Education. Academics or beyond ?

Many nights I pondered if life is easier with the current study platforms and structures. I posted this question on my QOTW platform:

What are some subjects you hoped to be taught when you were younger/ subjects you feel that should be introduced to the mainstream?

The answers that came back was interesting.

1. A rider friend of mine suggested that road users should get a riding license first before getting a driving license. This helps the drivers understand a rider’s difficulties and dangers they face on the road better, hence cultivating a better and safer road culture. (You can see an article on the riding here )

2.A kiddo of mine actually came up with this :

I feel… Students should be taught or the school should prioritize love,self love i feel very much that student nowadays are very careless of how they put themselves out there and get hurt sometimes,they should also be taught to face challenges when provided,both in academic and in real life as not many would have the “dare to do” attitude and it rly disturbs me when they are not courageous. This is what i feel ah maybe there is flaw ah but UK we aint all perfect but i accept imperfection as it is 🙂

3. A friend of mine was pissed off by her schoolmates when she went on an university exchange programme. She was pissed off with their inefficiency in managing their room and personal hygiene. So she came up with the idea that ladies have to go through BMT to learn and be trained military-style to get their hygiene routine right.

I was having a conversation with one of my girls and ‘Academic Subjects’ came up. She looked at me and asked, “Why weren’t we taught dialects in school?” I returned her question with, “Why do you want to learn dialect when your Chinese isn’t good?” She said that dialects are a part of our cultural roots, and if its not examinable, she will probably enjoy and learn more.

Then it struck me, “Are exams that important or that keen interest in learning is more important? 😬😬😬 What should be incorporated into our learning culture to ensure an everlasting curiosity to have in our outlook in life?”

Education should be a platform for students to get ready in life beyond that of academics so that they become proactive in learning. This creates unique individuals who are initiated and driven to see beyond their self and become natural explorers to seek what interests them and the community. This brings about satisfaction from within and bring about creativity outwardly.

The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.

There are a few types of learners and how to best learn and be taught.

There are many A students who just study based on books and theories. They excel at academics but fail to learn life skills from their environment and others around them. Basically, it helps when we are keen learners in life and not just in our academics. Let us cultivate a proactive attitude in learning and be passionate students of life, that beyond of textbooks and theories. Learning does not stop when we leave school. On the contrary, the learning officially starts when the school of hard knocks commences at the very moment we stepped out of school.


Lets do the counting game. One rider, two rider, three rider …

So, I have always been interested in completing my riding lessons and to get a bike. It’s a childhood dream, that wooohooo when I saw Batman with his Batpod in the Dark Knight movie. That is a badass machine that will be so powerful.  But my mum was reluctant to let me go for my lessons.Image result for bat bike

I am usually concerned with the riding culture, and have discussed with my biker friends with regards to having safe riding experiences. The main concerns that they raised is that of tailgating from cars especially the capital B cars. The road culture in Singapore nowadays do have some problems in ensuring the riders safety. So today’s questions come in.

  1. Why is it so dangerous on the road.
  2.  What can we teach to prevent such adversities to the riders and ensure a safe and respectful road culture?

1. Why is it so dangerous on the road? 

The Chinese has a saying, it’s better to drive than ride. The metal envelops the homo sapiens in cars but in the case of riders, the homo sapiens protects the metal of the bike.

Lets look at the statistics, vehicles pie chart


Data taken from Statistics Singapore transport 2016

Therefore, the drivers are actually more at risk at having accidents. Then the question still persist, why is it unsafe to drive and ride on our roads?

