Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Auld Lang Syne



Even if we haven't had a clue what it means, Auld Lang Syne evokes an undeniable sentimentality, a disorienting nostalgia, an instantaneous affection for the people around you at that exact moment; loved ones and strangers alike.

These are monumental moments in our lives that we all share. These are common threads that can be so painful to go through, or incredibly wonderful experiences we never forget.

As I get older, it is more and more apparent that despite the significant differences in the cultures of our ever-shrinking world, we have much more in common than we acknowledge. We celebrate the same life achievements with joy. We all mourn the passing of loved ones with tears of sorrow.

I have never been a big "New Year's Resolution" guy, but I am definitely a nostalgic man. It's not that I don't like looking ahead; I do. However, I also enjoy taking the time on New Year's to look back on the year that passed.

Personally, 2013 was a big year as for me as I got married to the love of my life. There have been so many memorable moments -- too many to list here -- so all I will say is I hope that 2014 is filled with more of them.


As we sing along Auld Lang Syne while we celebrated each other's achievements, big and small. So, as we look back on 2013, and look ahead to a New Year filled with unknown possibilities, I will make one resolution just for you.

My resolution is to do the best job I can of sharing the many worthwhile stories that come to my attention. That's one resolution I am confident I can keep, and one that my loyal readers definitely deserve. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Three Ghosts of Christmas


In Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future on Christmas Eve. Each spirit leads Scrooge to view one of three different times in his life in order to teach him a lesson. The spirits are determined to convince Scrooge realize that he is not the man he should be and being more compassionate and less miserly.

The first spirit shows him that he used to be a much happier person.  This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again.  This spirit also shows him how important it is to be kind because of the impact that has on others. 

The second spirit shows him that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behaviour makes problems for other people.  It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.

The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn't change his ways.  It shows him that his current behaviour makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him. Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people. 

After his ordeal with the three Ghosts, Scrooge vows to make the changes necessary in order to alter his destiny. He exclaims, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.” The memories of the past along with the fear of coming judgment give him a more healthy perspective of the present day in which he is living and motivate him to invest in the lives of others.
- See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-lesson-did-scrooge-learn-from-each-spirit-126137#sthash.T9748MJm.dpufThe story obviously has a strong moral message that has resonated with many time and time again. I think it teaches more than one lesson; morals such as not valuing things more than people, that work shouldn’t be your life, being grateful for what you have and learning from past mistakes. Perhaps the lesson I take the most strongly from the book though it is that you “reap what you sow’” in life.

One of the most compelling scenes in the story is when Scrooge is first visited by the ghost Marley; he sees that he is doomed to perpetually walk the earth bound by heavy chains that are linked to what he valued most, the gold he coveted in life. When I think of this book that is the image that always comes to mind. Our actions have a consequence not only to ourselves but those around us: if you value only things that are all you will ever have.

I think it’s easy enough at this time of year to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Holiday. It always amazes me each year when I go out shopping how people zip around the parking lot, cutting one another off and pushing their way through quest at the checkout counter of shopping malls with little consideration for those around them. The lesson Marley is trying to teach Scrooge is that you aren’t what you have, you are what you give to others. Indeed in life we ‘reap what we sow’, as Scrooge learns charity and kindness is not a concern just of one day of the year but a daily consideration.

Happy Holidays everyone!
Ebenezer Scrooge learned the same lesson from the three spirits.  From all of them, he learned that he needed to turn his life around and be a happier, more caring person than he was at the beginning of the story.  Each spirit taught him a different part of that lesson.
The first spirit shows him that he (Scrooge) used to be a much happier person.  This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again.  This spirit also shows him how important it is to be kind because of the impacts that has on others.
The second spirit shows him that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behavior makes problems for other people.  It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.
The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn't change his ways.  It shows him that his current behavior makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him.
Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people (and even towards himself).
- See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-lesson-did-scrooge-learn-from-each-spirit-126137#sthash.XClTRQ9r.dpufIn Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who help him realize that he is not the man he should be.  When he is invited to view his own gravestone by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, Scrooge implores: “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.  Say it is thus with what you show me.” What do you think Scrooge meant when he said this
Ebenezer Scrooge learned the same lesson from the three spirits.  From all of them, he learned that he needed to turn his life around and be a happier, more caring person than he was at the beginning of the story.  Each spirit taught him a different part of that lesson.
The first spirit shows him that he (Scrooge) used to be a much happier person.  This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again.  This spirit also shows him how important it is to be kind because of the impacts that has on others.
The second spirit shows him that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behavior makes problems for other people.  It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.
The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn't change his ways.  It shows him that his current behavior makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him.
Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people (and even towards himself).
- See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-lesson-did-scrooge-learn-from-each-spirit-126137#sthash.XClTRQ9r.dpuf
Ebenezer Scrooge learned the same lesson from the three spirits.  From all of them, he learned that he needed to turn his life around and be a happier, more caring person than he was at the beginning of the story.  Each spirit taught him a different part of that lesson.
The first spirit shows him that he (Scrooge) used to be a much happier person.  This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again.  This spirit also shows him how important it is to be kind because of the impacts that has on others.
The second spirit shows him that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behavior makes problems for other people.  It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.
The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn't change his ways.  It shows him that his current behavior makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him.
Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people (and even towards himself).
- See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-lesson-did-scrooge-learn-from-each-spirit-126137#sthash.XClTRQ9r.dpuf
Ebenezer Scrooge learned the same lesson from the three spirits.  From all of them, he learned that he needed to turn his life around and be a happier, more caring person than he was at the beginning of the story.  Each spirit taught him a different part of that lesson.
The first spirit shows him that he (Scrooge) used to be a much happier person.  This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again.  This spirit also shows him how important it is to be kind because of the impacts that has on others.
The second spirit shows him that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behavior makes problems for other people.  It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.
The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn't change his ways.  It shows him that his current behavior makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him.
Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people (and even towards himself).
- See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-lesson-did-scrooge-learn-from-each-spirit-126137#sthash.XClTRQ9r.dpuf
Ebenezer Scrooge learned the same lesson from the three spirits.  From all of them, he learned that he needed to turn his life around and be a happier, more caring person than he was at the beginning of the story.  Each spirit taught him a different part of that lesson.
The first spirit shows him that he (Scrooge) used to be a much happier person.  This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again.  This spirit also shows him how important it is to be kind because of the impacts that has on others.
The second spirit shows him that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behavior makes problems for other people.  It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.
The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn't change his ways.  It shows him that his current behavior makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him.
Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people (and even towards himself).
- See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-lesson-did-scrooge-learn-from-each-spirit-126137#sthash.XClTRQ9r.dpuf

