Friday, July 28, 2006

Test Attitude

At the end of every semester, we have to provide a convincing answer to this standard question: Why are there so many failures? Would you really like to know the reaons? Well, everyday #$@&*^% classroom behaviours aside, this is how they behave during a class test! (read on...)

At 8am I arrived at the class, about half the class were already there, most were hanging outside of the classroom, talking, joking, fiddling with their phones, idling. One of them was sitting in the room in semi-darkness, flipping his newspaper. I went into the class and switched on the lights and air-conditioner. Those who were idling outside entered the class and found themselves seats. Books, files, bags, newspapers etc were strewn all over the empty tables around the students. I had to remind them several times that I do not want to see anything on the tables except stationery - and still, the newspapers were still there on the tables! I am beginning to hate the sight to newspapers in classrooms. When I finally managed to get them to keep their stuff off the tables, I distributed the question papers. Even then some were still turning left, right and back, and whispering around. I had to warn them to keep quiet (gosh as if they do not know they're supposed to shut the hell up during a TEST!)

Test began at 8.15am. At 8.20 a few more came strolling in, dumped their bags on the unoccupied tables, and came straight to me to take question papers. What - they expect me to hand them the questions whilst their books and notes are lying openly on the tables? Argh! There were still students arriving for the test all the way until about 8.30am. By then, most of them were in the class already - except for one. That one - never turned up at all.

During the test, there were questions posed by the students which I do not know if actually required an answer. One of the questions goes "Write one statement to ..." ("one statement" was actually printed in bold) and a guy asked me "Miss," pointing to the question, "This one means write one statement ar?" I answered "Yes", but the actual answer I really wanted him to have was a slap. Most of the rest were simply moping over or staring blankly at their papers. The test was a 100-minute one, but before the 60th minute was over, someone had given up, submitted his answers and left. Cool. About half an hour before the end of the test, a guy sitting in the last row got up abruptly and left the room. I didn't even have the time to stop him (he was sitting right next to the door). I went to his table and took a look at his answer sheets there, and it was quite apparent that he was not ready to submit them yet - so he probably just needed to go to the toilet. I waited for the guy to return - which he did, a couple of minutes later, and got to his seat oblivious to the fact that I was staring at him. I asked him where he went, and he said the toilet. I asked him if he felt that he needn't inform his lecturer first, and he didn't answer - just looked a little sheepish. At this point, another insolent idiot sitting just in front of the toilet-goer actually laughed out. It wasn't loud, but it was audible. And the toilet-goer gave a little laugh himself, as if the whole scene was supposed to be amusing. I glared at him harder and asked him if he thought it was all very funny, and he said no, and then resumed answering the test questions with a straight face. All through the interview, he did not mention the word "sorry". Bet he was not the least remorseful, and still thought he had every right in the world to walk out of an exam venue as he pleased.

End of test - some submitted 3 pages of answers (with 2 half-pages scratched out and blanks lines here and there); some submitted 2 pages, some only a single page. Some of the single-page answers had only writing on half the page.

Now you have your reasons.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Today started off rather poorly, with a heavy downpour in the early morning until noon. I went to class and there was nobody in it. I waited for 5 mins and a girl walked in. Three others came in 15 mins late, two 30 mins late, two more 45 mins late, and (are you ready for the finale?) one strolled in 60 mins late. My blood was 0.005 degrees away from the boiling point. I gave him the coldest and fiercest glare I was capable of, and asked him if he knew what time it was. And then, it was excuse, excuse, excuse, and more excuses. Fine. Whaaaaaatever. He's a gone case anyhow.<

Today will end, however, in a much more amusing manner. It is close to 5pm now and I had just received an email sent by someone (to everyone), and it goes like this:

I found a group of keys (6 pieces) in xxxxx at 2 pm (27/7/06)Want them back? Come and get it.