I personally feel that there are 4 main issues here is,

  1. The hectic life of Singaporeans. That kiasu culture. Like seriously, everyone drives from point to point. Thanks to the hectic lifestyle of Singaporeans, many are either commuting back to work in the morning with a not so passionate feeling (monday blues especially), and back home / heading towards functions. We are always rushing from one location to another. This makes people less patient on the road. We had seen many of our own fathers and friends behind the wheel cursing and swearing on the road due to others drivers.
  2. On the contrary, the road culture is too ‘safe’. Let me elaborate a little further. Put yourself in this situation. If you have a child, lets call her Jennifer and to guide Jennifer, you tend to hold her hands, and pull her away from any obstacles. But your best friend’s child, lets call him Johnny. Your buddy doesnt bother to preempt Johnny, and just hold on the tiny hands of Johnny, worse still, he laughs at Johnny when Johnny do not know how to avoid banging into the wall. So, which child, Jennifer or Johnny will be more likely to be able to avoid a pillar when they are running in a playground? Definitely Johnny isnt it? Johnny had been on his own to look out for the dangers, and learnt the hard way. Singapore roads are too ‘safe’ (by safe i meant structured) , as compared to other countries, there are too many road regulations by LTA to ensure that there is road safety. This actually take away the drivers’ and riders’ instinct to look out for danger. It’s this numbing effect that we no longer pre-empt ourselves on the road. Lets compare the situation to our neighbouring country Malaysia. Although they do not have traffic / road conditions as well as Singapore, Malaysians are generally more conscious about the road, and other road users. I had so much relaxation and fun as a pillion in a road trip to Malacca and riding around the town, I actually tensed up when i crossed back to Singapore customs. It suddenly felt like it’s more dangerous on the road here. The drivers are less polite and more reckless, and did i mentioned tailgating? 
  3. Tailgating culture. This. Is. Why. It. Is. Dangerous. Here. As an observer of the road, as i neither drive or ride, I can still sense when there are some ASS**** drivers that like to tailgate others, to either chok chok other road users for a race / challenge, or to ‘destress’ by venting it on the road. This is actually one of the main few fuels that causes alot of stress on both drivers due to bad temper management and bad road usage as both parties may be too focused on the race. This usually end up having repercussion on other uninvolved road users, as the involved parties weave in and out of lanes.
  4. My ah gong road. Some users are just so arghhhh. They think that it is their ah gong road by going too slow a pace in the highway or just randomly stop or change lane without any signals. A buddy of mine actually got into an accident due to that ‘grandma’ who was driving a van going too slow and halted to a stop on the highway and left a huge gap between the vehicle in front of her and hers. The accident is totally avoidable if she did not hog the lane with her speed.

What can we teach our kids to prevent such adversities to the riders and ensure a safe and respectful road culture?

It’s simple. It starts from young. There is this article written by a parent that shared how they cultivate good road safety culture, especially for the riders. On the road, both the dad and the children, will have a game. To count the number of riders on the road. He realised that, through this game, the more bikes his kids count the more they are likely to watch out for the riders. He himself actually started to look out for the riders too when they are enjoying the different stylish bikes that they had seen on the road. The purpose having this game is just to make it a conscious effort to highlight the more vulnerable road users on the road so that when the kids are old enough, they will be spotting the riders subconsciously. Talk about habits. (WINK you know what i mean 😉 ) Simple as it is.

The above is one method. Other methods are more of cultivating good manners and good temper managements which eventually will go to being a good road user. Dont you agree?

Play Hard first, work harder later.


Work Hard Play Hard Quote Working Smart Quotes Quotesgram

Recently, I keep having flashbacks of the good old student days of mine, now that my students are having exams. The other day, a student of mine was caught in a dilemma. Her exams are coming up in just 20 + days, and yet there is F1 happening and one of the performing artist is her idol. Being a fan, she popped me the question, “Cher, how sia? I want to go but yet my exams are around the corner. Should I go for it or should I make the best out of my time studying and not going?”

With a big smile on my face, I responded, “Just go man. Go take a break, and enjoy the time with your friends. Its an event to look forward to. Take it as a break to propel yourself more, PLAY HARD THEN WORK HARD.”

Reason being: its a paradox. Staying at home to study and not attending the event, one may feel tired and not motivated. Let’s just be honest. How many times have our head ruled over our hearts? Everybody says that you should work before play. However, how often is this effective? Looking back at my younger days, I am a PLAY HARD, then WORK HARDER kind of student, and now a PLAY HARD, then WORK HARDER kind of worker. I will always waste a lot of my time playing games, procrastinate, laze around, hang out with mates and ultimately end up being behind schedule. Eventually, after playing to my hearts’ content, I will feel guilty about not doing any work, resulting in high efficiency, productive level which in turn helps me get my work done within the deadline.

