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!