terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Ah, once again, I get to talk about my pet topic (or peeve, if you please).

A couple of articles from yesterday’s (28 May 2004) Straits Times:


THE principal of Nan Chiau High, Mr Ng Lee Huat, 53, is stepping down after admitting to hitting a student with a book. The Education Ministry (MOE) said yesterday that it had accepted his offer to step down as head of the secondary school in Sengkang, but some parents and students were upset by his departure. They called the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan which manages the school to ask if he could be reinstated.

Mr Ng, who had been in the teaching service since 1975, had hit the Secondary 2 girl on April 15.
A police report was later made by the god-sister of one of five students who had, together with the girl, been called up by Mr Ng. MOE did not disclose what the girl was disciplined for, but said: 'Hitting a student, no matter how testing the circumstances of disciplining the student, cannot be condoned. This is unacceptable action that is outside the guidelines governing corporal punishment in schools.' In this case, the upset parents alleged the girl had often defied school rules.

One parent, who gave his name only as Mr Tan, told The Straits Times: 'Why is it that students are given a second chance, but not principals?'

His daughter, who is also in Sec 2, said the girl, in her 1 1/2 years at the school, has been disciplined more than 20 times for truancy, being late for school and disruptive in class. Another parent, who did not want to be named, said Mr Ng had seen the school through some bad times, about five years ago, when it faced dwindling enrolment at its old site in Kim Yam Road. But since its move to Sengkang, enrolment has returned to 1,460 students. Under Mr Ng, the school also won the value-added award for two years, in 1999 and 2000.

The Today newspaper had also reported that Mr Ng's departure took the girl's mother by surprise. She said she had met Mr Ng over the incident and accepted his explanation and apology.


Thank you, MOE! That’s really sending a clear signal to the masses: teachers, even principals, are fair game. Kids are a misunderstood lot. They make noise in class, skip lessons, miss school, get into all kinds of trouble, but they’re really just misguided little people, aren’t they? And when little people like that defy school rules, throwing the book at her [literally] isn’t the way to do things. It might make have the negative effect of making her, I don’t know… WAKE UP, maybe?

Kay has said it already in her blog: the man probably stepped down more on principle (a good man, then -- more than what his achievements say about him -- in my book) than anything else. And that the idiot girl and the kay-poh godsister of another troublemaker are probably beside themselves with smugness.

From the sound of it, it seems to me that the mother was probably thankful to the principal for standing up to her bratty daughter (probably disciplined for the first time in her short, ugly, brutish life), but the girl decided to take matters into her own hands and consulted the godsister person to make a police report.

(‘Godsister’. Hmm, if they were in a Catholic school… but elsewhere, doesn’t something like this suggest gang ties?)

Not the first time I’ve seen something like this happen. Unfortunately.

MOE did not disclose what the girl was disciplined for, but said: 'Hitting a student, no matter how testing the circumstances of disciplining the student, cannot be condoned. This is unacceptable action that is outside the guidelines governing corporal punishment in schools.'


So who protects the teachers, and sometimes principals, from assault? Threats? Slander/ libel? Molest? Teenager-pique?

Also in yesterday’s Straits Times, the Forum Page:


I HAVE been doing relief teaching for the past few years and have asked myself countless times whether it is worth it.

I used to believe teaching is a meaningful job. I was wrong. My experiences have been discouraging and disappointing. My conversations with many trained and experienced teachers tell me that they feel the same way.

Children today have no respect for anybody. They talk non-stop and teachers have to shout to be heard. The top students don't bother to listen as they have had enough tuition to make sure they score, not that they are really smart. The bad ones look at their teachers as though they are nobody.

Many teachers carry personal loud-speakers because it is very hard to shout the whole day.
Should you try to discipline a pupil, the parents would file a complaint and you would be called into the principal's office.

When children do not perform well in their studies, it is the teacher's fault.

I heard recently that a student slapped a teacher. I was hoping to see it in the news but it wasn't.

I hope the Ministry of Education will take action to preserve the dignity of teachers. Only motivated and high-spirited teachers can contribute to the moral development of our children. Only morally correct children can build a better Singapore.


And an email from the Cousin:
wow, I would so want to be a student now – I can just challenge a teacher to dare beat me and even provoke them to actually beat me – they will lose their job!

then me – I will win.

I am reminded of a story an ex-colleague once told about how his friend, who was teaching in the UK, was walking along the school corridor (if I'm not remembering wrongly, it was the guy's first day in that school) when a student walks up to him and calls him a 'fucking wanker'. So, ex-colleague's friend grabs hold of the kid and drags him to the Headmaster's Office, where.... Ohoho! Teacher gets into trouble for laying a hand on the kid.

I fear that's the road Singapore teachers are on now.

Maybe this is the solution:


Maybe it has nothing to do with the trouble in the region. Maybe it’s all about the misguided little people. I wonder how that will work here?

“FOR THE FIFTH TIME, Mr Tan, sit down. You’re making too much noise. And the rest of the class wants to learn.”

“MR TAN! Sit. Down.”

“Stop talking to Mr Lim. Oh, what the f –“ [BLAM!]

“Oh shut up Mr Tan! Stop whining, it’s just a sucking chest wound.”

Hmm, three verbal warnings after a handful of chances, then the punitive action.

MOE guideline: Met.


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