Wednesday, April 11, 2018

随心笔:渴望

小时候,我渴望自由。
少年时,我渴望爱,虽然当时我不太懂。
毕业前后,我渴望钱。
工作后,我渴望意义,
明天寻找意义,上班的意义,活着的意义。
现在,我渴望平静。
我已经不是很渴望钱了,
请不要一直跟我说哪里有优惠,应该怎么样。
我知道钱很重要,但我不想被他控制。
花多一点无妨,我过我的人生,
希望钱做我的知音,帮我一把,
而不是改变我的生活规律,
去让钱更多。

我很富裕,谢谢。
在你眼中,也许我是穷光蛋,
我无所谓,你过你想要的生活
我不担心钱不够用,我很惜福。
我只想教育好孩子,我的,别人的。

别来烦我。

Friday, April 6, 2018

A delusional teaching journey

Years ago, I wrote about a delusional investment journey. It is one article that I faces up to my inner demons regarding investment. Nothing much has changed or perhaps a lot has changed after that, I am very much at peace now as compared to years ago in terms of investment. In terms of portfolio size, investment strategies, etc, I would think the changes or improvements are incremental or insignificant, but it just felt different, emotional no more big roller coasters. Yes, I banging my head on the wall for selling my winners too early. But I couldn't explain it clearly, it still very different from the earlier years of investing. I thought I will write about my inner demons in teaching too.

Of Learning, marks and achievements

Truth to be told, I want all of it. But while they are not mutually exclusive, the area of overlap is overstated

In fact, I think my concern or apprehension about my KPI and hence my pupils' mark have a direct bad impact on MY care and patience for kids. Mindset become too fixated on the components and less on the encouragements and causes of learning deficiency.

Also, given my position as a middle manager,. how do I lead with convinction if there is no track records.

Hence, although the big exam is half a year away, and I think I am finally connecting even with my last reticent pupil in putting in efforts and being focus in work, I am still not at peace.

At one end of the spectrum, I am very happy with what I have achieved. A improvement in attitude in learning for almost the whole class as compared to a year ago, the exemplary cases are really communicating with me in Chinese, which I thought is really important in learning a language. For the first time, I tried to get pupils to record their reading and oral topics and WhatsApp me instead of using any online platforms. The reason is simple, I can listen to their work using my phone anywhere anytime and I can give feedbacks to them in a timely manner. But 1 unexpected benefit also happened. I manage to convince the pupils to communicate with me by typing in Chinese. I also finally find the time to find out more about the challenges they are facing when doing their work and encouraging them to continue.

This to me, is already learning.

But since I came back from my 4 months course, I think my self-awareness and accuracy of assessment of pupils proficiency in exam has increased too. All of them except perhaps 1or 2 will still fail their PSLE if they take it tomorrow and 6 months is hardly enough given the low entry level.

I must say it bothers me a lot. Just yesterday, I reminded myself that even if they fail, because Psle still work in a aggregate score style, every marks count and they might still be better off for whatever improvement and learning they get.

But, the next thought that flood my mind immediately is my KPI and how do I face my department teachers.

My colleague encouraged me, said that I have the courage to take the weakest of all, and should cut myself some slack. But nope, I still fear my KPI.

Doing the right thing about learning or tangible marks. I have 3 pupils who should rightly be streamed to take the subject at foundation level.

I didn't recommend them at all. Each for different reasons, one of them I think he has quite a good foundation in the language, at least in the spoken part of it,he just need to focus and should be able to cope. I am right,he is coping well and is not the weakest in class, but I dun want to go into his writing which would most probably be the weakest link if he fail.

The other 2 are really weak. But one really tries very hard to do all my work and I hope he dun give them all up. He is applying my memory techniques very well and remember a lot of the recently taught words and even oral samples and templates, but is struggling with the assessment at P6 level.

