Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Visionary thinking

My morning quiet time led me to reflect the importance of vision. Hybels (1994) offers 3 definition of vision as an important character quality.

Vision is
  1. a God-given ability to see posible solutions to the everyday problems of life;
  2. the ability to see beneath the surface of people's lives
  3. the ability to catch a glimpse of what God wants to do through your life if you dedicate yourself to Him. (Hybel, 1994, p.23)

Indeed, it was refreshing to study the biblical context of vision through the conversation of Jesus with the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30. Questions that triggered me to think about my vision include:

  • Do I see myself obeying all of the commandments?
  • Am I willing to give up everything, i.e., my earthly possessions, to bless the poor and/or to submit to follow Christ as he beckoned with "Then come, follow me"?
  • At what cost?
  • Do I put my faith in God and fully surrender to the hope of "with God all things are possible" (Mat 19:26)?
  • Am I willing to be the last as Jesus reminded the disciples that the "many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first" (Mat 19:30)?
  • Does Jesus see me as a potential heir of the eternal life?
  • How do I honour God in the way I live my life?

Hybel provided an interesting analogy that if we fix our eyes on our problems, then its like spending our whole life spinning our wheels and cursing the mud. Conversely, if we cultivate vision and explore ways to deal with them, then "not only will you avert all sorts of discouragement, but you will also discover how much creativity and wisdom God wants to give his children who look to Him for help." (1994, p.23). Praise be to God for allowing us to come to Him and trust Him to open or close doors as we follow the vision He plants in us.

The promise that Jesus provided points towards a simple formula- Create the vision by claiming that all things are possible with God. Ask Him for wisdom and head out in faith.


Hybel, B. (1994). Character: Who you are when no one's looking. England: InterVersity Press.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tipping the Balance of Time Management

The encouragement below is from Stavros- my room mate back in Buffalo. A remarkable young chap who joined the program right after his marriage and straight off his honeymoon. I shared with my Stavros my recent dilemma of finding a right balance with work, family, masters project and time for personal reflection. Stavros rightly pointed out how creativity is needed to manage this turbulent state of doubt and insecurity. For lack of a better picture, this is one of the most memorable moments we shared with Nate in your parents' place and the wonderful spread of great Italian breakfast... Thanks Stavros for your constant blessings!

When I'm feeling sad i think of a lesson I learned from Tony Robbins. He says that at any given point in time we are making 3 decisions;

  1. What am I focusing on?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. What am I going to do about it?

If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed and focusing on that, then you must decide what that means to you. Maybe it means that you are in the process of making great strides in your career, or maybe it means that you are making a sacrifice of your time for other priorities like family. So what are you going to do about it? will you remember that it it is all worth it and give your self a boost of energy. Will you determine that you need more reflection time and take it for yourself?

Just remember, it is all up to you. You make your own reality, the universe is merely conspiring to bring it to you. Choose wisely and consciously. you deserve the best.

At times I also feel a little overwhelmed by this transition. It is sometimes daunting to think i have no car, no job, not even a bed right now. But for the moment I am choosing to focus on the challenge at hand and the rewards it will bring. the fact that i'm scared only means that i'm scared and that it is perfectly normal. So what i'm going to do aboout it is keep winning small battles. Get the cable to work. Find a car. Make a few phone calls about work. Keep making progress on my school work.

I hope i can keep a strong mind about it. I pray for your & my best outcomes and journeys.

Reply to my blessed friend: Thanks for the timely reminder. Yet, if you may allow me too to encourage have a supportive wife, great parents and a lovely Bungalow on St Thomas Island! Wonder why my thoughts drifted into seeing you as the Next James Bond! LOL

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Will I become too distracted to Listen

Perhaps the pace of society goes by so fast, we sublimely loose some of the most valuable things around our lives. One of which I notice is that we rarely give or recieve the gift of truly listening. Yet, if we claim that 'time is the new currency' then does that mean that both time and money are precious in our sight? I think its not about the money, but rather about the time commitment required.

I recieved a call recently from an ex-student's mother. Over the phone she cried bitterly on how she failed as a mother. She struggled as a divorcee to do her best at work so that she could provide the material needs for her son. Her struggle led me to recall another online conversation with a dear friend in UK. I quote: "Yes, communication in families and now across the world (facilitated by the Internet) should underpin the change that is coming. Market forces alone will not fix things and adequately respond to those societal ills to be found across the globe." (

As I heard my inner voice fearing a future where I myself may blindly become estranged to my children, I stopped to reflect what are the interventions I can proactively take to prevent that from happening today. The birth of 'Structured Fun Learning' (see entry of 28 Aug in with Joshua was in my opinion successful with him looking forward to the time we spend together each evening.

This came about I started asking myself from the pespective of a repentent father who had been uninvolved in my children's growth. The questions I postulated led to deeper thoughts..

  • How has the gap between me and my family widened?

  • What went on in their lives and who are those they choose to confide to?

  • HOw often do I spend one-on-one time together?

  • What were some of the best conversations I've had with them?

  • Did I help them to understand the critical issues/dilemmas of thier lives?

  • What will I say 10 years later when we step out of the house in the morning?

  • What are some of the best conversations I've had with them?

  • What did I learn about them from the small talks and did I "hear" the deeper issues that could have been on his/her mind?

  • What was unique about that time together?

  • Why was it easy for me to talk?

  • How can I create an atmosphere appropriate for parent-child bonding?

  • How can I proactively plan for interaction time together?

  • How can I be more responsible and how do I push for accountability?

I am glad I pondered upon the above questions. The rules, though seemingly simple, are fundamental in shaping work-life balance. The harsh reality of survival, tends to tip this balance to a side that may bring about irreversible consequence. May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit lead us husbands and/parents into daily knowledge of the importance to just stop and listen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My Vision, Mission & Anchors

“… the creative person also is a self-actualized person – a fully functioning,
mentally healthy, forward-growing human being who is also using his talents
to become what he is capable of becoming.” Maslow, 1968

My vision is to spread the cause of creativity to empower myself and others to live a more purposefully driven life!

My mission follows for the next five years to enjoy the liberation and fulfillment by explicitly thinking out of the box to create greater fulfillment and meaning through building strong connections with God, people, education, parenting, and blogging- deeply centred on values.

