August 19, 2013

It is unexplained

It is that time of the year again ... the month where most Chinese believe that the hell gates are opened and beings of the netherworld are out roaming the streets ... the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival.

As usual, ghost stories are aplenty during this time of the year ... all sort of ghost stories, some real scary, some seems unreal, some very funny and some are out of this world, so to speak.

While waiting for my wife at hypermarket check-out counter, I heard a mother telling her very young daughter that ghosts and ghouls are now out wandering the streets at night catching little children ... look, I am sure the mother was just trying to scare her daughter so that she won’t go out playing alone. Really, I believe the mother is more worried about the crimes committed by human beings rather than the doing of ghosts.

I am sure the mother’s intention is good but what I don’t agree is using ghost stories to scare children. I don’t think children should be planted with the idea that there are ghosts in this world. These young minds should grow to be free to explore what is out there. Should they encounter anything strange, it is up to them to call it ... a ghost or something unexplained.

When I was young, I was told many ghost stories (not by my parents) ... though scared but I was also curious ... so, when someone in my village dies, my friends and I will be the first ones at the wake gathering around the Taoist priest when he conducts the rites ... why? We were told that when the Taoist priest lifts up his hands during the rites, we can see ghosts inside the sleeves of his robe. While some of my friends swore that they saw something ... I never saw anything and I am not convinced there are ghosts in this world.

Those who know me know that I don’t believe in ghosts ... although to me there are no ghosts or ghouls, no demons or devils and no spooks or spirits, that doesn’t mean I don’t think there are strange and unnatural occurrences.

I believe strange things do happen. But that does not prove that ghost exists ... to me, they are just things that are unexplained and I can accept things that are unexplained. Like UFOs ... the Unidentified Flying Objects ... they are UNIDENTIFIED ... so, UFOs are NOT proof that aliens exist. The same notion applies ... say, if I see a cup on a table moved by itself and then fell to the ground ... I don’t believe there is a ghost trying frighten me ... it is just some forces at work. What kind of forces? I don’t know ... like I said, it is unexplained.

In my fifty plus years of life, I have seen my share of strange things but I believe that only science can offer the best explanation to the things happening around us. And those things that are unexplained ... for now, they will remain unexplained but in time science will be able offer a proper explanation of what exactly they are.

August 01, 2013

Don’t let exam results decide your fate

My friend and I were discussing about our kids’ coming UPSR examination ... he has a son who is the same age as my daughter, so both our kids will be taking the primary assessment exam in a couple of months. My friend asked me ... “Eh, how many ‘A’s do you think your daughter will get ... can get straight ‘A’s?

WHAT? Straight ‘A’s? Look, knowing my daughter’s academic abilities, it is almost like striking a lottery ... next to impossible. Really, I am not looking forward to ‘A’s in my daughter’s UPSR result.

But then, how important are the ‘A’s?

Every time when exam results are released, we only hear praises for the straight ‘A’ students or those who obtained many ‘A’s in their results. Most people are fast to applaud and offer a pat in the back only to those who made it good in their exams. What about the vast majority who did not get any ‘A’s and those who didn’t even make it through? Are they not worth a few words of encouragement?

Hey, we are all different ... so, we learn differently, we have different inclinations and we learn at different rate.

Among us, there are kinesthetic learners, visual learners and auditory learners ... then we have people who are math inclined or language inclined and those who are inclined towards art. And then some learn very fast, some slower while others may need longer time to learn.

So, should the thousands of different individuals who all have different learning skills and abilities be tested and measured by the one same mean (exam)?

What I am saying is ... education is not just about getting the ‘A’s. I don’t know about others but for me, if you don’t get the ‘A’s in school, it doesn’t mean that you are any less “educated”. I don’t think exam results should tell you what you are worth.

Don’t let exam results decide your fate ... you may not have the ‘A’s to be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer but you can be the likes of Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg ... an entrepreneur, a passionate dream chaser and a world changer.