The other is unmotivated and is also weak,but I notice he learns fast, is witty and grasp concepts quickly when he is focused. I had a heart to heart talk with him recently and I finally see a change of behaviour but I am.not sure if that will last.

The rest of my pupils are not clear-cut cases to be learning the subject at foundation level but almost all of them have their struggles .. some.mentally and emotionally have barrier to speak up, some are scared off or scarred by writing ...

I thought I perhaps only had 1-2 pupils who if they continue their good work, has a good chance to.clear the exams. Well, by KPI I am.suppose to have only 1-2 failures ...

Through the learning lens, I perhaps should not be too hard on myself. The weakest of them all are now trying their personal best (not exactly hardworking) to do their work. They are reading better and understand how to read and understand  a notice (vocabulary limited in this genre).

But is this learning enough to clear the exam or translate into tangible marks, that I am not sure.

I am also not too sure if there are better pedagogy or resources that I could have mastered that quicken their learning curves.

I ask myself had I let those 3 to just take the subject at foundation level, (I dun have to recommend, I just need not to oppose, perhaps I could have been able to focus better on the others?)

I could have also recommend those botherline cases into that stream and they can be spared the misery of writing ...

So, now u see, there are plenty of inner demons voices questioning if I had make a right choice.

I told my pupils that we should not take the easier way out, even if u fail, u would still have learn the language at a higher level, and also learn the value of resilience and overcoming handicap.

I wonder if I have been too idealistic? Since importing talents to win competition is permissible, exporting weakness to the right program is ethical ? I have a pupil taking the subject at foundation level due to other valid reasons although she is one of my beer pupils last year. It is a breeze for her now. She still come join me in the morning sessions, but she will just do her own work. Sometimes I ask her if she would like to join in with the rest in the reading exercises etc, she would refuse. How do I define "better off"

Feeling tired ... Especially when there are so many things taking time.away from me with my pupils.

I also wonder if I have been just finding excuses to justify my incompetent to produce results. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Random thoughts: Making friends in the workplace

I have my hits and misses, and had a lot of grumbles from my friends. But I thought some of the below mindsets work well for me.

1) It's ok to be taken advantage of

As long as it doesn't kill or hurt too much. Doing something to convenient others is not a sign of weakness. Also, do not expect anything in return, if favour is returned, good and it is a bonus, if not, just tell yourself u are nice or it's part of good karma LOL

2) See the goodness in people

We all like to bitch about people, it can be quite fun if not done maliciously, but once the energy gets negative, try to be mindful. Also, it is easier when we see the good side of people when we get into their wrong side from time to time. Hey, we are no saints, we are a basta... From time to time too. Live and let live.

3) when a confrontation is inevitable, never back down

If something is really wrong and crosses all your boundaries, and after applying 1 and 2 still does not work, it means u need to assert your stand clearly without any fear. Even at the stage, there is no need to be nasty, but there can be no sugar coating and A spade must be said as a spade. In the end, u might not get what u want, but it's fine, the stand must be made clear. If things go your way, be humble and grateful. If things dun go your way, be graceful but made it clear u accepted collective decision but it is not your stand.

Conclusion:

Goodwill is more important than being right. Not everything that is not right is wrong. But wrong things are wrong, we can do the wrong things because there is no choice but we can lie to ourselves and to others that is permissible and could be right.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Random thoughts: How businesses react to disruption or competition

Have been sitting on the fence and watching paint dry, while investors make a killing. Yes, even after yesterday drop of 70 points, unless u invested on Thurs, all the banks and properties counters are still way above where they were 3-6 months ago. U would still have made a killing.

I am thinking about how my recent investment thesis work out, the qualitative part of it, and I decided to do a summary here. Some companies I invested, some I didn't.

The ways companies can react in the face of disruption or competition:

1) Wait out the cyclical cycle

Companies like those in the oil and gas, like Sembmarine, and SIA engineering, there is not much there could do.