Having articulated my vision and philosophy, I have encapsulated them into the following 3 states of personal ‘mindfulness’ (Boyatzis & McKee, 2005):

Consciousness- Self-actualization: To enjoy the process of deliberating, working through challenges, and building small steps of successes by bringing ideas into fruition;
Connections - Synthesis and meaning making: Through collaborations and co-creations by strengthening relationships and driving new directions of work both within the Ministry as well as in personal areas by helping others to see ‘new meaning’ of common interest;
Communication- Simonton’s 5th P of Persuasion: To be the catalyst that help other discover “ideas that are so good that they change the ways others think” (Runco, 2007) through networking, curriculum partnerships and blogs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Salt & Light of the World

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses
its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for
anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill
cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good
deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

A friend shared this with me ..."me pp may think that i am very stupid to let my bosses know where i am gg...and even shared with one of them abt my depression last yr and it was through God's grace tt i recovered. XX once told me tt she's very surprised tt i could be very open cos she no longer can trust anyone......i just felt tt by sharing i can also proclaim my faith, let other pp know how God has worked on and healed me...... "
I was encouraged by her trust in God. This was my reply to some of her concerns. I know I went through this phase of struggle just a few days back and God sent my own wife to encourage me too.
" Its a heavy rain cloud over your shoulders and I know that though the storm will come, once passed, you have grown as a person with what adversity will do. Think about a cup half full or half empty.... you may currently be filled with water. But only half full. What if I pour in another half cup of concentrated hot healing herbal fragrant tea. The analogy is how I see change especially to that of an uncertain future. There are just too much unknowns in life and thats why God never leaves us alone to bear all these heavy decisions- and thats why u have ** and us.
About being open as a person, that is how you -and even myself- our preferred way to engage the world, where our energy naturally flow to associate with people. Look at how Joseph the dreamer goes around to tell his family about his dreams. Yet the outcome was a betrayer by his brothers. But that was his immediate future. We may be hurt like others and *** is absolutely right. Yet, God honoured Joseph's faithfulness and used his talents -after many times of "failing" in life- and rose him to be a Pharaoh. Thus, we can only ask God- what is his plans for us. Trial and temptation may come, and we sure will fall, but thats where our faith will take us to a place where He knows whats best for us. And with each step, as we celebrate the small successes of experiencing His grace, we can testify his victory in our lives. Yes, I am looking forward to coming back.
Two days back, I sms Van to tell her how overwhelmed I am with all the assignments. She replied "Don't give up. Whatever difficult times and impossible it is, we have coped for the past 7 weeks. There is no mountain too big God cannot move it. (though I felt my paper assignments were even heavier than mountains). YOu can do it and will be back next week. Why don't you go out for some fun (I am not sure if she understands what this "liberation" can do to me...hee hee) Lonely and freedom days going to be over soon. (interesting how she paradoxically juxtaposed the two...hmmmm... sounds like what I will think to myself on the eve of my wedding day) We love you. Thank God Joanna is better already."
Our God is Jehovah Jireh.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A poem of quiet comtemplation

Surrounded by the beautiful majestic buildings built in the 1800s
o did my spirit sailed as I sat quietly by the Hudson River.

The stillness of Hudson river beckons me into deep thoughts
as I wondered, why did it have to separate two cultures-
of the old town of Troy and the clamor of Albany.

Yet as I lay ashore my dreams of yonder days
like the river, my heart was quiet, lonely, and pained.

A deep longing desire lingers....

Historically, Sir Stamford Raffles- founder of modern Singapore, was also part of the East India Company.

Interestingly read from the net a story of the Hudson river- extracted from (beautiful shots of the river in this page too)

"It is named for Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch East India Company, who explored it in 1609....The Hudson River, called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk in Mahican, the Great Mohegan by the Iroquois,or as the Lenape Native Americans called it in Unami, Muhheakantuck, in Tuscarora, is a river that runs through the eastern portion of New York State and, along its southern terminus, demarcates the border between the states of New York and New Jersey. The Father of Waters would seem to have been known to many tribes by names more or less similar to that which it bears to-day. It is no doubt true—happily true—that very many of the streams of North America bear Indian names. But these have very generally been given to them by the whites, and were borrowed from the tribes living on their banks at the date of the discovery. The waters received the names of the clans hunting on their shores. The red people had no doubt names of their own for some of the streams in which they fished, but it is probable that these were applied to certain reaches only of the rivers most familiar to them. For some of the important lakes the Iroquois certainly had names of their own, for instance, Caniaderi-Guarunté, or, The lake gate of the country, for what is now Lake Champlain, and Andiatarocté, or, Here the lake closes, for Lake George. These significant phrases, as applied to those waters, have been clearly ascertained.When explorers and colonists crossed the ocean they gave, as a rule, the names of the wild tribes to the rivers on which they met them. Very few received European names. The exceptions on the Atlantic coast number just half a dozen; the St. Lawrence, the Hudson, the Delaware, the James, the Ashley and the Cooper. Of these only one, the Hudson, recalls, the discoverer.Strictly speaking, however, Hendrick Hudson, could not claim the full honors of a discoverer”…………….

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ultimate Greyhound Experience

I have been in US since June 8 and what happened yesterday would probably have been the most memorable incident for this trip (thus far!). As I made a detour to Denver to visit some friends down at Emergenetics Int., I decided to stay on to fully immerse myself in the Rockies experience of my life time.

I was back in Denver after travelling with the Harold, Vice President EG to Branby and Steamboat to conduct training for the leaders in these districts, I was ready to embark on my own to head up again to the mountains, by myself. And then, the excitement began. To be as factual as I can, this was what happened on the 26/6.

  • 11.00am : Bought ticket to proceed to Glenwood Springs. Bus was to leave Denver station at 12.01pm and arrive at my holiday destination at 3.30pm (so I hoped).

  • 11.30am: I placed my luggage in the queue and sat beside a new friend- Chen Bo, 陈博. He is 22 years old, just completed his college with Brown University (one of the Ivy Leagues)- with a scholarship by Oracle, he came from China to study Computer Science for the past 4 years. This young led had quite an adventure as he was tugging 3 huge luggages- of which he shared that he kept a DESKTOP and belongings of the past 4 years, as he travelled around US for holiday.

  • 11.35am: Then came a dainty old lady who sat beside us and kept talking, singing and chatting-with herself. I volunteered to help her put her flowery 2 wheel bag so that she could reserve her place behind mine. Her bag which I handled has a interesting link later so let me call her 'Mdm Y'.

  • 11.45am: Chen Bo rushed to see if he could get himself up the bus heading for San Francisco (oh yes, its a total of 19 hours of bus ride from Denver) I was glad he managed to get a last minute ticket. I quickly helped him to pull his luggage to the bus. However, as he only had one bus tag, he needed to run in to request for another. As I overheard a Mexican lady running in to buy that ONE last ticket too, I decided to help him push his luggage into the cabin first ... being a typical kia-su Singaporean, I do know whats best in that dire situation. Just as I was about to succeed, that lady ran forward and shouted, "I got it, I got it" Immediately the bus driver pushed out Chen Bo's bag and exclaimed, "I am full". Poor Chen Bo was still at the counter behind as the bus left the station. My heart went out to him when he ran back and all he could say was " What the F@#*...." He then realised that as the last ticket was 'open' for purchase, both counters proceeded to sell it at the same time to Chen Bo and the Mexican lady. They then got him a ticket on my bus that will head to Los Angeles thereafter he needed to change to San Francisco. I was filled with pity thinking it would be quite a ride for him.

  • 12:05pm : Back to my queue, I helped Chen Bo join me as the line was getting realllllly long. I introduced him to my 2 new friends. Jacob was this fabulous man from Florida as well as this Chinese Filipino. Jacob is really one of the most friendly Americans I have seen so far. Our early conversation led me to admire how he gave up a 10 years post as a manager for Continental Airways and decided to rough it out by travelling around US and took on odd-time jobs to travel and earn a living. The Chinese Filipino worked for a company that service hotels and manage their servers. At the same time, Mdm Y-the old lady behind me sat on the floor and pulled out her bra from under her shirt and threw it straight into a nearby bin. I caught it and frowned as I quickly looked away.

