Month: August 2007

CA2 computation


Here it is, kids- the definitive list of assignments that will make up the CA2 marks. Please do take note of the strict submission criteria. If there is anything you do not understand, you have only to ask. There will be no adjustment or substitution of marks, so make sure you get it right. I don’t mind doing some extra marking (someone check my pulse!) as long as you are sincere about  getting your work done.So if you want to re-submit something, go ahead- but do it on time.

I know the last few weeks have been really intense, my darlings, but take heart. The end of the year is drawing nearer. The pessimists among you will snort sceptically, deriving pleasure from pointing out that that only means the ‘O’ levels are drawing nearer as well. To these dismal people my answer is “pooh!” because I think optimism is the only way to go. Sure, there may not be a light at the end of every tunnel, but why snuff out whatever ray of hope does exist?

Read the list people, and do as it says.


Mrs V in the news

Yes. It’s true. That was your teacher on the front page of the newspaper today. Some of you inundated me with questions- most insulting of which was “So was the reporter your friend?” On second thoughts, not such a silly question. Here’s what really happened.

The reporter contacted MOE to find out about adjunct teachers to interview, and  they gave her the name of our school, because apparently we have quite a lot of such teachers. It was Ms Tay who asked if I would be willing to do the interview. Since it did not involve any Maths, I said yes. The reporter e-mailed me the questions, I e-mailed her my answers and the rest, as they say, is history. This explains why there is no photo (sob!).

Anyway, here’s the best part. A lady called the school asking to speak to me. It turned out that she was my student more than 10 years ago- in fact I was her form teacher. And after I resigned we sort of lost contact with each other. When she saw that I was teaching at Swiss again, she took the opportunity to get in touch with me. Now she is working on getting the whole class together for a reunion. I can’t wait to see them.

So let’s get back to the report. What did I do to get into the news? Go back to work, apparently. A friend of mine remarked that I can never do anything quietly- even my going back to work makes the front page. What can I say? Fame just follows some people around! (Don’t worry- tongue is firmly in cheek.)

Fair and Square

Someone asked me a question the other day that made me very happy. I’ll tell you what the question was first before I tell you why it made me happy. The question was: “Why do we say ‘fair and square’ and not ‘fair and circle’ or ‘fair and triangle’?”

I love it when students think about the language- it means you are having fun with it, trying to make sense of it, engaging with it. What more could an English teacher want?

And now for the answer. Apparently, ‘square’ is considered a synonym for ‘solid’ or ‘steady’, ‘fair’ or ‘complete’. Many idioms in English are based on rhyme and repetition to drive the point home. That is how we have phrases like ‘time and tide waits for no man’. ‘Time’ and ‘tide’ both meant the same thing at the time this expression was coined. In the same way, ‘fair and square’ mean the same thing, and also rhyme, which made them ideal for putting together in an expression.

If you’d like to know more about this subject, feel free to look it up. The study of the origins of words is know as Etymology. Type this in as your keyword and you’ll get a satisfying list of sites. Have fun, and do check back in to share your links with us if you find any good ones.

Speak Good English Movement


This comes around every year, and tireless efforts are made to get Singaporeans to speak in a manner that can make them understood and respected in every sphere. I confess now to a need to brag again. My son, Arjun, took part in one of the SGEM activties, conducted in association with the British Council. This was a competition called “Walk and Talk”, and involved students at all levels making an animated video of a particular place in Singapore that had special significance for them. They had to write the script and draw the pictures on their own, though they did get a little guidance with the animation. Here is a link to my son’s video- Little Oasis of Green. It won his team second prize, and believe me, your teacher is one proud momma!


The more we learn the less we really know


Oh dear I must apologise to 3E4- I just counted how many speech topics I had up here and realised that I had left one out. Sorry, 3E4! It was not intentional, I assure you. Anyway we have Andrew who has been elected as frontman, and I wish him all the best.

How are we going to interpret the idea of learning? And what about knowledge? One way of looking at it could be to see learning as the conscious acquisition of information in an institutional setting (school!), and to see knowledge as common wisdom that we pick up through real life experiences. Do you think that spending too much time on the former actually leaves us too little time to engage in the latter?

On the other hand you could choose to disagree with the statement by arguing that learning is the acquisition of knowledge, in which case the statement would not be true at all.

Nurmatha posted a comment, but because this entry was not up yet, she had to comment under the “Tips for making a good speech” section. What about the rest of you? If you are not sure how to start, I invite you to take a look at the topics of the other classes. There are some very insightful comments up already.

The force of evil is now more powerful than ever before


You should have seen the fun in 3E5 today. We had one guy who was so nervous that it would be he who would have to represent his class. See the problem is that this guy has already had some experience facing a large and critical audience, and definitely does not want to repeat the experience- even though he was very good at it, along with the rest of his team. As it turned out it was another guy who won, by one vote. Jonathan is 3E5’s Speaker, and I know he will do a great job, especially with his classmates’ help.

Is it true that evil has never been stronger than it is now? There are many examples of evil from the past. But what is it about the times we are living in now that makes us feel that we are surrounded by great evil? Or do you feel that we are not in fact surrounded by evil at all? What actually is evil? If we say that evil is not at an all time high, then is the reverse also true- that good is at its strongest now? Or is it in fact the case that the stronger evil becomes, the stronger good becomes to match it force for force?

Most important of are the examples to illustrate your opinions. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet. Who’s going to pick it up and take the challenge?

New Wallpaper


Has anyone noticed my new wallpaper? It was a maths project my son Arjun had to do- something about tessellations. I understood the concept only after he explained it to me. I think the colours are gorgeous and the idea is so clever. Hey! Proud mothers are allowed to brag, and he has given me permission to put this up here only because he knows none of his friends will ever see it!