I couldn't help laughing, and couldn't help wondering whom this guy had learned in English from. If my memory serves me right, this wasn't the first time I received a lost-and-found email with "come and get it" in it. Do any readers of mine actually get this variety of amusement at work? Do share!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Counting My Blessings

Whenever my daughter gets into the whining, howling, crocodile-tear-crying, I'm-not-listening-to-a-word-mummy's-saying mood, I get all stressed up, wondering why my child can't be the kind that sits quietly in a corner with a book in her lap. I also get stressed when she refuses to take her milk, making up stories like she's 'full' (but offer her biscuits, she'll take two!), or her stomach is 'aching' (the moment her milk is gotten rid off, the pain's gone too). At one time, she tried to avoid going to preschool by making up 3 different stories, and telling them with tears in her eyes:

1. Her teachers always punished her (to her grandmother)
2. Her friends didn't want to friend her (to her Daddy)
3. I want you (to stay with me)! (to me)

This morning, sending my daughter to her preschool, we saw this little boy (coincidentally, a classmate of my daughter's), who was so reluctant to be in school, that he had to be pried away from his mother's car by two teachers, all the while struggling and crying "我要 Mummy!!!" repeatedly at the top of his lungs. (The screams were loud enough to be audible two houses away!) The screamings and limbs-trashing continued even after his mother drove away. And as I sat in the car, watching my calm, composed daughter walk into school, past her uncontrollable, screeching classmate, I told my husband - well, at least she's not like that!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


About a month ago, I finished reading Shirley. It took quite some time, but I guess I was making good progress for someone who reads only during train journeys. The novel ended the way it began - without grandeur; yet, it proved to be a deeply emotional read.

A couple of weeks ago, I started on another Charlotte Brontë novel, her last, Villette. Like Shirley, I had started and stalled on reading this book several times previously. This was, however, due to the extensive use of French phrases and whole sentences in the conversations in the text. (I could've ignored the parts I can't understand, but it would not do!) At first, I bought a mini English-French dictionary so that I could do the translations, but it was too tedious, and the French grammar proved to be beyond the dictionary alone. In university, I took a semester of beginner's French class and then, attempted to read Villette again. It was still too tedious. Argh!

After the many failed attempts, here I am again, and I am quite determined to finish reading Villette this time. J'espère que je réussirai. Souhaitez-moi la chance! (what?)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vivo Per Lei


I first heard this song, sung live by Andrea Bocelli and Hayley Westenra, on a video clip of a couple skating. The melody and the voices captivated me. I later got hold of the studio recording of the song, Vivo Per Lei / Je Vis Pour Elle (don't ask how) by Bocelli and a lady singer with a wondrous voice, Helene Segara. The song was sung in part Italian, part French. It is one of those songs you can listen to 20 times in a row and not get tired of - one of those that makes you want to stay in the office past going-home time, just to continue listening to it. The only other song which invoked the same feelings within me is the duet by Sarah Brightman and Josh Groban, There For Me, from a live performance.

Coincidentally, both songs were recorded and released close to a decade ago. I came across There For Me a couple years back, and had just only stumbled across Vivo Per Lei (Bocelli has 5 versions of this song in 5 different languages; 6 if counting the one performed in part English with Westenra). A decade! How deaf can one be? :D And I wonder how many such great songs there are out there, which we, in our common, ignorant lives have missed...

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Pre-school Conversation

My daughter had a slight fever over the weekend. Even though her temperature was not high this morning, as a precaution we let her bring her fever syrup to school. We arrived at her pre-school at the same time as another child, a little boy, and my daughter and the little boy sat on a bench together to remove their shoes. My husband, who was nearby, then overheard the following:

My daughter: I got medicine! (waving the plastic bag with the fever syrup bottle in it in front of the boy's face)

Little boy: I got Ultraman bag! (holding the bag up in front of my daughter's face)

My daughter: I got handkerchief!

Little boy: Yes meh?!

(OK, enough). My husband left them and we went to work.