  • 12.30pm : The bus had not arrived. I continued to chat with my new group of travelling buddies. Jacob who has worked with the American transport system mourned that we should be glad if the bus can arrive within the next hour. He shared of his experience when the bus was full of passengers but at the transit with change of drivers, the other driver never turned up until 12 hours later. In my mind, my first response was , "Lord, have mercy...."

  • 1.20pm : The bus finally arrived. Driver looked friendly. Passengers were relieved as we boarded the bus. After we were nicely settled, up came a big size man with long beard and long hair. He made his first impression as he called out while walking down the aisle "Who is the lucky one to sit beside me".. my eyes darted him as he moved to the back and sat with the rowdy group of teenagers. They loved him instantly as they were swearing and talking aloud. He was THE lead character so let me call him 'Mr X'.

  • 2.45pm : Out of nowhere, Mr X shouted out from the back, "This is one of the most beautiful part of the Rockie mountain..." the driver reminded him to keep quiet as passengers were resting. Mr X continued and proclaimed his great love for America. Driver pulled over at the side at highway 70 and Mr X walked forward and called out "Whats your F*#$*ing problem..." The rest of the bus kept really quiet. I was scared.

  • 3.10pm : Mr X shouted again, "Does anyone have gums... the children here have popping ears" No one responded and he continued shouting til someone offered.

  • 3.30pm : Driver made a surprise announcement- he had to pull up at Frisco. He informed that the belt for the air conditioning was broken and had to call for the mechanic. A mechanic needed to drive all the way from Vail to repair and may delay for another 1.5 hours. The bus all mourned then in unison. Pulling up at a gas station with Wendy's, my buddies and I decided to dine. While waiting for rest to get off the bus, Mr X walked past and commented to this Korean lady who was travelling by herself, "Hey pretty, you wan to have fun with me?" She ignored him and he sneered.

  • 4.00pm : We heard some quarrelling across the store next door. Apparently, old Lady Mdm Y made some racist remark to the Afro-American and I was told in her feat of angered, she....bared her saggy breast. She was then chased out. At the same time, someone came over and told us that the driver has called in the police to handle Mr X.

  • 4.10pm : Police came and interrogated Mr X, with Driver and some others surrounding. We watched the drama from inside the store. We were told that Mr X was drunk, with his liquor kept inside the coke bottle that he was holding throughout the trip. When he opened his bag, to my horror, there was a PISTOL in there. Imagination ran wild with "What ifs...." Finally Mr X was gone.... to my great relief.... so I thought.

  • 4.45pm : The bus was repaired and ready to go on. At this moment, I saw Mdm Y's purple sweater outside lying on the rock and I called out to driver that Mdm Y was missing. At the moment, someone spotted Mdm Y in a far away spot. She called out to Mdm Y but Mdm Y just walked on, in the direction away from the bus. "What the heck ..." I thought and I got off the bus to run after her. I was glad I caught up... half panting half shouting, I called out "Hey madam, the bus is leaving, ... come on, lets go" She took me by surprise by hiding behind a trunk and called back, "I heard you.... get lost... I am not going back... go go ....." Momentarily, I was at a lost, "Should I stay or should I go?" If I were to grab her by force, I could be arrested for sexual harassment. The earlier scene with Mr X and the police was not what I want for myself. "This is America.... " and Michael Buble's song of 'Home' came into my mind, so helplessly, I ran back to the bus. Everyone greeted me outside and asked what happened. I only could recount what she said. People started speculating what could have happened, as they recalled what happened to her in the store earlier.

  • 5.10pm : After discussion, they formed yet another search party that consisted of a tall Canadian man, a young American lady and two bouncy teenagers. After 10 min, they returned with no news of her. My heart sank, and I happened to catch a piercing glare from another passenger. She must have thought I murdered her and threw her body into the swamp. " us" The funny thing was some of us started wondering if this whole episode was filmed or were we part of 'Lost- season III'. This was far more dramatic than we could anticipate.

  • 5.30pm : Another police car arrived, and they proceeded to search for her. Ten minutes later, they returned and told the Driver to proceed. I then took her purple sweater and put it back where she left. Driver assigned me to bring her flowery bag to the Glenwood station.

  • 6.45pm : The air con belt broke again and the driver decided to continue driving. The tall Canadian man volunteered to push open the top ledge to allow the cool mountain air to flow in. Another mishap.... his finger got stuck by the ledge and he yupped in pain... ah....

  • 8.00pm : I finally arrived at Glenwood Springs. Deposited Mdm Y's bag and started to find how to get to the hotel. Jacob my good friend was a fabulous chap. He helped the 2 Norwegian ladies (one a teacher, another a grandma who runs some big company) find their long lost friend whom they met 30years ago, just by looking up the yellow pages. Amazing. He then helped to call the hotel and I realised it was about 2 miles away. I was exhausted and there were no cabs around. Thankfully, an American boy came along and told me of the free bus service that runs into town. God bless him... good begets good. We waited for a long while but it was a good chat. (photo of me, Jacob and the 2 Norwegian ladies)

  • 9:15pm : 6 hours later than planned, I am sure glad I got to motel, safely in one piece. Anxiously, I called up Vanessa and told her the story.

  • 27 June- 7.25am: I just completed this entry....and was looking forward to tell my son Joshua over Skye the adventure.... til then, I am heading later for the rafting experience down Colorado River- if class 5 was the worst, maybe class 4 would be just nice for me. Sure look forward to a SAFE experience across the Shoshone Rapids and Glenwood Canyon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life

I was thinking about what my friend shared with me about how I need to start planning for my future- how I need to plan for my children's university fees which would increase annually by 6% and how it is my responsiblity to provide for my family's needs. However, I realised that much of it though in a practical sense is true, God's provision will always come in a way that we cannot fathom.

By Paul Bradshaw
May 9 2008

Short Interview with Rick Warren, (PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE) You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having 'wealth' from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren, 'Purpose Driven Life' author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California.

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act-the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, 'which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major
purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.

That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Food Glorious Food...

Reported in Straits Times (May19,2008) 'People are making more money and are eager to try other tasty food,' said associate professor Chai Weizhong, who studies public nutrition at Peking University. How true indeed! Adding to the better choice of food, I think people are spending increasing amount of time deliberating on food- what to eat, where to eat, how to eat and even when to eat.

I am saying this because I am putting myself through a 3 days detox program. Started yesterday, it was such a pain that I ended up feeling so weak, all over. It doesn't help pumping in 12 tasteless capsules of 'donno-what' in the morning and evening- suppose to sustain the energy to continue in the daily affairs. What makes it worst was when my family was dining in the food court of Great World City. Joshua's left over egg prata, pasta and Vanessa's pepper hot plate were far too tantalising to my senses. I confess, I did give in. The sips of Joshua's creamy mushroom soup had never so delicious in my lifetime. I could taste the richness of the soup, the succulence of the sliced mushroom and the aroma that simply filled the buccal and nasal cavity. So sinful.

Now that Van just finished her morning prata and I am half suspecting she slipped out on pretence to buy groceries, but in my wildest imagination to buy more snacks, chendol, kwa chap, etc. While I am musing over my self-imposed hunger strike, this need go on til tomorrow. She affirmed that I am doing well, knowing how easily I give into temptation, this was a real challenge. Just as bad as the Subaru challenge.

