to get hold of their success formula, I must say their tactics centered a lot of "memory power" of kids. If your kid is bright, (I know politically incorrect, because every kid Are suppose to be bright and every school a good school, but in reality, there is such a thing as calibre), he/she should progress fine. If he is not academic inclined and lack motivation, memory of exam "answers" is not going to work. 

2) Let the child practice and practice.

David Souza of "how the brain works" said" practice dun make perfect, it make permanent". If there is no input, no point trying to force output. You are simply conditioning the. Child for the wrong method and leaving less space in the brain for the right methods. 

I have a personal example. My wife complained my son did very badly for his Chinese Tests. I looked at his papers and said"Ok, I know what to do for his score to improve"

On the night of revision, I was caught in jam from my dad's place. My wife trying to give them
Practice papers from other schools and going through corrections with them. 

I said "stop, let me take over. They are just listening to instructions and executing and not thinking" I know my son problem is in vocabulary and I know his school like to set questions that appear in the texts but not necessarily from the list of vocabulary stated in curriculum. So I ask them to read the texts, link up the vocabulary, retell the story. Then go on to another chapter and recall the previous. My son has a above average memory and it makes it a lot easier for
Me. His score jumped. Not excellent but good enough for me. He needs input, not more practices. The practices can increase the chance to hit 100% if done correctly, but I am not interested in drill and practice yet.

Now, my SIL keep harassing my wife to let our  kids do practice paper. Lucky my wife didn't like the idea and we decided that some practices might be ok torwards the end of the holiday but not everyday. She got my son books to read (input) which is way better.

3) We need to spend long hours and burn midnight oil to achieve the marks we want

I think frequency and clarity of learning objectives is more important. I told my weakest class, just promise me that They will revise 15 min everyday for their vocabulary and they will pass their Chinese paper and the score at section A will pull up the scores. Not everyone pass, but almost all show an improvement of marks and some pass for the first time for years. 

Having 15 min everyday with clarity of what is to be achieved is much better than having 3 hours once a week going through everything.

I think the theme here is clarity and mindfulness. Never just dump your kids to practices or tuition centers and then scold them for not performing and ask them why are they wasting their money.

Also, there are others with the hadicap of no extra-help. They are not coping that well academically but I think I would do worse in their shoes. My kid told me she can't come for my remedial, I ask why? She told
Me mum dun allow, I call and ask why, she says she need to work and she need to take care of 3 years old brother. If only her brother older.

Looking at all my "underachieving friends" in school, (went to several wakes, unfortunate mean to meet up) all of themare street smart and doing reasonably well
In life. Dun be too disheartened if you kid dun do too well in school ok. Some of them might be miserable enough 


  1. Would like to clarify that I have nothing against tutors. I gave tuition, my wife is a tutor and LP is a tutor I respect.

    This post is more for "others".

  2. Sillyinvestor,

    What you wrote about tuition can be applied to investing/trading too ;)

    Many just want to "copy" the answers.

    10 years down the road, their level of competence is their 1st year x 10 :(

    1. Smol,

      Ya, but I purely has the mindless pursuit of academic excellence in mind. Granted, not everyone has experince in education, but some of the mad driving of kids to excelllence is perhaps a bit too much

  3. Quote : "went to several wakes, unfortunate mean to meet up"

    Your school's friends in your age group or their parents/grandparents?

    1. Hi CW,

      One of them is my secondary school coach, the second my grandpa.

      I still young lei

  4. Hi SI,

    Maybe you could add in "don't memorize for the sake of memorizing."

    I know I did that for my Chinese.

    Back then, I memorized over 300+ sentences for the 造句 section but dunno what the vocabulary meant. It didn't end well. >.<

    华文老师, 不要杀我

    1. Hi UN,

      Wow!!!! 300 sentences!! With your memory prowess, just some coaching and strategies by your teacher you could well be on your way to academic excellence then and there.

      But see, no rush right ... u are where u are now

    2. Not efficient leh. Understanding followed by memorizing instead of memorizing without understanding is much better. I got a C for Chinese >.<

      The things I would do differently if I knew what I know now.... :(

    3. UN,

      I know it's not effecient. My idea is, the teacher has missed the chance for her/ his pupil to excel. 300 sentences without understanding.

      There are plenty of ways to help u. Since u are willing to do this kind of "nonsense". Spot the high frequency words, cut down the no. Of sentences to memorized, give translated version etc. since u are the hardworking type.


  5. Hi SI,

    Your post went over to Investingnote and I had a hard time trying to defend your stance. Aiyo...basically you are being shot left right center. Didn't expect this post to be that controversial, but it did.

  6. Huh? What post??

    Never mind la. Like them shoot lor.
    If they think otherwise, they can live otherwise. I dun impose my values on others. But if they Want a discussion, they can leave comment here

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