Misty Copeland

This month, decide to feature a lady from the dance circle & since Relm is currently aspire to be a ballerina, decided to feature Misty Copeland.

misty

source:fitblackwomen.com

She is the first African American principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Born in Kansas City, and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland did not begin studying ballet until the relatively late age of 13.

It has to be her love of ballet that despite in great pain, she performed the Firebird beautifully. She would learn later that her left shin suffered six fractures and required corrective surgery but through perseverance & passion, she overcame these obstacles & still danced on today.

Ballerinas train up to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week & why am I not surprised? Like every profession, only through training, practice, perseverance & drive for perfection can one even hope to be good at their trade.

So what do one learn? While one may not have an early headstart, one can still be an ace on their trade, just from sheer passion, perseverance & love for it.

 

 

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The dilemma of public vs private education

Is the current education availability landscape a boon or a bane  for the new age parents? Because of the knowledge & exposure to the global education landscape, the supposed ‘knowledgeable’ parents now became so concern with what ‘type’ of education they want their precious child to be getting. There are mainstream public school, private school, international & homeschooling – so many choices to choose from vs our parent’s time when there is just that one mainstream public school system.

I find myself reading, asking, analyzing & worrying excessively on what ‘sort’ of education system I should be sending my child to. My main priority is which education will help develop my child’s capability – but really when it comes to the nitty gritty part for me – it was just a simple – NO EXCESSIVE Homework !

Looking back, I only wanted my child to learn the Chinese language well so that she has access to more Chinese books vs just English books – which I often feel that I was at disadvantaged with. So I naturally enrolled my daughter to the local public Chinese medium school. And I never expect how my whole perspective change within the span of a year!

The accounts shared with parents of older kids attending the chinese school just shocked me & my experience of my girl getting all the weekly spelling from her kindy (according to the kindy, they are preparing the kids for chinese school) just does not sit well with me. I hear my sis in law complaining how her kid needing to complete the homework till 1am everyday & on top of that the kid’s weekends are spent on additional tuition classes.

So my question was – What is the school for then? If the kid has to do excessive homework & yet still go to weekend tuition classes – isn’t the school failing it’s role in educating the kids?

I firmly believe the parents’ well being is very important in a family. And I think if I (as the mother) has to be watching over my kid on her excessive homework every weekday nights after a working full day then weekends are spent on sending the child to tuition classes, I am pretty sure I will be not be very ‘well’ indeed – both physically & emotionally.

And thus – the alternative education came into the picture. Of course if the  alternative private / international school system is not available or even too expensive, I guess I will just have to resigned to my fate, but as I have mentioned – the availability & affordability have given us more choices. And precisely because of this availability, it furthers adds on to my ‘problems’ vs when I don’t have any other choice.

I always wonder why has the public education system eroded to just all memorizing & mugging? What’s with the excessive homework? Maybe our society has become really ‘complicated’ & the school is trying to keep up. But honestly I feel if anything, we need to simplify everything that’s getting so complicated now. People overthink & over analyze a small matter that they fail to focus on what matters. What matters is the child ‘understands’ what is being taught. Why 1+1 =2  & not 4 ? Why are we rushing them to do 20+14 when they don’t get why is 1+1=2 is not 4?

Honestly, does excessive weekly spelling actually help the child in building her vocabulary in building meaningful sentences? (eg. I had a hard time explaining the difference between happiness & happy – in Chinese to my 6 year old daughter, heck I don’t even know how to explain happiness – defined in dictionary as -state of being happy  in English!) So..how do one explain ‘state of being happy’ to a 6 year old ?!

Yes, our public education has failed us. Our leaders are not in touch with the current trends. Our teachers are overworked & underpaid. The kids are not ‘inbalanced’ & unhappy, it is not wonder that bullying at school has gotten more vicious & deadly.

I can either be grateful that I have the means to give my child the alternative ‘better’ education system or be ‘angry’ that despite my tax contributions, our government failed the citizens in providing a decent education for future generation of this country.

So what would I choose? Can I be both?

Yes yes.. first world problems…

 

 

 

 

Margaret Hamilton

This month under my ‘inspiring women’ category, I would like to feature Margaret Hamilton. She was one of the software programmer for the success of Apollo Spacecraft landing on the moon. To read more about her – just wiki it. Or read this  Margaret Hamilton (scientist)

She wasn’t supposed to invent the modern concept of software and land men on the moon. BUT she DID! How cool is that!

margaret_hamilton_in_action

Picture source from the wikipedia.