One thing is for sure, I realised that we spend many waking hours thinking, eating, shopping and even planning for food. Now that I am on total abstinence, it suddenly felt a sense of 'lost'.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Attitude part 2

After posting my thoughts on the previous workshop, I guess God wanted me to teach me another lesson on tenacity.

Yesterday, I helped out with yet another school with the training. On the way down to the school, I was told that the last session only had 2 non-English speaking teachers attending the session. It made me wonder, what are some HODs doing- was it to create training sessions so that they could clock it for their own KPIs? I was told that the HOD would get the whole of his mother tongue department down this time round since 'facilitation is key' to their program. The first teacher arrived into the training room, and immediately declared to the HOD that she needs to go and see a doctor. Some encouragement indeed. However, after realising that not many teachers arrived, she decided to stay on. Subsequently a few more came along, including the old guards from the last session. We were then informed later that the malay teachers weren't able to make it last minute, and that left us with 6 very dedicated chinese teachers.

After initial check-up with them, we decided we will do something that was totally unprepared and never done before- thats right, to conduct the workshop for the very first time in chinese. The teachers were more engaged, I supposed since Mr Mar-ting and Mr Yue Han (John in chinese) were both comically and oddly entertaining with our direct translation from the powerpoint. During the tea break, I was reliefed to hear that the teachers enjoyed the session, especially since they could not really follow the last one that was conducted in chinese. Moral of story- right attitude to listen and to adapt.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Attitude - its all that made a difference...

The ultimate human freedom is the

ability to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.

Vikt Frankl

Its so easy to succumb to the negativity of situations and circumstances. I was pretty upset with how things were moving at times with working with teachers. It could be frustrating to draw out the "let loose" and work it through components of ideation and allowing room for people to fail-safe to experiment. After couple of weeks of partnering with the school below, I gained little encouragement from how things were moving.

The morning before the talk, the coordinator called to inform that perhaps taking small steps would be safer since its the first time they are testing the new pedagogy. It was even more disappointing to hear that teachers may not be most excited with the idea of training in the middle of their marking of mid year exams. Yet, it was a directive from management to carry on with the training. That was a huge blow considering the amount of consultation and discussion- but the customers always right. As I was driving, I prayed that I continue to provide my input as professionally as I can and to put their needs in the centre. I think the spirit led and changed my attitude as I saw that the teachers, though tired were open to learning and that inspired me to be honest with how they would like the session to be beneficial.

In the end, it was not the materials that mattered. It was the connection with like-minded educators that allowed the fruitful discussion. Isn't this the same when we are in classrooms as a teacher- to be MINDFUL of the students' state of mind of learning? Thats one of the core values as a facilitator. The letter below is a testimony that being professional also means that we need to be true to what we can truly offer.

Dear Simon,
I would like to put on record my sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr John Yeo for the successful workshop conducted for my teachers on Thurs 8 May.

Through the workshop, he has inspired my teachers to become more effective facilitators of project work which we are embarking on next week. In particular, his ideas on PBL and use of questions to provoke deep thinking amongst pupils were refreshing and have equipped my teachers with new ways to challenge our pupils' thinking. He was well-prepared for the workshop and able to engage the teachers effectively.

His advice for our unit plan on ways to make the tasks and questions more authentic for the pupils have also helped to enhance our unit design. His commitment and generosity in sharing and working with my PW coordinator is commendable and worthy of mention.

On behalf of my staff, I would like to thank Mr Yeo and CPDD for the assistance endered. I look forward to working in consultation with CPDD officers again in the near future in our TLLM journey.

Best regards,
Principal, XXXX School

Monday, May 05, 2008


禱告 I Pray
讚美之泉 Stream of Praise










This song spoke to me twice this week. First time was on Sunday, when I was repenting on how I have fallen short of God's grace for me. Second time, as I watched the youtube and was so touched by the video- of how the boy and girl missed their father when he left the home. I recall how I used to hold back my tears each time I call home to listen to my 2 year old Joshua for 2 weeks then. THis time round, its double the whammy with both Joshua and Joanna and away for 2 months.

I guess, its His way of teaching me on reliance not by my strength and might, but by His grace.

E= mc2: Emotions of Mathematical & Cognitive Challenge

Was pretty frustrated with getting Joshua to learn how to count. Trying not to express in a negative manner, I tried to design games to help him understand simple additions. What went wrong? Why did he kept adding 5+1= 4?

In my desperate search for enlightenment, I recalled: Alan J. Rowe's book on Creative Intelligence- Discovering the Innovative Potential in Ourselves and Others

I was humbled by the apparent disconnect of what I always knew of my own son (his strong reasoning skills and creative nature) and what I believe is important as an educator (that every child is creative and intelligent in different ways).

Rowe clearly wrote that as educators, we rarely consider how everyone has different Creative Intelligence that affects how we view various subjects in school. A review of Winston Churchill’s life showed that he was largely self-taught because he had no interest in certain subjects. It is also frightening perhaps to acknowledge the inherent problem- that teachers focus on the students’ ability to do well in class rather than on other abilities. Rowe pointed that we can improve education, but we need new ways of “explaining” subject matter so that it is understandable by all. (p12)

David Perkins (Harvard University) co-director of Project Zero, studied the cognitive skills of artists and scientists. He believes that personality and personal values have a significant role in determining an individual’s creativity potential. A timely reminder of how much Joshua has inherited the "poor in maths" genes from daddy. Sigh.

I was even more struck when I realise that even though I have been conceptualising a research on profiling and differentiated instructions. I am keen to study how the application of Emergenetics (a profiling tool on thinking and behavioural attributes) on teachers and students could translate to better differentiated instructions in different classrooms. Yet, I was not able to even testbed the idea with Joshua. (Picture from

Now that I re-connect, I wonder, what could I do to help Joshua enjoy learning Maths? Perhaps, the more correct perspective should be 'how can I re-teach myself the concepts or principles behind maths.'

Ann M. Galligan, Northeastern University

“Kids catch fire differently.” They learn at different rates, and often learn best through different means. The challenge for educators and policymakers is to find ways to engage each and every student with
appropriate avenues and opportunities to grow, as well as to monitor and measure their successes. While there is no question that numeracy and literacy are skills schools should develop, these in no way exhaust
the means through which humans reason, nor do they exhaust the means through which humans make sense of the world.

To close, even in US, the stir on brain based learning is even highlighted as a religious issue. The following is an excerpt from Reverend Jeremiah Wright address in his NACCP address:

"Dr. Hale showed us that in comparing African-American children and European-American children in the field of education, we were comparing apples and rocks."

And in so doing, we kept coming up with meaningless labels like EMH, educable mentally handicapped, TMH, trainable mentally handicapped, ADD, attention deficit disorder."

And we were coming up with more meaningless solutions like reading, writing and Ritalin. Dr. Hale's research led her to stop comparing African-American children with European-American children and she started comparing the pedagogical methodologies of African-American children to African children and European-American children to European children. And bingo, she discovered that the two different worlds have two different ways of learning. European and European-American children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the United States of America. Back in the early '70s, when Dr. Hale did her research was based on left brained cognitive object oriented learning style.

