Sec 5 class advised: Go to ITE instead

There’s a reason why there are so few success stories of bad kids turn good. Or lousy students top the school…

Principal tells students that they are unlikely to do well at O levels

By Sandra Davie, Education Correspondent

CALL it a disheartening start to the new school year.

A group of 27 girls in a Secondary 5 class in a mission school – which shall remain unnamed – were advised by their principal on the first day of school last week to seek transfers to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), since they were unlikely to do well in the O levels this year.

To back her point, she even flashed the girls’ detailed N-level grades on the board in class using an overhead projector; she also stressed that she wanted 100 per cent passes in her school.

The result: teens with punctured self-confidence and some fuming parents.

The girls, who had done well enough in last year’s N-level examinations to get to Sec 5, were looking to repeat their good performance at the O levels this year and move on to the polytechnics.

Those with strong N-level results had a new option this year: They could have skipped Sec 5 and headed for higher-level technical courses at ITE, but the deadline for applications closed on Jan 2.

Five girls from the class confirmed the incident. They have decided to stay on in the school, but if they choose to take their principal’s advice, they can still apply for ITE courses starting in April.

The father of one of the five, describing the incident as ‘totally defeating’ for parents like him, said he and his wife had been motivating their daughter to aim to do well in the O levels this year.

‘My daughter’s self-esteem had gone up multiple levels just seeing her results and realising her hopes to attempt the O levels.

How are we to motivate our children to do better with second chances when there are principals who are so uncaring and unethical?’

More… His daughter said she is not considering a transfer to the ITE because she wants to go on to a polytechnic after Sec 5.

She added: ‘It is very sad when your principal doesn’t have faith in you and will not give you a chance.’

But having decided to stay on, she said she feels added pressure to do well: ‘I feel quite nervous, and so do quite a few of my classmates.’

Another parent said that after the principal’s talk, he had to do ‘damage control’ to convince his daughter that she stood a good chance of getting into a sports management course in a polytechnic.

A third parent, a mother, is considering writing to the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Saying this was a result of school heads being too concerned with MOE’s annual ranking of schools, she added: ‘This is a mission school at that. Where’s the compassion?’

She said she thought moves to weed out weaker students by urging them to drop difficult subjects were a thing of the past.

When annual ranking of secondary schools was introduced in 1992, some schools were reported to have pressed students to drop ‘tougher’ subjects such as Literature, in apparent attempts to protect or improve their rankings.

MOE has tweaked the system, taking fewer subjects into account.

About 60 per cent of Normal stream students who sit for the O levels do well enough to win places in the polytechnics.

Of the five girls who spoke to The Straits Times, only one defended her principal, saying she ‘meant well’.

Said the teen: ‘My class is a weak class. Some of the girls may be better off in the ITE.’

Wow. I thought teachers/principals are supposed to encourage these kids? Didn’t she study educational psychology when she was in NIE? At least I know that’s a core module for all my teacher friends.

Oh. I’m so sorry. I forgot that being so high up, she’d probably forgotten how to be a good teacher. She just well.. manages.

Being in the N level stream may not be such a disgraceful thing in this time and day, but if the students were to compare themselves to some of the students from the express stream in the same school they might still feel that inferiority complex. Schools are supposed to help them kill that inferiority complex and channel it into something motivating and encouraging. Not talk down to them. And make them feel worse.

No wonder kids have no respect for teachers nowadays.. Not when your principal looks down on you.

And she tries to explain herself:

THE school principal told The Straits Times yesterday she was merely trying to give her girls a ‘wake-up call’ when she spoke to them on the first day of school.

She confirmed that she had used an overhead projector to display the girls’ results, but that it was to impress on them that they would have to work hard to qualify for a place in the polytechnics.

She said: ‘It’s a fact. If a student scored a Grade 4 or 5 for a subject in the N levels, she is unlikely to pass the subject in the O levels.’

N-level subjects are graded from 1 to 5, with 1 being the best grade.

The principal added: ‘Some…who don’t qualify for poly will end up in the ITE anyway, so they might as well go direct to the ITE.’

She confirmed that she told the girls she wanted 100 per cent passes in her school, but that what she meant was that she wanted all her girls to do well in the O levels – not that she did not want poor performers to tar the school’s record or lower its ranking.

Noting that well over 80 per cent of her Normal stream students who sat for the O levels last year did well enough to qualify for the polytechnics, she added: ‘But it takes a lot of hard work and the girls needed to know that.’