One should not be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ or  ‘I don’t understand,’ or to ask ‘dumb’ questions, since no question is a dumb question. To continue even when things appear to be impossible, even when the so called experts say it is impossible; to stand alone or to be different; and not to be afraid to be wrong or to make and admit mistakes, for only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

– Margaret Hamilton

When I was younger, I was afraid to fail. Afraid to tell teacher that I don’t get what she is teaching in that additional maths or in the physics class. I wished I had the courage to ask stupid questions like “WHY are we learning this”  or “HOW can this be applied”? . I am sure it would have got me interested in the subject to learn it with gusto.

So here you are – Relm, the wonders of science, maths, physics & logic can help one land a spacecraft ! And that’s being done by a women in the 1960s!!

Amelia Earhart

I have decided to feature 1 inspiring woman each month so that Relm can see the many possibilities that a woman can do (since I am pretty ‘affected’ by her Montessori’s concert depiction of ‘flying’ theme where only boys were pilots & girls as stewardess) when she finally can read lots on her own & even write her own blog.

So obviously, I will start with the first woman aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean – Amelia Earhart. Flying solo is not her only accomplishment of course – her achievements can be found in wikipedia of course!

amelia_earhart_circa_1928

pic from wikipedia

“Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

I am not advocating all women to be a pilot, but I will like young girls & ladies not to limit themselves to stereotype gender roles. What men do, women can too & what women do, men can too!

 

the education dilemma

Lately or rather the past 2 years, many research, arguments & articles were published with regards to academic vs play based learning for the young. For the last 20 years, the education methods has definitely developed for the better (or worse) & while I am not a 60 year old, I am still quite shocked at what a pre-schoolers are being taught & expected to learn in school vs my time.

I have written a few piece on my thoughts of this academic based learning in school. I went from shocked to submission with countless other ‘feelings’ along this ‘journey’ of acceptance that my daughter has to go through in this ‘education’ journey of her generation. And as I watched recent TV interview of a 12 year old & her everyday life revolving around the academics requirements, I can’t help but feel sad for her – so young yet she felt such burden for an examination.

Everyday, I hear people complaining how ‘lousy’ workers are & I am not talking about their attitudes. We hear complaints about their level of knowledge, their understanding of applying logic or mathematics & even their language proficiency. I also see many parents expecting quite a lot from their toddlers (I am one of the guilty parents) in terms of ‘knowledge’ of words (alphabets is like a given knowledge at age4 BTW) & maths. YET here we are, the very folks that complain about the ‘lack’ of knowledge or proficiency due to low standard ‘education’ that our current education is too academic based.

You see – that lies in the dilemma of the parents. Working parents faced, see & feel what lack of ‘education’ could cause yet they want their child to enjoy their childhood like they did (& at the same time secretly wanting their kids to excel in their academics).

The difficult truth is our education system is shaped by what the society wants. And the society is made up of you & me- the ordinary, conflicted & confused + full of dilemma parents. I am a very good example – I totally hate the fact that the school has ‘exams’ for a 5 year old yet when I see her reading Chinese characters (that looks like beansprouts to me) without hanyu pinyin, I was extremely happy/proud. At the point where I was ‘feeling’ happy/proud , I seemed to have forgotten that  ‘ability’ to read the chinese characters were from the excessive repetitive drilling by the pre-school teacher which I am supposedly so against of. <still I am going to post a picture here of her reading that chinese sentences that I couldn’t, just because I want to & happy about it>
image

We will never be able to come up with the ‘best’ education for our kids but we – the insatiable human beings – will continue to shape & develop what we ‘think’ is needed by the society of today or in the future (when we really can’t predict it so much actually). I mean kids are encourage to learn coding at 6 now (do you see my point now?) as the future seems to be about the A.I.

So really, we just can’t win with any type of education. Every kid is different, there is no one education that is suitable for everyone. While academic based education is something we should work to improvise to be more ‘fun’, a full blown fun based education may not be suitable for all subjects. Maybe our education should be more life based vs society based needs.

Me? For this time around, I am just going to enjoy that small happiness that I get seeing my 5 year old daughter reading something I can’t.

And for this time around, I am just going to live for the present & not worry about the future.

And for this time around, I am just going to let her go play with her neighborhood friends everyday after school

And for this time around, I am just going to let the school do their job while I concentrate doing my job as the mother.