Many have talked about striking a balance between work and play. This results in a way that it seems like a 50-50 split. Let’s take a step back and think. When we work hard then we play, we will have a guilt free experience when we are playing. What if its the other way round? We play so hard, and procrastinate so badly that the guilt and time constraints kick in forcing us to get work done. At this point, you will need to spend double the effort in order to catch up. The concept is to let yourself enjoy your leisure time and use the ‘guilt’ that comes after to become a motivation instead of an inhibition. Isn’t it brilliant?

Going one level deeper, we usually just enjoy playing and being in the moment. That moment is filled with laughter, fulfilment, ‘high’ which puts us in a totally ‘stress-free’ zone. Just that half a day activity can help us free our minds temporarily, and let it have a short rest from the routine work / rushing of work schedule / preparation of exams which tend to be draining and frustrating. Having a refreshed mind allows us to have higher productivity level. This works just like our metabolism rate. With short rests in between the reps, the intensity can be heightened. The same ideology can be applied to work productivity levels too.

So let us all take a good play and play it really well, play so hard that we don’t think about work. Let us play so badly and guilt ourselves so much that we just end up working harder and be much more productive since completing work within the time constraint will be the only focus on our minds.

Image result for play hard work hard quotes

Disclaimer : Everyone’s work productive cycle is different. There are people that work best under a routine schedule, with consistent effort. There are others like me that prefer working at high volume and then have a really good rest after before the next cycle starts. The key here is to explore the different methods and find what suits you the best.


CHER V. Vivian

images :

5 years NA is a 5 years O level course

This is a cry for help to reach out to the students that are having the upcoming NA exams. Cher V just want to say that if you want it bad enough, go for it, and show it to yourself and others that you can make it there and be the same as those that had taken the express stream. That you are more than the struggles. To keep going and give yourself the push and the courage to excel.

I am blessed to have met a big bunch of NA kids when i started out as a full time tutor in 2014 and now they will soon be graduating from Sec 4 NA. Coming from various schools, I have heard similar cries. ‘ Cher i don’t want to go sec 5, i want to go PFP (or even ITE- for the weaker ones), cause I just don’t want to stay in school for another academic year.’

Unknowingly, many of them that come under my classes, are almost all NA students. I have seen them disappointed when they cannot do questions from the Express stream (I teach Maths and Physics). I have seen them feel defeated as they think that they are not adept enough to take on O levels next year. I even heard them say that many of their friends are giving up because the teachers in school look down on them. They have been labelled as those who will not be able to get to a good course in poly as they will fail their O’s even if they go up to Sec 5.

Why do students fail? Here are some of the factors that I wish to highlight out of the many that I have noticed:

  1.  Most of the time, teachers tend to focus on students who show interest or are more interested in studying. With a lot on their hands, they  do not have the extra time and effort to reach out to the weaker ones who are usually the trouble makers. With little attention paid to them, they tend to fall out of class or school.
  2. When teachers give up on the weaker students, they tend to demoralise them. The students will pick up on the vibe and in turn use that to blame the teachers for their failure. (Since people already determine that we cannot do it, then what for we try?)
  3. The students’ perceived learning capability. With the difference in learning speed and depth between NA and Express, the students tend to generalise themselves failing even before attempting.

There are many more factors but the underlying element is that the NA students have not been associated with the idea that 5 years of NA is actually a 5 year O Level course

After talking to some of my students, I realised that the concept of late bloomers and multiple intelligence is not widely known among students. They are often trapped in the misconception that they are not as intelligent as the early bloomers or have lesser capacity than them. Our education system does acknowledge the capability differences in students and hence have different streams to accommodate them. In other words, NA students are also as capable as the express students.

Image result for multiple intelligence

I know many successful friends, that were NA students. They grit their teeth and push on and are now scholars and university graduates. So who is to say that NA students will not excel as well as the majorities? NA students are as able as the Express students. Believe in yourself and keep going. Given time, anybody can do anything.