In terms of cycle, aircrafts orders are still high and increasing, but better aircraft need shorter maintaince and longer period between maintaince. My own personal tracking is in another 2-3 years time, there should be an uptick in major maintaince of all the new aircrafts in recent years. So companies simply just continue to keep.yhe network and forge new alliances in the hope of capturing the upturn.

2) Improve capabilities to find new niche markets.

This is mainly only possible for manufacturing and technology companies. Names that come to mind are Venture, and ST engineering.

3) Buy and consolidate competition

confort-delgro come to mind, after buying Lion City Rental, they overnight become a major player in PHV market, and with Uber as partner, finally relent and has their taxi fleet in Uber flash. But my scuttlebutt research show the taxi drivers do not like Uber-flash because of the low rate and their high rental.

Uber and Grab might be planning some consolidation too, but the awakard position is that Grab might be the buyer in SEA market.

4) Venture into totally new markets

SPH venture into.properties and Healthcare. Unless with the wildest imagination, it is hard to find energy with their media business.

5) Find New markets that has snergy, and existing capabilities can feed on

Singpost logistic business is a good example. However, for 4 and 5, the questions is how low or high is the barrier for new competitiors.

6) Price war to keep market share

Well it has not started, but I am sure it will happen when it comes. The Telcos. The recent new SIM plans if u dissect it carefully is a big yawn. If the new telco TPG comes in with a similar plan, it's going to be another big yawn, which is highly unlikely.

Some companies are doing 1 or more of the above and might see themselves more caught in 1 situation than the other. But it is intriguing to think through all the above before we read the AR to prevent confirmation bias.

Without saying which company, lines like "it will take time for mass adoption" is a big yawn that the new capabilities is not catching on.

In my universe of radar, I saw companies that could turnaround, and this time round, I will remind myself not to let it go with a miserable 40%, unless my thesis is proven right or wrong.

But I am still waiting for the right price for margin of safety. There is also company that with each passing day, the risk simply get lesser as they are in situation 1 too. However, the market might revalue them earlier. The only way the stars can be aligned is u k own they can wait out a cycle (cash rich), is still developing new capabilities for new markets with some results and valuation comes down further because there is negative sentiments in the market.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Random thoughts: Survivor mode 24/7

This is a continuity of my previous post.

I was wondering what SMOL and LP said in the comment section and I start to understand why I felt like that during the holidays.

Purpose. Able to answer "Why am I doing this?" When the going gets tough.

The last 2 days are crazy. I skipped lunch, worked non stop except for dinner until midnight. I am deadbeat today. Frustration, yes it's still there. There is even some tightness in the chest.

But when I see my pupils, suddenly the Why answered itself. I am doing this so that they can pass PSLE, so that those that suffered from inferior complex can build confidence and say "I can", so the few hungry enough for success, I give them a real shot at success and going to secondary school.

For the lazy, I spurred them to work. So that they can help themselves. I am so surprised when I make good my threat that I will look for them during lunch break to finish up their work, they are quite willing to do it. I really do not wish to take their break away from them unless really necessary.  But these supposedly "lazy" pupils just took their pens and follow, very unlike pupils from better class.

The why makes it less painful.

The biggest irony is I am so deadbeat that I can't prepare to teach my son properly or even teach at all

Friday, March 16, 2018

Random thoughts: Emotions and state of mind

This last 2 weeks has been a real roller coaster ride for me, both emotional and physically. Which is really baffling because my dad condition is getting stable and he is somewhat stronger. It is the holiday and I supposedly should have a slower pace at work. I shall not bored u with the details of what happened, but after anxiety attacks again (gone for a long while) and feeling unhappy, I stand to understand the following:

1) letting the guard down
Throughout the term, I am working on "fighter/survivor" mode. There are times where I can't really keep my eyes open but I carried on for my pupils, and feel satisfied with myself and the work done.

Because it is the holidays, I told myself having the night doing nothing will be great rest, but I somewhat do not feel discharged but rather felt very bad tempered with the amount of work still waiting for me to be done. The fact that I couldn't spend some time with my family on weekdays afternoon as my wife brought them out to the science center also affected me and made me sour about what I am doing.