When given the principal’s side of the story, two of the parents interviewed said that if all she wanted was to give the girls a wake-up call, she could have done it differently.

One parent said: ‘I would have preferred it if she had called the parents in and given them the hard facts, instead of destroying the confidence of the girls.’

Maybe all teachers and principals need a crash course in psychology. Mean exactly what you say.

I firmly believe that if the other party misunderstands you, it’s your fault for not explaining it properly in the first place.

Review Theatre


“Beauty World Cha Cha Cha!” “High Class, Low Class, NO CLASS!”

Who can forget these classic lines? Beauty World the musical has been with us 5 years after I was born. So 20 years after its creation, I was given complimentary tickets to watch.

Firstly, I don’t like the Esplanade Theatre. The stall seats are just as good as being on perfectly flat ground. It’s so steep that I was unable to see any action that was within 0.5m from the stage floor.. *grumbles*

I went in without any expectations of a good time actually.It was quite obvious to me before I stepped into the venue that it will not be good. It might pass, but it will not be one that stays with us for a long time. The cast list is pretty much good enough to tell all.

That said, I was fairly impressed by the set design. I thought it was intelligent and thought was actually put into the works and how the interchanging of the set flows with the rest of the play. There was a certain sense of period in the Beauty World cabaret style set but it could have been slightly better. The whole feel was more of a Moulin Rouge idea than 80s chinese cabaret. Slightly off but still good.

Lights was in general another good point in the play. Lulu’s follow-spotter was not very on-the-ball at times. There were a couple of spots that cleanly cuts a dark arc across the forehead. And that happened in scenes where she was supposed to be showing lots of emotion in her expression… A big waste that was actually. But I’m not really a lights person so I’m not really able to comment much on it..

Sound though, is a different thing. OH MY GAWD! I hated it, the sound cues, not the songs.. The band was placed at the back and on top of ALL the action. So much so that the conductor is totally unable to see the action on stage real life. He either had to use audio cues, or use his monitor which is super tiny. I know. I’ve seen it. I can’t see shit on that small little thing. So.. 90% of the sound cues were off. Especially the visual ones. Timing was horrible. Sometimes the music climax came after the actor had already paused in his act.. Like 3 seconds. Totally off. Bad.

Personally, and I think this applies to most industry people who watched the show, that the costumes were bad. It was totally off. I mean, this is a 80s Singapore Chinese cabaret, not Moulin Rouge. Yet 80% of the cabaret girls’ costumes were so Moulin Rouge, complete with sequins, glitter, shine, feathers, tassles all the works. *beep* Wrong era here. And my god the suits look like a really fashionable & modern cut! The only correct period costume was probably recycled from the old run. Which is Ah Hock, Ivy, Frankie & Rosemary’s. *shakes head*

My heart goes out to Daren Tan, really. He’s not a stage actor. He doesn’t even know how to act. Yet because of his fame as the winner of Project Superstar, he has to be thrown into this unfamiliar and really very unkind community. He simply can’t act. Not now. Not without training and experience. His singing is wrong. The wrong type of vocals. Pop singing and musical singing is really way off. Not everyone’s Pamela Oei or Gani. He was easily the worst of the lot, seriously. Not entirely his own fault but still… Reality sucks.

Elena, playing Ivy, really threw me off. She was much better than I had expected. Then again, she has the right musical theatre training as a foundation. She has the vocals and the potential. What she really lacks is the experience, which shows in her acting. There is a certain lack of sense of how you capture and enhance movements in accordance with the background music. For example, when she was sneaking around in Mummy’s room in her all-black catwoman suit, it would have been more interesting to see if she had followed the beat of the music. I’d like to use popping as a way to connect such movement acting. There’s always a certain place where you stop, usually at the hard beat itself. And the right amount of jerky actions combined with smooth moves accentuates what you are doing and makes your movements clearer. Plus you don’t have to do as many consecutive actions to get the same effect. And it looks better on stage. She really needs to work on her physical aspect.

Frankie, played by Dwayne Tan, was a lovely success. Totally without the image of Hossan Leong from the 1998 run and yet still endearing in his own way. “My a-ha-ha Ivy….” Didn’t know how it was apparently so hilarious that everyone had to laugh like mad dogs every time he sang that song. *grouchy*

The rest… Denise could have done better but the chemistry between her & the rest wasn’t there.. The showdown between Lulu & Rosemary was such a let down! Where is the vocal power????? Rosemary was tooooooo much Jacintha, she might as well have done it by herself. Irene Ang was hilarious as Ah Choo, spot on punch lines.. Swee Lin was charismatic as Mummy as well.. Ensemble was well, forgettable.