Let me help you with fifty cent words."Left brain is logical and analytical. Object oriented means the student learns from an object. From the solitude of the cradle with objects being hung over his or her head to help them determine colors and shape to the solitude in a carol in a PhD program stuffed off somewhere in a corner in absolute quietness to absorb from the object. From a block to a book, an object. That is one way of learning, but it is only one way of learning."African and African-American children have a different way of learning."

They are right brained, subject oriented in their learning style. Right brain that means creative and intuitive. Subject oriented means they learn from a subject, not an object. They learn from a person. Some of you are old enough, I see your hair color, to remember when the NAACP won that tremendous desegregation case back in 1954 and when the schools were desegregated. They were never integrated. When they were desegregated in Philadelphia, several of the white teachers in my school freaked out. Why? Because black kids wouldn't stay in their place. Over there behind the desk, black kids climbed up all on them.

"Because they learn from a subject, not from an object. Tell me a story. They have a different way of learning. Those same children who have difficulty reading from an object and who are labeled EMH, DMH and ADD. Those children can say every word from every song on every hip hop radio station half of who's words the average adult here tonight cannot understand. Why? Because they come from a right-brained creative oral culture like the (greos) in Africa who can go for two or three days as oral repositories of a people's history and like the oral tradition which passed down the first five book in our Jewish bible, our Christian Bible, our Hebrew bible long before there was a written Hebrew script or alphabet. And repeat incredulously long passages like Psalm 119 using mnemonic devices using eight line stanzas. Each stanza starting with a different letter of the alphabet. That is a different way of learning. It's not deficient, it is just different. Somebody say different. I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing how we see other people who are different."

Bravo, Reverend Wright. Bravo, Mike Huckabee.
As to Joshua, dad promises to be more patient and creative to bring the joy of learning in all we do together!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

With each passing week

My heart gets heavier and heavier. Counting down to my 2 months away from home. Though its good to be studying back in Buffalo, I know my heart was so torn 2 years back when I was there alone. THen I decided the family will come along. However, the difficulty of bringing both Josha and Joanna onto the plane single hnadedly for 20 odd hours is no simple feat for Vanessa. Doesn't help that I am aiming to complete rest of the modules over 2 months. Aryna offered to "adopt" me in her home in Florida during the break.... but how can I enjoy the disneyworld and all the theme parks I longed for since young, alone?

How heavy is my heart....

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

48th Coy Boys Brigade

Today, as I am thinking about my role and contribution in CPDD, received an email for Kok Keong, a fellow BB officer who attached a document for an ex-student's application to be a primer. What Jame's wrote really nailed my heart as an educator.

3. Relate any significant experience or Officers that you had with the BB that has touched you the most or taught you something valuable you will never forget.

James wrote, "Although the BB has been memorable to me, there is one person that remains etched in my mind. Mr John Yeo had been my officer, and later Biology teacher in my four years as a boy. Even though he has left to “spread his wings”, I am sure that no boy under his charge will ever forget him. As corny as his jokes may be, he was always fun to be around. He was like a mentor to us in his Lifeskills Workshop, and never ran out of faith in God. His faith fuelled him and guided him to continue inspiring us, always the role model, ever the leader. He is a part of BB that I cannot forget, nor will I ever try to."

Made me wonder, have I been flying without wings here?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

LOST....about my future? In God I trust.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Ps 119:105

YOu are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Ps 119: 114

One Space, many paths

I woke up at 3am today. No, I am no longer jet-lagged, but cringing in fear of what is it in my future. I pondered: One space- one person, one soul, one family; Many paths- two kids, several options, many aspirations.

One God.

Dear God, as I sit staring at the screen, wondering if by chance of a divine intervention, I could see clearly a sign that indicates my future for next year. This evening Chitra asked if I would consider staying on to helm Pri/Sec PW. The possibility of having the space to "fill the gaps" for PW Pri/Sec just suddenly clicked. I know after what I have done for the mime, that I needed this "space" for me to innovate. Wasn't this why I stayed on in the system- to put PW in its rightful space in the curriculum? Yet what is holding me back? OPtions and opportunities are aplenty. DCPD suggested SST, yet the "outside world" is increasingly becoming a stronger lure (though the PB in MOE is also a factor that I really ought not to forget). Wondering aloud, what in the past year have I not gained the job satisfaction I so desire? Was it simply just the constraints of the PreU PW, the ambiguous nature of PW in Sec/Pri schools, or too much an open playing field that no one is really playing a proper game on the field? Or could it be that I was happily 'distracted' with the work IDM taskforce, or business development team of DE, or SWAT, or Innolab, or even TLLM ignite?

Two weeks back, exactly this hour- Wed 8pm in Copenhagen, you led DCPD to clearly identify for me over dinner that my heart is still that of an educator. I know that this was not of coincidence, but the works of your hands. TO hear from a woman that I have so much respect means a great deal to me. At least, I was clear that in education, this is where I am "truly free"- sincerely passionate, and highly innovative. My HQ stint has allowed me to appreciate the system- that more could be done to increase the competencies and capacities of teachers, to strengthen the "thinning" of school leaders especially on curriculum instructions, to add colour and diversity to the education landscape.

Yet God, you know the dilemma that I am struggling within. That I would like to have more focussed time to spend with the two kids. I want to nurture my own kids to be individuals who are well grounded in values, having the space to be creative and adventurous, to experience the beauty of this world beyond the confinements of a 5room HDB flat or a early childhood education trapped within 4 walls. I wish I have the ability (and support) to bring the kids to travel around. To see what is truly nature, to hear what the grass says, to talk to people of different skin colours, to have to learn what it means to be really poor.

Show me the way Lord.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Dream School- realised in Bangkok!

In Copenhagen, after the visit to Hellerup Skole (check out my other blog- I shared with DCPD the concept of my dream school-
1) Parents need be part of nurturing process in tandem with the school and the teachers collaboration
2) Students are assigned to projects based on their interest- whereby talents and skills are also evaluated on the same level of academic excellence
3) Students are able to chart their own learning progress, identify the skills, are able to reflect and evaluate own learning and style.
4) Different ways of learning- from books, to internet, to fieldtrips, to self-initiated projects, to service learning- pervasively across all subjects in the curriculum everyday.
5) Teachers to co-create the curriculum with students and community.
6) Teachers as mentors, facilitators and coaches.
7) Leadership starting from self, driven by choice, capacity, curiosity

The Funny (scary) thing is, the exact details I listed all appeared in the school below: Foreign Media Coverage on Education Issues (15 Mar 2008 - 20 Mar 2008)

A school for multiple intelligences; Vanessa Race discusses why it is important for a curriculum to address the many talents and areas of
intelligence of young students
(Nuttaa Mahattana, Bangkok Post [TH], 18/3)

According to Vanessa Race, the school's first student and now its
academic consultant, the Vanessa School's curriculum is created with
the vision that future generations of its students should be able to
find their place anywhere in the world while showing compassion for
others and enjoying innate happiness.