Instead of feeling relaxed, I felt fustratation.

2) Relative Pain
Throughout the term, I have no problem working hard, as I see all those I respect also slogging for their charges. However, during the holiday, when I see Facebook photos of my colleagues overseas recharging I felt very short-changed. It seems that my cultivation level is still very low.

Towards the end of holiday that feeling of frustration get stronger and stronger.

So, what can be done.

I am not too sure about operating at "survivor " mode 24/7. I believe it will eat into our souls. Let's be honest, when u are in survivor mode, u are highly focused and effective, but you block out a lot of things that might not threatened short term survivability, I personally do not think it's a good thing.

But I do see 2 things that do help me with anxiety attacks.

1) Kindness? When I think about what I can do for my pupils, my frustration is reduced by half. It is stressful but the energy is different. Frustration and disatifaction is highly negative.

2) Acceptance. The fact that a relative easier week instead of recharging me, cause me grief, is due to me comparing with others. I would not accept that I am different from others yet can be happy.

Yesterday, I was deadbeat after a short badminton session with my son (he is still a novice btw, so it's not a tough session)

But when I am closing my eyes while sitting on the sofa at night, he suddenly came to my side and turn on the u-tube to listen to the pop that I liked. I simply enjoy the magical 30 minutes or so, just listening to music and talking about which songs is better with my son. Who need to go overseas, as long as we accept our own circumstances and not let grudge and greed prevent us from being happy.

May u be happy. I understood how it felt to want to escape, the normal poison of FIRE to quit my job was quite intense. But FIRE is not solution in the case

I was thinking to myself, perhaps "survivor mode" might not be that bad afterall

Friday, March 2, 2018

Random thoughts: A lesson for myself as much as for my pupils

Was feeling rather down after I knew my pupils' results. I have braced myself not to focus on results and instead of results. Easier said than done.

I do feel that the kids are learning, but ironically they still doing badly at the assessment.

I am quite surprised how affected I was, I was like drained of energy, just felt like sleeping my way through.

I am not sure how to break the news to them, I knew some of them have tried really hard. When we stay back late, and was doing a timed practice, I remember them pulling the chair away and kneeling down and then standing up to write so as not to fall asleep. I knew I have also tried hard, staying up late in the weekend to rush out customized worksheets for them.

I was very disappointed, and I am sure some of them feel the same. Of course, there are others who dun give a hoot too, and I wondered if I am too silly.

Nonetheless, I remember a lesson I did for my FTGP lesson. So I ask my kids to transfer water from a pail to another using spoon. It was a slow and painful process. Some kids enjoy it. Some started to get restless after a while and tried to take shortcuts etc. Some have their shoes wet and was a bit annoyed.

After the activity, I told them learning for exam can be like filling a bucket with water using a spoon. U tried very hard, but it seem futile. They couldn't even fill half of the bucket, and I told them sadly, none of them reach the halfway mark of passing.

We shall continue to do it, because after a while, when we have enough water over the other side, we will have enough strength to lift the big container of water and simply pour it over. It is called inflection point.

I told them I share their pain, because I was very disappointed with the results too. When I was saying this, I felt tears swelling but I quickly composed myself. I quick look around and I saw a few with red eyes and others with a sombre look. With this playful class, this is the rare few things I felt this sombre atmosphere and the connection.

I use this also as a opportunity and pointed out that as with most  human, when we dun see results, we get frustrated and sometime resort to short cuts.

We also need a bigger cup instead of a spoon. And hence u explained despite the efforts put in, we might need to do more. I think this is one of the rare time I don't get a protest asking pupils to do more work.

After the session, the lesson going through the papers is so much easy as most pupils focused on the lesson. And I felt much better finally able to get my feelings off my chest.

A lesson that is for myself as much as for my pupils