I wouldn’t pay to watch the show, even if it was S$10. But that’s just me. Someone else might have a different opinion.

Have you watched the play?


Fisheye Roll 2

My second roll of Fisheye is developed and I’m mildly pleased with it. There are some good shots and the percentage of shots that actually came out was higher than Roll 1. It’s still lacking uniformity but I guess it’s good enough for a second roll!

Used Sensia 400 Slide Film, Cross-processed.


A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila

Okay.. So I slept at 3am yesterday, or rather, today. All because of one woman, one show. MTV’s “A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila”.

Firstly, who is Tila Tequila??? Tila’s what they call internet celebrity. She got famous on MySpace and then spurned off a career of apparently modeling and singing. None of which probably really took off. She’s like the more slutty & bitchy & famous version of Xia Xue.She’s also got better looking ass than her but that’s beside the point.

What is the show about? In public it’s Tila’s quest for true love… *rolleyes* And because she is, get this, BISEXUAL, she gets 16 straight men & 16 lesbians to come on the show to fight for her heart. Because she doesn’t know what gender she wants to end up with. Riiiiigggghhhhttttt….

The show is hilariously funny & I’d say it has all the elements of a great reality TV series. There is lots of hot men & women, drama, tears, scream and hair tearing, pushing, fighting, kissing, making out, booze.. ALL THE WORKS. All in one 10 episode show. And obviously lots of skin. And catfight. Oooooo I love catfights. We women really know how to fight.

But anyway, the show ended with Bobby (CUTE AS HELL) winning. Here come the big BUT. Apparently, he broke up with her a few days before New Year’s Eve and she had to announce it during her NYE masquerade party. AND at the same time, announcing that she’s coming back for “A Shot At Love” Season 2. Puuuuurrrrfect timing.

So now everyone’s talking about it.. Just Google “Tila Tequila Bobby Broke Up” and you get a whole string of results. Some of the comments are hellava funny. Seriously guys.. Did anyone EVER think that they will actually work out? Come on….. Gimmie a break. It’s Reality TV for goodness sake. Has ANY of the Bachelor & Bachelorettes’ relationship with the people they pick work out? I mean sure this was like the shortest ‘relationship’ which probably really wasn’t even one but hey! Guess what? They all broke up! What a shocker!

I feel sorry for Bobby & Dani though, cos I really like both of them.. (Bobby is SOOOOOO CUTE!) But hell, this IS TV. They’ll just have to live & learn. =)

Can’t wait to watch “That’s Amore” though.. LITTLE ITALY!!! Mr Italiano! He’s so funny.. & so weird.

You know.. I might just catch “A Shot At Love” season 2. Just for the kicks. ;p

Bobby Banhart needs his own show. He’s cute as hell. Really. So. Damn. Bloody. Cute.

BTW, this is my favorite scene from the show. They are so cute.

Music Review 中文

蘇打綠 『無與倫比的美麗』 聽后感




打綠來新加坡宣傳+演唱會的時候我曾經和友人說過,希望新專輯會有更多像“You are, You will” 的音樂。有多點華麗的弦樂,多點平常聽樂團聽不到的古典音樂,多點抒情的中提琴聲。《無與倫比的美麗》發行后,我后悔了。我后悔我忘了英文有一句話“Less is More”,后悔我夸口有更多弦樂一定更好,后悔我希望打綠離開純粹木吉他的音樂。


可是蘇打綠不是只是阿龔和青蜂的。蘇打綠是屬于6個人的。為什么會變成這樣?每一個樂手都有自己的特色,而一個出色的樂團,就是要把這些人的特色集中在一起,并一同發揮化學作用,成就一首首動聽的歌曲。在《無與倫比的美麗》中,我卻沒有感受到。可能因為阿龔真的太強了,他的音樂風格充撤了整張專輯,根本沒有給人家呼吸的機會。專輯很有Gavin Mikhail的Piano Rock的風格,如果這個是蘇打綠要走的路,那我很遺憾這條路竟然在第三張專輯才有所眉目。我要聽到的蘇打綠是一個搖滾樂團,不是流行古典樂團體。如果要后者的話,我有很多其他的選擇,例如Vanessae Mae,Maksim, Bond。可是蘇打綠的特點是在于他們能夠很巧妙地結合二者,併造另外一種fusion的音樂風格。怎么前兩張好好的,第三張卻變成弦樂重奏?