The school was founded 23 years ago by Vanessa's mother who wanted to
create a unique learning environment for her daughter, which consists
of: An environment where children are free to ask questions; a place
where adults and children learn together in a friendly atmosphere; and
a place where freedom and versatility create a happy learning
experience. Two decades later, the objective of the school remains

With the master's degree in Mind, Brain and Education from Harvard
University, and being the only Thai student advisee of Dr Howard
Gardner - founder of the Multiple Intelligences Theory - Vanessa
returned to Thailand to share her knowledge and experience with
students in her school and to maximize their individual potential.

Why MI?

The theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) answered a lot of questions
in my mind, says Vanessa. I used to wonder why my friend is better
than me in ballet, and why I'm better than her in academics. Why do
people label students who are good in academics as "competent", but
usually ignore many others who might be good at music, sports, and so

The Multiple Intelligences theory sensibly explains what already
exists in human nature. While IQ exams measure only a person's
mathematical, logical and linguistic intelligence, MI evaluates all
aspects of human intelligences. Everything we can be and become is
taken into account. It provides a place for everyone with special
skills and talents.

According to Dr Gardner, the MI theory includes Linguistic
Intelligence, Mathematical-Logical Intelligence, Spatial Intelligence,
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, Musical intelligence, Intrapersonal
Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, and Naturalist Intelligence.
It is believed that, given the right environment, the human brain can
develop each of these intelligences to its maximum potential.

Begin with the end in mind

Asked how to bring the theory into practice, Vanessa says she designed
her school's curriculum with the end in mind. Although Vanessa School
includes kindergarten through the primary levels (Prathom 6), she does
not think her job ends there.

When designing the MI curriculum for my school I imagine the farthest
my students could go on their academic path. That could lead to
becoming a student at Harvard or becoming the prime minister of
Thailand. Then I think about what skills it takes to get there. You
need to be able to work under tremendous stress; to work within a team
and share information; to maintain your work-life balance; to have
leadership skills and at the same time to be humble and respectful of
others. All these elements plus a few other theories comprise the
curriculum at Vanessa School.

Theory into practice The school is located in the Rangsit area where
students learn through a variety of activities. They develop their
Naturalist intelligence through activities like the Nature Walk.
Kindergarten students are thrilled to see that things change in the
garden of their school every morning. They learn to love their natural
environment and at the same time learn basic science through what they
see and touch.

Music and physical activities are also applied to maximize brain
potential. Brain Gym, for example, is the physical exercise in which
two sides of the body move through the center of the body. This helps
both sides of our brain to work well together, Kru Oh, a kindergarten
teacher, explains after the school's morning class, which is filled
with dancing, singing, and a stage play that teaches the youngsters
basic discipline.

The Messy Activity is one of the most popular among the students. The
outdoor challege is divided into a few stations. Students use sand,
water tubs with balls, food, water colors, painting and cooking

Students play with the equipment in whatever manner they wish. Through
this fun and quite messy activity, children learn to develop their
bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, and interpersonal intelligences through
sharing and playing together.

For older students, Mind Map and Project Teamwork are introduced.
Through various assignments guided by students' interests, they learn
to understand each other, apply creative thinking, share ideas, and
practice linguistic intelligence through project presentations.

The most important skill is Intrapersonal Intelligence or the ability
to understand oneself, says Sutamas Autchin, a Thai language teacher
in Primary level.

In the room is a big mirror for students to observe their reflection,
draw a self-portrait and talk about what they think is superior and
inferior in themselves. This helps them think and understand
themselves better, which enables them to excel in what they are good
at and to work on areas that need improvement.

Right environment

The school, teachers and parents work together to nurture the child.
Vanessa believes that parents should not forfeit the power to impact
their children's education at school. The child's school and home
should empower and support each other in educating the child.

We start at the selection process, she explained. I believe that there
is no best school for every child, only the school that best suits
your family. If you are an authoritarian parent, you may not be happy
with a school that uses the democratic approach with your child, and
vice versa.

It takes the right combination of teachers, staff and students to make
an MI program work best for the students.

After the school selects students based on the parent's questionnaire
and interview, the parents' role continues. At home, we ask parents to
create the right learning environment for their children. This
includes the student's food that their parents provide. The school
advises parents on what kind of food is good for the brain - brown
rice, for example.

As in the school, at home brown rice is served; and white sugar and
soft drinks are banned. Parents should talk politely with the child
and at the child's eye-level. The idea is to make the child feel that
she or he is a person, too, and is worthy of attention and respect,
just as an adult. All parents are encouraged to read bedtime
storybooks to their kids and to take them out on weekends to broaden
their horizon.

We discourage parents from buying expensive toys because the best
"toy" children can ever have is their parents. Vanessa School teaches
parents that either the father or mother - preferably both - must
spend quality time with the child every evening.

It is interesting to note that video games - which many fathers love!
- are banned from the home by the school. According to Vanessa, video
games stimulate the same part of the brain as heroin. Accordingly,
says Vanessa, no parent should ever want their child to be glued to a
video game for many hours.

Parents in the school

Parents also play an important role within the school structure and
influence the direction of the curriculum.

A parent who is a business owner once complained to Vanessa that, "My
employees earned bachelor's degree, but they can't think at all. They
cannot even do what they are told!"

From this parent's comment, Vanessa organized a brainstorming session
to find out what skills parents expect their children to have.
Qualities befitting a CEO were added to the list.

Parents want their children to have good skills in leadership; active
listening and team work skills; creative thinking, analytical
reasoning; and reading, writing and public speaking skills, among

With this vision in mind, the school transformed the way students are
evaluated during their final examination.

A theme will be given to all primary level students. They will then
have to work together in a project to visualize and later to realize
the theme. At the end of the project, parents are invited to the event
and give scores to the students.

Students' scores are based on how well they utilize multiple
intelligences in their projects.

This year, the theme is "Thanks to Life and the Environment". Students
decided they want to organize a fun-fair event called "Tales in the
Garden" and have invited teachers and parents to share a good time as
a way of saying thanks and to show respect to the surrounding
environment. Students from Prathom 1 to 6 work together as a team
applying their individual skills to organize the event.

In real life, Vanessa says, there will not always be a boss to tell
you what to do or where to go. Students must learn to think, evaluate
and get things done on their own.

As promoters of the Multiple Intelligences concept, Vanessa continued,
our duty is to create an environment that enables a child to achieve
whatever they want and to be whatever they want in the future;
function well under stress and be a happy person.

Nuttaa Mahattana has a bachelor of arts degree from Chulalongkorn
University and presently works as an assistant director of
communications and customer service at the British Council.

My resident photographer/s

Joshua can really be a very creative photographer. He really takes quite amazing amazing photos. These 2 are some his best work-
a) photo taken using my new phone (last yr) when he was only 3yr old
b) photo taken this Feb when his favorite uncle Daniel was snapping our pictures

O yes, talking about Daniel, he is finally getting married on Feb 28, 09.
And I have agreed to be his bestman (yes, finally can sabo him liao) and Joshua to be his page boy....

Friday, March 21, 2008

A silly me...