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Stand and Deliver





Did you know that some tuition centres are already seeing a drop in the numbers of students enrolling for tuition classes?

The reason is parents and students are preparing for the time when both the PMR and UPSR will be abolished. The PMR will end in 2014. Not clear when the UPSR will be abolished but many parents are feeling less "urgency" over their kids’ education.

I am in complete agreement that we should reform our education system to prevent it from “producing robots”. However, we need to first understand the cause of failure in our education system which isn't a result of having examinations per se.

As we all know, UPSR is a public exam that has to be taken for all the standard 6 students, before they proceed from primary school to the secondary school. While PMR is a public exam for a form 3 student, for them to be divided to enter the difference streams, such as science stream, art stream and etc.

The proposal to scrap examinations is not the miracle cure to producing analytical students, and may actual Firstly, without first changing our teaching systems to encourage creativity, critical thinking and innovation, removing examinations will make little or no difference to the quality of education for our students. For example, if the quality and ability of the teachers remain unchanged, then quality of output will make little difference. Instead, because of the lack of a standardised assessment system, the outcome might actually deteriorate due to the lack of objective measures.

Then, regarding to the teachers, when public exams are abolished, teachers will not be as creative as what the minister expected. When there is no public exam pressure, most teachers will take teaching likely. Syllabus need not be completed and students will take lessons likely. Weaker students will just ignore lessons in classes. Truancy will increase. Currently, teachers teaching exam classes face the pressure to produce good results. They have to conduct extra classes if they cannot finish the syllabus. With no public exam, teachers will not be bothered if they cannot complete the syllabus. Since exams are conducted internally, they just set questions on topics that they had covered.

Secondly, the problem of studying for examinations and producing students who focus on memorising and regurgitating answers is in the nature of questions itself. Very simply, if the examination questions today are orientated towards memorised answers, then understandably, the students will be focused on memorising answers. However, if the questions are oriented towards challenging students thinking skills, then certainly, the students will have little choice but to be more analytical.

Subjective questions which demands critical thinking and analysis by the students will require equally trained teachers who understands the value of such analysis, with emphasis not just on whether the student got the facts right, but whether the student demonstrated their ability to think.

The UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM are indeed major challenges. And it is an effective measure of everything - a national level yardstick by which we can measure how much our kids are learning, if the teachers are doing their job, if the school system is functioning well plus more.

Now all these are being removed - except for the SPM. I think this is not good for our next generation.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Prisonner 46664:- Long walk for Freedom


                                                                                      

I have been thinking about legacy since hearing of Nelson Mandela’s passing. As the radio and television have shared people’s stories and thoughts on this great man, this thought struck me.

Even in his parting, Nelson Mandela has given us a gift. The opportunity to look beyond today and towards the lessons learned from his life that may help all of us tomorrow. That legacy is rich and potentially rewarding if we are willing to embrace it.

Nelson Mandela was a patriot, pragmatist, and the rare leader who realized that what matters most are first principles rather than tactics. For Mandela that meant staying true to his vision of a democratic and free society built on equality, freedom, and human dignity while remaining flexible on the means of achieving that vision. It allowed him to initially take a “by any means” necessary revolutionary approach and then to evolve into a leader who embraced peace and reconciliation.


President Mandela’s evolution reminds us of our complexity as humans and our ability to grow and as well to achieve greatness. Is Mandela a one of a kind leader or are we able to learn from and build on his legacy? Can I, as well as our national leaders, affirm the first principles of our founders while remaining flexible on the tactics for achieving our national ideals? Can we play to the base, but rise above it when the national interest demands as much?


I am hopeful that we will embrace Nelson Mandela and his legacy beyond the current news cycle. In so doing perhaps we will be inspired to take on some of the biggest challenges facing our nation with an emphasis on principles rather than partisanship.