Our Part In Children’s Education

2 incidents over the weekend triggered me to write this post.

Incident 1

My kid has been taking swimming lesson for the last 2 months. Along with her, are a bunch of other kids with zero swimming ability. 2 months down the road, all the kids can swim, minimally across the breadth of the pool except 1 boy. Swimming instructor was trying to get the boy up to speed and was a little harsher. End of the lesson, boy’s dad got worked up. Dad was screaming at the kid and the kid was wailing non stop. Dad wanted the kid to go down to the pool and continuing practising, kid refused. Dad dragged him to the poolside and eventually picking the kid up and throwing him into the pool. Instructor had to come defuse the situation.

Incident 2

At my kid’s abacus class, there’s this boy that refused to do his homework. Teacher wanted him to stay back to complete the work and finish his corrections. He didn’t co-operate and he was downright rude to the teacher. Teacher complains to the maid, but maid could only smile and laugh. Teacher was visibily upset and angry. Asked if the kid did his work at home, maid said no and apparently parents didn’t push him too (if I didn’t understand wrongly). Kid wasn’t co-operative, maid not helpful, so teacher said she would call the parent. My guess is this is not the first call.

In both incidents, I wonder what the parents were thinking. In the swimming case, Dad was just interested in playing with his phone during lessons. And it has been so for the past 8 weeks. They would come when lessons start and leave when lessons end. No extra time and effort. Dad didn’t even touch water. All the other kids did extra with their parents before or after lessons, me included. The abacus case also looks like a one of non involvement from parents.

I’m trying to guess their mindset here. What do parents want to achieve when kids go for classes? Are they simply sending their kids because other people are doing so? Or they put the whole responsibilty on the teachers and instructors, simply because they are paying money for the lessons?

I felt quite upset for the teachers and instructors. In the swimming case, the instructor must have felt bad to see the boy being screamed at. And for the abacus teacher, I respect her for her commitment because she’s being anxious and worried for someone else’s kids other than her own. Both cases, it’s really not fair to them.

From the 2 incidents, it now looks like it’s the fault of the kids and the teachers for the kids’ poor performance.

As parents, we have to commit our own time and effort. We know that in order to master a skill, we need more than just spending 1 or 1.5 hours with the teachers. When we put in our effort, kids will also learn. They will understand that more effort is needed to master the skill and they are not going for lessons for the sake of just going through the motion.

Let’s see how things pan out this weekend for both the kids.


About Sharing On Social Media

I was taught something very interesting when I was 18. This is what you do. Read the headlines in the papers. Don’t read the content. Now try to make up your own story based on the headline and with whatever understanding you have on the subject. You discover that half the time, your story and the story on the papers don’t tally. Why?

Everyone of us is brought up differently in diverse culture, religion, family background etc. At different stages of life, we look at the things differently. We have our bias and stereotype. So, to pass a judgement based on a single headline is seriously inaccurate.

And this is what’s happening in social media these days. We see some interesting one-liner in Twitter or Facebook, we share without reading the article that follows. And even if we read, we still have our biases. We can still come out with very one-sided views and interpretations.

So what’s the issue here? When we share, first people don’t read and understand. People don’t think neutrally and worst of all, we don’t know what transpires in the mind of the people reading what we share! And this spiral out of control when people continue ‘sharing’, sometimes with their own (twisted?!) thoughts. There are numerous examples everyday that I see. Some we can just laugh about it, but how about those that involves politics, religion, race? The examples I see results in name calling, hatred and other undesirable behaviours over misunderstandings and misinformation!

Some might argue that what we read might also not be true. But it’s beats not looking at the other side of the story and start passing judgements.

My message is simple. Please share responsibly and rationally. Or better still, don’t share. Start by reading, understanding and think critically.


Random Thoughts On Human Brain, Computing and Social Media

This are some random thoughts. The power of the brain lies in the instant association and suggestions. What do I mean by association? I saw picture posted by a friend on Facebook. It’s a cup of coffee which, without the captions, resembles a pot of soil and a plant. Instantly my brain gave me a suggestion that it’s a new pot of plant by another friend who is a co-worker of the one who posted the picture. This association comes instantly without a single bit of effort.


We put this into the context of computing, I think it’s probably something that computers are not capable of entirely. This thought process that happened in that instant is the result of years of memories, subconscious association and retrieval of memories and the human consciousness. Computers are capable of the first 2. It’s Big Data and its Big Data Analytics.

So, who is capable of this now in the social media world? Facebook! Facebook probably has the collective memories of a big chunk of the human population and how we are linked to each other, our preferences, our habits etc. based on our tags, our comments, photo uploads and stuff. Think about it for instance, Facebook, with their facial recognition techniques can even ‘remember’ how you looked like 30 – 50 years ago. It’s persistent memory. And they don’t have probably with deteriorating short term memory like we do when we grow old. Wow! So the missing piece now is the human consciousness, i.e. the feelings, which decides what to suggest, associate and feedback.

This certainly gets very interesting as the giants polishes their techniques. Is the internet going to get so smart that it’s going to nag at me like my mum one day?! Hmm…

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