Every trip sure has some interesting stories to tell. Well, I was amazed by the "flow" of the creation of the new blog that since I was jetlagged (or was I not??) I started creating this blog to journal the inspirations and thoughts from day 1 of the trip. However, I spent so many night hours to wake up to call Vanessa and the kids (but mostly in vain) and thereafter to blog every night for 3-4 hours. However, IT finally came. On Thursday morning, I went to bed finally at 5am and set the alarm for 7.30am. Alas, phone rang twice and finally I picked up, and realised it was 8.20am. Bus was set to depart at 8.15am.

I jumped out of bed still in my boxers, wore my shoes and jus popped in a mint to rid the morning "freshness". One hand grabbing the shirt, pants, jacket, Throwing in socks in bag, I decided to use my other hand to pluck a pud of hair gel. I really thought I could do it. Rushed out of the door, I heard a voice in a distance... worried, I decided to pull up my pants. BUT, realised then that my shoes got stuck in the pants and I was on the ground... rolling. NOt wanting to dump the gel on hand, I struggled and tried to kick out the shoes. Such a joke.It was comical that all of my belongings were all over, wanting to shout out for help, but yet super embarassed. Stupidly, I decided to just smear that pud of gel on my hair and free my other hand to help. I was almost in tears then....


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Singapore brings Sunshine to Copenhagen

Check out my new blog on Immersive Creativity and how Innovation is rocking the world of New Design and Education in Denmark....brand new blog with daily entries started just becos the air here is so inspiring.

In this entry, allow me to tantalise your taste buds with the goooooood food we had (but trust me, things don't come cheap ;)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Life Purpose and Future Directions

Last night, it was odd that Edmund made us do our incomplete "homework" together to answer the question using Matthew 6:19-34; and 22:34-40. It was timely as we just had round of sharing on our future directions.

AS I struggled to ponder upon what should I do next yr, I was reminded that I need to "seek ye first HIs kingdom". I am wedged between two realms, unable to find a comfortable equilibrium and conscious of the struggles of wanting to be a better dad. Whether be it to apply for the Science and Tech school OR to take one to two year to spend more time with the kids as I seek for opportunities to deepen my practise, either as a consultant with psychometric profiling or to work with institutions on Project Based Learning or the Creative Problem Solving Thinking Skills model- of which I am very very keen to facilitate action research.

Choice A)
My experience with some of the earlier future schools gave me some deep personal insights. That many of the schools that were initially selected were based on their existing programmes. I was disappointed that some of these school leaders lacked the vision of what to them is a future school. It was even more painful to have them describe how they thought technology would change their schools, without much thoughts on how their new curriculum would distinguish them from the rest. In fact, with my work as curriculum partner supporting schools on the TLLM ignite PBL cluster, I am increasingly clearer that it would be quite a arduous journey for schools to truly rise to the awakening of what it means for engaged learning to take place. One of the saddest questions I hear principals ask is "Would we be able to measure the effectiveness of the programme by comparing these classes results with the rest?" In my heart, I wish most honestly to ask them- "Would you rather your students enjoy the process of learning and thereby change the way they would learn in the future OR would you rather gain immediate gratification by seeing a 10% increase in test scores and then get more classes to use PBL just because it works?"

At times, it even irks me to hear of so-and-so boasting of how they have transformed their schools with their knowledge of curriculum design. My sense is that the heart of true curriculum innovation would require the school leader or the teacher to boldly create a learning experience that is not just solely based on single pedagogical approach but to customise the experience to reap the best means to help the child enjoy learning. Yes, I am unashamed to say that it is my deepest desire to run a school of my own- somewhat independently- so that I could work work with a selected group of teachers- of diverse interest, passions, personality and learning style types- with just a common goal to change the way learning works. Its a school of fun-where kids chart their own learning, have the autonomy to plan for how they want lessons to take place (who says UbD is good only for teachers??), teachers to be well skilled as faciltators so that deeper discussion and debates could take place on a daily basis. Who says Project Work needs be a subject in silos? It was somewhat funny to answer a call few days back when a teacher called to ask "Should PW have a grade for in the report book?" I am just wondering if this teacher lives in age of isolation- in this day and age, i wish teachers are great networkers- to tap on the communities of eager folks willing to share ideas and knowledge on the web or jut be linking up and talking. One of the deepest questions I wish to raise to the C2015 taskforce is "would we dare to challenge the notion that Structures ie. exams Drives Behaviour?" The heart of matter is it takes more then just knowledge to make transformations. Michael Fullen inspired me to believe that purposeful and courageous leadership is the heart of change. I want to build a school where the behaviour changes structures. Wrong, behaviour puts new structures in place.

Ms Ho questioned about my point that the curriculum of 2015 may arrive to level where students are ready to co-create this learning experience iwth their teachers. I believe it is possible to a large extent. If the school leader is ready to foster the right learning culture in all teachers and students. It is only with lack of passion and knowledge that many are not ready to embrace the power of co-creation-where new meaning is synthesized- that to me is true learning. During one of the Innolab meetings, DGE once commented on my point that schools lack the courage to change the education system. She said "What stopping them?" Huh.. my personal take- lack of vision and courage. NOw that the education landscape is transforming- with strong senior leadership who dares make the difference- do I still choose to abandon that dream which I publicly declared back in 2002-on my wedding?

Choice B)
Torn on the far end of my inner world, God allowed me to come to realisation that I am not such a superman afterall. (yes, 2N1's A1 size poster of Super Yeo still stands tall) In December last year, I realised that much as I love my work so much and I love my family so much, which I do love more? Action speaks louder then words, I believe its near impossible to balance both. It was ironic that as the staff welfare champion last yr, on one hand, I encouraged colleagues to go home early to spend time on own or with family, yet on the other hand, I am the culprit that frequently works til 9pm. What is work life balance? Or could it be more of work life integration-of either bringing the work home to do? Recently a principal friend shared that many of her Pri 1 parents flustered to resign from their jobs just to be a better parent. She opined (much as I hate this word) by the time the child reaches P1, it may just be a tad too late. As an educator at heart, I knew the truth in this and it sure has disturbed me quite a bi, sufficiently enough to get me make some serious actions.

Next, Vanessa told me that I really ought to spend more time teaching Joshua since he listens to me more and enjoys the "classes" we do together. She made this comment last night- "Her life purpose is that to be a helper to people" So real. Little does she realise her pivotal role in helping her man make the many life changing decisions. How she "forced" me to resign from BMG- the first job I held, which could bring in as much as $8k with commisions- but to what cost-she asked, and how we prayed together for the Zoo Curator post which I spend some good 2yr that I truly loved, and her green light for me to take my Masters and her courage when we had to abort the second child. Last Sunday, I jokingly said that I ought to resign and be a better dad and explore taking up the couple of offers. I was shocked when she said "GO ahead". I guess she knew how my perspectives have changed, and she knows where my heart and my gifts are. This is the most practical woman I ever knew and yet, here she is ready to nudge me to take the big plunge. To resign or take 1 or 2 years no pay leave or .... heaven knows.

I am clear that unless I make parenting my primary focus and career or professional development my second (rather then the other way round) life will just go on til the day, I realised that I am but the absent dad.

Where should I go from here? I promised wabbit that I will stick til the end of the year. I have many unrealised hopes that I have in CPDD. For sure, i wanna see that the TLLM schools would do well in their research projects. And for sure, I wish to build my community of practice from the 200 or so teachers I trained in creativity tools and to get them onto the next phase of creativity tools in CPS. Anyway, I am so indebted to the great learning in CPDD I just want to give back.

