Friday, December 25, 2009

Innocence of Times Past

What do we remember of our childhood? It is most interesting how you will always learn new things about what you were as a child from your parents as we grow up and yet wonder why we could hardly remember that particular incident.

Recently, my mum reminded me of a wonderful habit I've always had when I was a child. Whenever we return home after an outing, the first thing I would do would be to recount and thank my mum for bringing me to all the different places as well as purchasing different things in chronological order. This, according to her, certainly brought a smile to her face.

Frankly, I have no recollection whatsoever of such a habit. But what's more important is what I realised upon reflecting on this little habit of mine in contrast to the life I'm experiencing now. It is amazing how easy it was for me to say thank you with such sincerity. The innocence of my youth is coupled with an intrinsic wisdom to truly appreciate only the good things that truly matter in life.

In contrast, we adults are more hesitant on such matters and evoke a sorry excuse of the complexity of an adult world. Yet, in this sorry state we are in, we often pile up so much frustration and nonsense in our lives that we always miss the point. In this tangled mess, we drift from our friends, our families and adopt a most pessimistic view of life and everything else.

This Christmas, let us adopt the heart of a child and be active in appreciating our family, friends, loved ones and all the great things that matter in our lives.

Then he said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives a little child like this in my name receives me."

~ Matthew 18:3-5




Friday, December 11, 2009

An Education

From time to time, we pick up a book not to entertain ourselves but to recieve an education. For me, that book was It Doesn't Take a Genius: Five Truths to Inspire Success in Every Student by Randall MCcutcheon and Tommie Lindsey.

While it is a reference material for teachers to help them bring out the best in their students, it is also a lesson for myself for it compels me to reflect upon my life so far. It was a fanstastic journey reading the whole book in four days as I got to look myself in the hypothetical mirror and revisit certain lessons that some of the greatest teachers in my life have taught me. A tool for personal reflection as well as a trip down memory lane makes this book an absolute treat!

For those who havent read the book, I shall not divulge too much of its contents (that's because I really want you guys to read it) but I'll do a quick summary of the five truths and some of the interesting lessons I've learnt from it and how it features in my life. (A teaser plus something personal for you guys to know me better!)


First Truth: Be The First Believer

This section talks about how teachers must believe that every student is unique and it is this belief that will carry a student through despite how impossible it seems. It features various instances in which the authors stick to their beliefs about the student's ability and potential and they managed to achieve something that seemed improbable at the beginning.

How often do we find ourselves having big dreams only to be deflated by cynics or the lack of people who are willing to support you or guide you? How many times do we find ourselves speaking to someone with a polite smile whenever they talk of their aspirations? Do we truly support the group of people that we call them friends?

Sometimes, being there and believing truly means a lot. It can be a great source of strength for anyone on this confusing journey of life and something good often turns out of it. Being the first believer takes far more than saying 'I believe'. It takes every part of you to believe with utmost sincerity. Even little action of consideration goes a long way. For example, if someone tells you he wants to be a professional singer in future, just steering clear, giving him a conducive and peaceful environment while tolerating his initial screeching is a clear example of being a believer than just paying lip service.

As such, I would like to say a big Thank You to all those who believed in me. This is especially to my teachers (Mdm Annie Yong, Mrs. Geetha Creffield) who believed I could achieve before I knew for sure.


Second Truth: Class is Never Dismissed

We have always heard of the phrase life-long learning but we always forget that to learn for a lifetime, there must be someone who teaches for a lifetime! The teaching and learning never stops and all teachers must be mindful of that. This is a call for teachers to be more than just a source of guidance in the field of academics but to be the moral compass of the students. It also speaks about expecting the best of your students in order for them to improve. I particularly love the lesson about how to be champions, one must act like one and be the bigger man or woman.

Through the process of learning, we do deal with lessons about love, life and everything else. There are definitely many instances that will remain etched in my mind forever and so I've got to thank Mr. Francis Liew and Gerard Sebastian Raj for one of the best lessons about life. As promised, I shall relate to you a story that taught me about trusting and loving the people you work with in order for a successful collaboration to occur.

It was at the end of my end-year production for Arabian Nights when I was in J1. I wrote to Raj to thank him for all his patience in teaching us the dance and I apologised profusely for being rather slow in learning it which would definitely be a source of frustration for any choreographer. What was totally unexpected was the fact that he replied saying that I was never a source of frustration. In fact, he appreciates me trusting him and his craft and that is what is really needed by a choreographer from his dancers. That note certainly spurred me on to persist despite how difficult the dance is and what a performative career I had during my JC days!


Third Truth: Words Seldom Fail You
This section has more to do about academics than anything. It talks about the power of words and how it does affect students. The need to cure students of aliteracy and bring back the joys of reading. Additionally, it does offer some tips and advice to help improve students' speaking skills.

I've always been in love with words all my life and it is only now that I get to savour how great an impact words can have on people. For that, I have to thank my mum for this for she cultivated a love for reading in me albeit due to achieving a more practical benefit. When I was young and I travel with my mum on public transport, she'll often shove me a book to read throughout the journey. While it was an undeniable attempt to keep me quiet during the journey, this expedient gesture did work. Yet, to be fair, my mum does have a love for reading and she does believe in a good education. Therefore, it was a clever ploy on her part to kill two birds with one stone.

Aside from appreciating literature, the power of words does play in my personal life. I am always enamoured of sincerity and do relish some of the things and exchanges that I shared with various friends. Those things that they say to me will stay with me forevermore. I love you guys!

Fourth Truth: Writer Blocks But Rarely Tackle
This is a practical section that offers some wisdom to overcome writer's block. It is certainly interesting to see how different writers draw inspiration for writing. Yet, one of the sobering message of this section would be that great ideas need to be worked on and not by waiting for the proverbial muse. Useful tips such as doing research or approaching the experts directly for the content in your writing will certainly serve its purpose in future.

Fifth Truth: Pay Your Do's
This last truth just about rounds up all the principles in this book: Loving, Attending, Association, Persisting. (I'm sorry I can't remember all the principles at the top of my head...)
It really speaks about the need to love the people around us. To be truly there for them and to have their back all the way.

Attending speaks of the need to be there and in the moment be it in a debate, giving a speech or just plain communicating with someone. How many times have we heard one another speak but never listened? How many times have we misunderstood each other because we were not there for each other?

Associating speaks of the need to be in a proper and good company. It speaks of having students and children be around people who will guide them and inspire them the right way. As such, I'd always remember the associations I'm around with when I was with ACsian Theatre. Perhaps was is a wrong word, I'd guess I never really left.

Persisting is self-explanatory. But one of the biggest pay-offs in me persisting would be my drama career in JC. I did face a lot of problems and went into uncharted territory which can be absolutely frightening. But I do have to thank Ms. Michelle Wong, Mrs. Geetha Creffield and Gerard Sebastian Raj for being there for me all the way and in their own silent way, urging me never to give up.

Once again, thank you to everyone who have impacted me in everyway and cheers to many more years of learning, love and friendship!