 

 

 

 

Learning good manners again at 40

I had a 3 weeks hiatus as I was doing a few firsts at 40. I first saw the Northern lights, I finally got to try skiing (and suck at it of course) & I stayed in the Artic region for 7 days. While I enjoyed those experiences, my sister also experience first hand of taking care of my almost 5 year old daughter for 3-4 hours a day. There are good times & also bad times (like her highest ‘skill’ – crying).

So she found my girl to have bad manners – like 1) ignoring an elder  2) asking someone to go away while she watched TV (although I told many time to my family to NOT let her watch any) 3) did not address an elder. It does seem not like a ‘big’ deal, cos as I write it in words – it doesn’t seem big but when it is in action – trust me IT IS, especially coming from an almost 5 y/o.

Naturally, being a ‘google’ addict, I google for a method to help with my methods. One can find many (gazillions maybe) articles about this & most are teaching methods which surprisingly was not what I was really searching for. After much quick views of the many write ups, I found this – 7 ways to teach your child manners – it centered around the parents’ themselves – which is more inward looking vs outward.

My sisters & family members also suggested that I send her to a weekly ‘buddhism’ based gathering for kids which centered around teaching young kids good manners like respect, kindness etc. While I do not disagree to this method, I do feel that it is more than that. Spending 2 hours a week in these gathering isn’t going to help if the other 50 waking hours of the week that is spent with the family does not practice good manners isn’t it?

So, the difficult truth is – I have to take this ‘bad’ manners of my 5 y/o as my fault. Why? While I always remind her to address the elders when we meet one, I didn’t tell her why it was needed. Thus it will explain why she didn’t feel the need to do so when I am not around. While I did correct her ‘ignoring’ behavior when I see it, I didn’t go back & explain to her what it is like to be ignored (but that said, I do ignore her although not often when she was being whiny & unreasonable, she may have thought it is ok to ignore because mom does it). While I did correct her for being rude with ‘telling’ people to go away or taking things that are not hers, I did not explain to her why it is wrong to do so. While  I try not to chide her bad behavior when we are outside (insisting her way with my friends), I did not explain to her that her behavior was wrong when I am alone with her at home just because I am tired & just want her to sleep after the long day.

Lastly, I think I have taken for granted on my manners when I speak to Mike. We have become too comfortable with each other, we forgot to say please or may I or can I ? I raised my voiced often because of rush of time or tiredness, so to get things done quickly. That would explain why Relm likes to ‘tell’ vs ‘ask’ for anything.

I do not want to run away from this responsibility of my daughter’s bad manners. In fact, I do think the main cause is me – which saddens me & also served as a revelation for me. It is time for me to re-learn my manners with my daughter.

No wonder people say one learns a lot when one has a child. Not just learning with them & from them but also for them.

“penny wise pound foolish”

I will always remember this advice shared with me by a business owner. While he gave me this advice for a specific business operation matter, I feel this quote can be used in many other issues.

For business issues, while we want to cut down on costs – is cutting away employee benefits like providing a refreshment pantry with beverages going to help meet the company’s bottom line that much? I will call this penny wise? But we forget how the employee would feel – unappreciated & contributions worth to the company – and that’s pound foolish. An unhappy employee would not bother with giving their 100% to the company when one is not even worth 2 cups of coffee a day.

For business partners, while everyone strive to win – win in any business dealings, sometimes – losing is needed. And when losing is required, one should weigh the cost of winning at the other’s party’s expense. If one made a decision to win & forgetting the position of oneself in that partnership – then that’s penny wise pound foolish should the ‘losing’ business partner is stronger in technical, financial & negotiation power. Often times, the stronger position business partner can ‘lose’ but if the principles were wrong, then that ‘winning’ business partner is in hot soup – totally pound foolish.

For personal choices, while it is cheaper to eat out (at least in M’sia’s context) or to do home catering – which is penny wise vs cooking at home (more work – need to find fresh produce, need time to cook), would I sacrifice the value of quality of food & nutrition over dollar & cents? No. I rather to have less sick days for my kids vs cheaper catered food ie I rather not be pound foolish cos a kid getting sick means not just the medical costs but your work time loss.

There are many things in life that we sometimes need to make decisions based on costs but then sometimes the value of a decision / action is not just dollar & cents. Can one put a value of enjoying a good meal at a place you are not going to be again in the next 10 years by the additional $20 you have to fork out for that meal? Or can one put a value of learning new recipes just because you have to cook everyday?  Or even the value of having your kid learning to help you with household chores?  Yes – these can’t be valued by just dollars & cents.

I would forever remember this age old saying of penny wise but pound foolish.