Finally in response to Edmund's question, I wrote: 1) To entrust EVERYTHING to God- my family, my career, my passion, my life 2) To immerse in a life being a child of God Upped the game,I have, all right.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Having left the theatre with my performance in 'I Have a Date with Spring' since 2001, 'Family@doors' is the most challenging piece I have personally scripted and directed. Doors is a metaphor of the two doors in life- one that GOd receives us with His loving open arms and, the other-that man creates as an innermost thirst to feed his rebellious need to seek for freedom and power.

A modern day story of the prodigal son, presented as a Mime by a 20 strong cast from 6 to 55 years old, with a dose of abstract videos, be prepared to be blown away and torn apart by the harsh reality portrayed in this powerful mime.

Providence Presbyerian Church (Orchard Rd)

celebrates our 40th Church anniversary with this Gospel Rally during Good Friday.

21st and 22nd March (Fri and Sat). 7.30pm.

Contact me for more details

Monday, January 21, 2008

The gift to be a Father

The struggle of modern day fatherhood is so real. No matter how many great ideas I have to be a better father, the exhaustion of work itself simply drives home the need to just chill out upon stepping into the comforts of my lovely home.

Yet, the desire to spend quality time on the other hand is so real too.

Last night, I am glad I took Joshua down for a walk. Even if it was just a 5 min playing at the void deck, I felt it was time well spent.

Make believe game of spider man climbing up the wall, garang guni selling Joshua away, or having him on my tired back, ... sweet moments that I cherish.

Thank you Father for giving me the responsibilty to be a dad,,, its a challenge I need thy grace to help me live the moment

"Serious side of playing around - Experts lament young are being denied interaction" by Liz Gooch, South China Morning Post [Hong Kong 12/1]

They jumped, ran, slid, fought, squealed and screamed. In short, they played.

It was the classic scene of children doing what they've always loved to do when almost 1,000 of them descended on a sports field at Polytechnic University on Wednesday.

Child's play it may have been, but what these children were doing represented a crucial part of their development.

Experts have long recognised the importance of play in children's social, psychological and physical development. But in today's fast-paced world, concerns have emerged that children are missing out on childhood's greatest asset.

Researchers and practitioners at this week's 17th International Play Association World Conference at PolyU laid the blame on a number of factors - from the lack of open space in urban areas to the parental concern that keeps children tucked up inside, cocooned in a world where television and computers have become surrogate playmates.

The realisation that not all was well with today's children came to writer, broadcaster and consultant Sue Palmer as she encountered countless teachers who were concerned by disturbing changes in students' behaviour.

They told the former primary school teacher that children were becoming more easily distracted and impulsive, less empathetic and did not get along with each other as well as previous generations.
Addressing the conference in a pre-recorded speech (illness prevented her from leaving her home in Scotland), Ms Palmer said there had been an "explosion" in the number of children suffering from learning difficulties in the past three decades.

Ms Palmer, whose research is published in her book Toxic Childhood, said behavioural problems had doubled in the past 30 years among British children while emotional problems had increased by 70 per cent.
The increase was particularly evident in those diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and autism spectrum disorders. In the early 1980s, one in 50,000 children in the United States had such disorders, compared to one in 144 now, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics. Ms Palmer said it had been estimated that one in 58 British children suffered from these types of disorders.
"We've had 50 years of peace and prosperity ... Things should be getting better for our children, not worse. I think it shameful and we should be looking at why it's happening," she said.

While some of the rise in behaviour disorders can be put down to increased diagnosis, Ms Palmer believes there is more to it than that. Thanks to technological developments, the pace of life has increased dramatically since the days when kids spent their childhoods exploring the local neighbourhood.
With tasks that used to be laborious now replaced by the flick of a switch, Ms Palmer believes we have become impatient and are trying to transfer this hectic pace onto our children.

"Unfortunately there are some things that can't be rushed and one of them is human development," she said. "We really can't accelerate psychological growth but at the moment we're trying to." "We are trying to rush children forward through the first years of their life and I believe that's why we're getting these developmental problems."

Ms Palmer said there was a disturbing trend in countries like Britain and the US for children to start school at a younger age. "It's very much worrying developmental psychologists because children simply aren't ready to start learning in a formal way until they're about six or seven," she said.

The pre-primary years should be dedicated to learning through play rather than formal education, according to Jaap E. Doek, who was chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2001 until last year. Although the right to play was enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Professor Doek said countries rarely reported on this aspect of children's rights.
He said it was important not to lose sight of the child's right to play when early childhood education was introduced.

"As soon as you call it education or school it becomes something that is linked to targets, things you want to achieve through activities at preschool," he said. "The pre-primary school shouldn't be school. It's really an instrument to strengthen certain elements of the psychological and also physical development of the child, to engage them with other children." Parents are often keen to see their children begin formal learning at a young age, but Professor Doek said the aim of pre-primary education should not be to put them in a competitive position for primary school.

While education often focused on the individual, the emphasis in the pre-primary years should be on learning to interact with others. "If you do pre-primary well, children have learnt to engage in play together, to discover things together, to get into a fight, to negotiate over things," he said. "All of those things don't happen in an education system where the focus is on the individual."

Professor Doek said Hong Kong and other places with competitive education systems could consider allocating specific time for children to play. But it was important children were given freedom when playing.
"If the activity is enforced, it's not play anymore," he said.

In addition to teaching children how to interact with others, share and learn language, playing active games outside has also kept generations of children healthy. With children free to run around the neighbourhood there was no need for such things as "fat camps" and diets designed specifically for youngsters - until today's generation, which Ms Palmer described as the least physically active generation in the "history of the planet". She said Scottish researchers had found that two-year-olds were now as sedentary as office workers.
"This is against nature and it means they're not learning through movement, which is the most basic way you play," she said.

Ms Palmer said there were various reasons for children's inactivity - children were becoming afraid to play outside, parents had become frightened of letting them out and there was now an abundance of screen-based entertainment available indoors. She said while there were no more child abductions now than in previous eras, a culture had developed where "parents are not good parents if they let their children go out to play".
A survey conducted last year by the Good Childhood Inquiry in England had shown that the average age people thought it was safe for children to play outside on their own was 14.

Ms Palmer said "screens", as she referred to televisions and computers, had invaded family life. She cited 2005 figures from the National Literacy Trust that show 40 per cent of British children under the age of four have a television in their bedroom. There were also television channels specifically for babies, despite recommendations from paediatricians that children should not watch television before the age of two. She said children's DVDs, such as the Baby Einstein series, had evolved into a multimillion-dollar industry but claims that these programmes were educational were "nonsense".

"Damaging babies' brains is now big business," she said. "If they tune into screens rather than real life and people then it becomes their default activity and it's much more difficult to convince them that they do want to play and get outside.

"I think if we try to push our children into a screen-saturated world before their brains have developed in the natural way that brains have been expected to develop for millennia, we may be doing them a disservice."
Ms Palmer stressed that technology was a great resource if used wisely but said society had not recognised what media saturation could do.
"Our technological evolution has been profound and rapid ... but we've got to give our children time to develop first," she said.